Content analysis is a qualitative-quantitative research method that allows you to “extract” useful information from a set of texts (called corpus). The origins of this research method date back to the first studies of “quantitative semantics” on texts of a political and propaganda nature. Today the analysis of the content is applied to any type of written document (and not only): transcripts of interviews and other audio-video materials, newspaper articles, novels, “posts” of an online forum, etc.
Qualitative-Quantitative Research Method
We said that we can consider content analysis a qualitative-quantitative research technique, but in what sense? The object of our interest is certainly qualitative: the content of a communication. This does not mean that more quantitative tools can be used to trace, reconstruct or deepen the knowledge and understanding of this “content”, such as, for example, the count of “occurrences”, or the number of words of various types (eg. adjectives, verbs, etc.) present in a text. It is clear that numerical information of this type makes no sense if it is not “systematized” by the researcher in the context of his own previous knowledge and intuitions.
Content analysis has established itself as one of the best known and most used research methods with the advent and diffusion of the electronic computer. Before this happened, the research and counting of the occurrences in the texts was done manually, with a great waste of energy and time on the part of the researcher. In some cases, however, the manual scanning of the text remains the methodologically best choice (for example when a corpus is too small for a strictly numerical analysis, or when one is looking for complex conceptual categories). For all other cases there are software specifically designed for content analysis, through the use of which you can analyze your material.
How Analysis Work:
- Manual scanning of the text with the aim of identifying occurrences or conceptual categories established ex-ant e;
- Manual scanning of transcripts of qualitative interviews in order to encode the variables in the matrix and / or to structure a questionnaire based on the identified variables (manual ex-post structuring );
- Automatic corpus scan and (simple) coding for graphic forms;
- Semi-automatic scanning of texts: normalization of text for text forms, lexias, upper / lower case, etc. Extrapolation of contingency tables. For statistical processing of the data thus obtained, consult the page of the data processing service.