Content Analysis in Qualitative Interviewing

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    David Morgan
    I used the Search Function for Methodspace as a whole, and located several potential useful discussion of Content Analysis in other Discussion groups.
    In “Methods Q & A”, check out the Discussion called “Content Analysis”. I can’t get the “link” tool to work, but here is the URL:
    For a discussion of “Text Mining” as a form of Content Analysis, trY:

    David Morgan

    Subject: My own Opinion about Qualitative Analysis

    First, I’ve attached a couple of older articles from 1993 in Qualitative Health Research, about what I called “Qualitative Content Analysis. Apparently several people have used that label for a variety of different approaches, so the best bet would be to consider my own ideas as just one option.

    In that research, we began by doing a classic Content Analysis that marked and counted “manifest content” in our interview transcripts. The second step was to look for interesting patterns in those counts, using percentages. Personally, I would not consider any of that very “qualitative”, but at the next stage we went back into the data and did an interpretative analysis to understand how and why those patterns appeared in our coding. (Notice that I said “in our coding” as opposed to “in our data”, because we were the ones who created the patterns through what we choose to code.)

    Now let me clarify two points. First, I think Content Analysis is an excellent method for analyzing data, so long as it serves a clearly justified purpose within a research project. All the same, I basically see it as converting data that was collected using qualitative methods into a format that can be analyzed using quantitative methods. That is entirely appropriate for some purposes, but I myself would not call it a form of “qualitative analysis”.

    The second point of clarification is to say more about what I would consider to be a qualitative version of an analysis that began with a set of “countable codes”. Two of the key phrases from the example I gave from my own work were: 1) interpretation and 2) understanding how and why. Those aren’t the only goals that can be pursued in qualitative analysis, but I would certainly accept “interpreting” and “understanding” as a good basis for doing qualitative analysis. Of course, the specific analytic methods that you use to achieve those goals are another matter — and if there is a way to use Content Analysis for those purposes, then that is fine with me.

    Isabel Pinho

    How do you use Nvivo to do a Content Analysis?.

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