Content Analysis is a research method used to determine a specific pattern of words and concepts given within the text or set of documents.
The practice of content analysis has been in practice since the early 1940s. Then, it was limited to examining texts of different studies manually or through slow mainframe computers to check the frequency of specific terms/words. Later, in the 1950s, content analysis incorporated sophisticated means of analysis that used to focus upon the concepts and semantic relationships as well.
Nowadays, with the revolution of technology, Content Analysis is used for analyzing various aspects of content for exploring mental models alongside the cognitive, linguistic, cultural, social and historical significance of content.
In this post, we will dive deep into the world of Content Analysis, and understand how it plays a crucial role in finding out the statistical impact of a particular kind of content. So, without any further ado, let us get started right away
Introduction to the Content Analysis
Content Analysis is a quantitative as well as a qualitative method that offers a more objective evaluation of the content.
It will, for sure, be more accurate than the comparison based upon the impressions of any listener. It is more effective than a review or evaluation. You will find the essential numbers and percentages to gauge the performance of your content.
You can use content analysis for- Removing subjectivities from your summaries & Simplifying the detection of trends in your niche.
For channelizing content analysis, you generally collect data from oral, visual or written texts. This kind of data is found in books, magazines, newspapers, speeches, films, interviews, photographs, social media, web and different other sorts of content.
All in all, Content Analysis is an expert level technique that helps in finding out the purpose, effects, and messages of any form of communication content.
Let us now have a look upon the types of texts in Content Analysis-
- The written text for instance papers and books
- Oral text for instant theatrical performance and speech
- Iconic text for instance paintings, drawings, and icons
- Audio-visual text for instance TV programs, videos, and movies
- Hypertexts such as texts found on the Internet
Questions that every Content Analysis should Answer
As per the suggestion of Klaus Krippendorff, there should be six questions that should be addressed by every Content Analysis-
- Which data or information are investigated or analysed?
- How are the data and related information defined or characterised?
- From what population or the kinds of the populace are data drawn?
- What is the relevant context of the content?
- What are the limits of your content analysis?
- What is to be measured with the content analysis?
Types of Content Analysis
As discussed above, Quantitative and Qualitative are two forms of Content Analysis, and their difference will help you understand the significance of these two analyses-
1. Quantitative Content Analysis
You can use it by focusing upon counting and measuring the occurrence of specific phrases, words, concepts, and subjects. For instance, if you are performing content analysis for a speech on employment issues, terms such as jobs, unemployment, work, etc. will be focused and analyzed.
2. Qualitative Content Analysis
Such kind of content analysis focuses upon interpretation and understanding of a particular type of content. For instance, if we perform qualitative analysis upon the aforestated Employment Issue Speech Example, you will look for the term unemployment and other terms (inequality, economy, etc.) next to it. Then, you should analyze the relationships of these terms to gauge the intentions and semantic relations of these terms and concepts in the campaigns.
These two types of Content Analysis can further be understood as Conceptual Analysis and Relational Analysis. Let us understand this version of content analysis division as well-
3. Conceptual Analysis
Conceptual analysis is similar to Quantitative Analysis and performed in a specific manner. While doing Conceptual Content analysis, a concept is chosen for examination, and the study implicates quantifying and tallying its presence.
4. Conceptual Content Analysis Example
For example, say that you have the impression that your favorite author often writes about love. So with conceptual analysis, you can quickly determine how many times words such as crush, fondness, liking, adore, appear in the text.
5. Relational Analysis
Whereas in the Relational Analysis; it begins with identifying the ideas already present in the given text or set of documents. It is quite similar to Qualitative Analysis. It deals with the examination of relationships amongst the concepts and terms in content.
6. Relational Content Analysis Example
Returning to the same ‘Love’ example, you start with the first step and examine the relation of the content. You identify these words (such as crush, fondness, liking, adore) and then conclude what different meanings emerge from this group of words. It is then you complete that your favorite author writes about love very often.
This here, we can say that conceptual analysis focuses on looking at the occurrence of selected terms in the text, although the time can be implicit or explicit as well.
On the other hand, the relational analysis focuses on to look for semantic or essential relationships. Unique concepts, in and of themselves, are viewed as having no inherent significance. Instead, the implication is a product of the relationships among concepts in a text.
Why is Content Analysis important?
Now you must be thinking, why we use content analysis if it is time-consuming?
Content analysis is used by researchers to find out about the messages, purposes, and effects of communication content.
Possibly, it can be applied to examine any piece of writing or occurrence of recorded conversation, so that is the central fact, researchers use content analysis. They can also make assumptions about the producer and audience of the texts to analyze.
Moreover, content analysis is used in the confusing collection of fields, varying from gender and age issues, to psychology and mental science, marketing and media studies, literature and rhetoric, sociology and political science, ethnography and cultural studies, and many other fields of inquiry. Also, content analysis indicates a close relationship with socio- and psycholinguistics and plays a very integral role in the improvement of artificial intelligence.
Uses of Content Analysis
1) You can use Content Analysis for making inferences regarding the antecedents of communication such as-
- Analyzing the traits of individuals
- Inferring cultural aspects & change
- Providing legal & evaluative evidence
- Answering questions of disputed authorship
2) Content analysis is also used for describing and making inferences associated with the characteristics of any communication such as
- Describing trends in communication content
- Associating known characteristics of sources to messages they produce
- Comparing communication content to standards
- Establishing the relationship of known characteristics of audiences to messages produced for them
- Expressing different patterns of communication
- Evaluating techniques of persuasion
3) Content analysis can also be used for making inferences regarding the effects and consequences of communication such as-
- Measuring readability
- Analyzing the flow of information
- Assessing responses to communications
Because content analysis is spread to a wide range of fields covering a broad range of texts from marketing to social science disciplines, it has various possible goals. They majorly are-
- Determining the psychological and emotional state of a person and understanding their intentions
- Disclosing the distinction in communication and different contexts
- Finding correlations and patterns in how concepts are conveyed to different types of target audiences
- Revealing international differences in communication content in a variety of contexts
- Detecting the reality of propaganda and bias in communication
- Describing the attitudinal and behavioral responses to contact and many more
Content analysis advantages us to analyze communication and social interaction without the direct involvement of the participants.
It follows a systematic strategy that can be easily reproduced by other researchers, generating results with high reliability. Plus, it can be conducted at any time, any location at a little cost. This, all you need is to access the appropriate sources.
All coins are two-faced. Similarly, the content analysis also has certain advantages as well as disadvantages.
We have previously mentioned some of the benefits. Now coming to downsides-
Content analysis can be reductive. That is, it’s focusing on words or phrases in isolation can be over reductive, mainly when dealing with complex texts.
It is subjective, too, which means it almost always involves some level of personal interpretation, which in turn affects the reliability and validity of the conclusion and results. Content analysis is time-intensive. Manually coding large quantities of content is extremely time-consuming, and it can be difficult to automate or computerize effectively.
It is liable to increased mistakes, mainly when the relational analysis is used to attain a higher level of understanding. Also, it is continually devoid of hypothetical root or endeavors too liberally to draw crucial assumptions about the relationships and impacts implied in a study. It also tends to consist of word scores only.
6 Steps to Conduct Content Analysis
Further, there comes a question: how do we conduct such an analysis-
1) To start with content analysis usage in your research, you need to start with a clear, direct research question. You need to identify the problem as to the first and foremost step. After that is done, the second thing is to select the content you will analyze.
2) Choose a sample for analysis. In this step, you have to look for a medium such as newspaper, speech, etc. from where you will take your content. The parameter in terms of location, date range, etc. is all part of selecting the material.
3) Next, you have to determine the type of analysis. Then reduce the text to categories and code and define the units. It means you have to determine the level of analysis of the chosen text.
4) The group of meaning that will be coded. For example, you have to record the frequency of the set of words that frequently appear in the text, its theme, and concepts, the presence, and positioning of the image, etc. The collection of categories that you will use for coding, for example, objective characteristics like female, mother, lawyer, or conceptual like family-oriented, trustworthy, corrupt, etc
5) Next, you have to develop a set of rules for coding and code the text according to it, or we can say code relationships. Coding involves organizing the units of meaning into the previously defined categories.
Coding rules are essential, mainly when multiple researchers are included. But if you are coding all the text by yourself, it makes it more transparent and reliable. You code the text and record all the data in categories. This is done manually, but it can be computerized to make the process of counting and categorizing words and phrases a speedy task.
6) Lastly, you map out the representation, analyze the results, and conclude. Cone coding is complete; the collected data is examined to find patterns and draw conclusions in response to the research question with which we have started.
This is how you can conduct a successful content analysis. It has various advantages as well as disadvantages. Content analysis can help provide cultural and historical intuitions over time.
Wrapping it up!
Though it is time-consuming, Content Analysis is helpful for researchers in the examination of a particular text or set of documents in a manner to find a specific pattern. Content analysis can be widely used in any field as it is not related to one such field, which makes it flexible.
It is one of the most effective methods for establishing the connection between causes such as program content and effect like the size. For doing your surveys result-driven, it is essential that you systematically establish a relation between your survey findings and program output. Content Analysis will help you do so in an adept fashion.
For different organizations, content analysis is used for evaluating and improving their programming. So, what are your thoughts about the content analysis for your business model?
Share your views about the significance of content analysis in boosting the performance of your marketing or advertising campaigns with us in the comments below.