Qualitative Content Analysis and its Methodology

When using qualitative content analysis, the analyst classifies the information into certain categories. These categories are treated similarly to numerical data and can be statistically manipulated to provide scientific information. The researcher can then draw certain conclusions about the information in the text. There are several approaches to doing this including by identifying themes, topics or issues. Different intensities, issues, situations, groups or frequencies may also be observed. These can be defined as directed, conventional or summative.

Using Comparison Techniques: Directive Analysis

Qualitative content analysis can be used through various comparison techniques. This is also known as directive content analysis. For example, in a political situation, a researcher might look over different documents or television programs about a particular legislation that is being voted upon and compare them to determine if an agency’s goals and objectives conform to the current legislation they are promoting. This could help the public understand the decisions of that agency as well.

Using Open-Ended Questions: Conventional Analysis

Another form of qualitative content analysis is in using open ended questions. Researchers may interview several respondents and ask them multiple questions to determine what they thought about a particular subject. This is often done through conventional content analysis and is used frequently in case studies. For example, a researcher might ask stockholders what they think about an organization’s activities and plans. This information is then tabulated in order to form a comprehensive report. They might also analyze employee responses to these same activities and plans and compare the results.

Coding to View the Meaning behind the Words: Summative Analysis

The summative approach to qualitative data analysis is done when researches use a quantifiable methodology to look for certain words or context within the text in order to understand it. It does not provide the researcher with the meaning of the text. Instead it uses the word or context to explore usage. If the researcher stopped at this point the information would be quantitative instead of qualitative. However, at this point the data is then interpreted in order to understand its meaning and the underlying communication of the text making it qualitative.

The Steps for Developing Content Analysis

There are seven basic steps researchers use when developing quantitative content analysis research. This begins with deciding to use this methodology to define a certain criteria. Once this is done, researchers must select the variables and what material will be used. They must then define the recording units and develop a plan of action. Any coding also needs to be predetermined. Once this is done and the data is collected, the information can be analyzed and a conclusion can be drawn.

This type of analysis is useful for a variety of reasons and all data undergoes a similar analytical process to achieve the meaning. The success of the research depends on how the content was analyzed and the coding process behind the data. The type of qualitative data that is used though is dependent upon the information that is trying to be understood.