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The four conditions or tests are cf. A detailed explanation of these concepts can be found in numerous textbooks on social science methods e. However, these issues will be addressed again in Section 4. This section will give a short overview of the main steps in undertaking case studies, drawing mainly from YIN a 's seminal work on case study research.

Analyze Qualitative Data

According to YIN a there are six possible sources of evidence for case studies: documents, archival records, interviews, direct observation, participant-observation, and physical artifacts pp. Indeed, the case study's unique strength is "its ability to deal with a full variety of evidence—documents, artifacts, interviews, and observations" YIN, a, p. YIN a, pp. This will help to refine the data collection plans with respect to both the content of the data and the procedures to be followed.

As another fundamental characteristics he puts forth that "you do not start out with a priori theoretical notions" ibid. According to HARTLEY , data collection and analysis are "developed together in an iterative process," which can be a strength as it allows for theory development which is grounded in empirical evidence p.

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Besides, a careful description of the data and the development of categories in which to place behaviors or process have proven to be important steps in the process of analyzing the data. The data may then be organized around certain topics, key themes or central questions, and finally the data need to be examined to see how far they fit or fail to fit the expected categories ibid.

YIN a maintains that data analysis consists of "examining, categorizing, tabulating, testing, or otherwise recombining both quantitative and qualitative evidence to address the initial propositions of a study" p. According to YIN a, pp. He contends that any of these strategies can be used in practicing five specific techniques for analyzing case studies: pattern matching, explanation building, time-series analysis, logic models, and cross-case synthesis YIN, a, pp. Finally, checking the findings with the case study participants can be a valuable part of the analysis and can enhance validity HARTLEY, , p.

Besides, the analyzing of data is enhanced by reference to the existing literature and using this to raise questions about whether the researcher's findings are consistent with or different from extant research ibid. In a final step—or a final series of steps—the results and findings of a case study need to be brought to closure. This step is called reporting, with numerous forms of reports being available, and the typical case study report being a lengthy narrative YIN, , p. STAKE , p. This section provides a brief introduction to qualitative content analysis as a text analysis method for qualitative social research.

At the end of this section, quality criteria and validation issues relevant for qualitative content analysis will be highlighted see Section 4. However, there does not seem to exist a homogenous understanding of this method at present, but originally the term "referred only to those methods that concentrate on directly and clearly quantifiable aspects of text content, and as a rule on absolute and relative frequencies of words per text or surface unit" TITSCHER et al. Later, the concept was extended to include all those procedures which operate with categories, but which seek at least to quantify these categories by means of a frequency survey of classifications ibid.

It is "essentially a coding operation," with coding being "the process of transforming raw data into a standardized form" BABBIE, , p. They contend that "coding forces the researcher to make judgments about the meanings of contiguous blocks" and that coding is "the heart and soul" of whole text analysis ibid.

According to them, classical content analysis "comprises techniques for reducing texts to a unit-by-variable matrix and analyzing that matrix quantitatively to test hypotheses" and the researcher can produce a matrix by applying a set of codes to a set of qualitative data e. More will be said on the topic of coding in Sections 4. The development of content analysis is fundamentally connected to the development of mass media and international politics and content analysis has gained significance in the first half of the twentieth century with the dramatic expansion of mass communication MAYRING, , p.

In fact, the theoretical basis of the first moves towards analyses of contents was Harold D. But even before that, different approaches to analysis and comparison of texts in hermeneutic contexts e. Bible interpretations , early newspaper analysis, graphological procedures and even Freudian dream analysis can be seen as early precursors of content analysis MAYRING, a, [6].

According to GILLHAM , the "essence of content analysis is identifying substantive statements—statements that really say something" p. BERELSON defined content analysis like this: "Content analysis is a research technique for the objective, systematic, and quantitative description of the manifest content of communication" p.

Obviously, classical content analysis is essentially a quantitative method with the core and central tool being its system of categories cf. The simplest type of evaluation consequently consists of counting the numbers of occurrences per category assuming there is a relationship between frequency of content and meaning.

Besides, different indices which correlate two separate measurements and contingencies, more complex procedures can also be used for analysis TITSCHER et al. BERELSON's book "Content analysis in communication research" first published was the first compendium of the methods and goals of quantitative content analysis which had been developed up to that time, and which concentrated on assessment on the basis of frequency analyses BERELSON, He contended that the quantitative orientation neglected the particular quality of texts and that it was important to reconstruct contexts.

MAYRING a, [6] even speaks of "a superficial analysis without respecting latent contents and contexts, working with simplifying and distorting quantification. MAYRING's qualitative content analysis tries to overcome these shortcomings of classical quantitative content analysis by applying a systematic, theory-guided approach to text analysis using a category system cf.

BRYMAN states that qualitative content analysis is "probably the most prevalent approach to the qualitative analysis of documents" and that it "comprises a searching-out of underlying themes in the materials being analyzed" p. Being a little bit more specific he defines qualitative content analysis in the following way:. There is an emphasis on allowing categories to emerge out of data and on recognizing the significance for understanding the meaning of the context in which an item being analyzed and the categories derived from it appeared" BRYMAN, , p.

However, this seems to be rather the description of a general approach to analyzing documents qualitatively. In contrast to this, MAYRING's qualitative content analysis is not only an approach to analyzing documents but also a sophisticated and concretely described method at the same time. Before presenting MAYRING's qualitative content analysis, a short overview of the basic assumptions and definitions of qualitative research will be given.

Thus, a clear and concise definition of qualitative research can hardly be found. Therefore, qualitative methods are often used when the field of research is yet not well understood or unknown and aim at generating new hypotheses and theories, while quantitative methods are frequently used for testing hypotheses and evaluating theories cf. It consists of a set of interpretive, material practices that make the world visible.

These practices transform the world.

Grounded Theory

They turn the world into a series of representations, including field notes, interviews, conversations, photographs, recordings, and memos to the self. At this level, qualitative research involves an interpretive, naturalistic approach to the world. This means that qualitative researchers study things in their natural settings, attempting to make sense of, or to interpret, phenomena in terms of the meanings people bring to them" p.

Its development Section 4. MAYRING's concept of qualitative content analysis was developed in the s in a longitudinal study about psycho-social consequences of unemployment, when about open-ended interviews yielded more than 20, pages of transcripts, which had to be analyzed in a qualitatively oriented way cf. Since then MAYRING's works seem to have become standard literature on qualitative content analysis and some regularly appear in new editions e. The main idea in the development of MAYRING's approach is "to preserve the advantages of quantitative content analysis as developed within communication science and to transfer and further develop them to qualitative-interpretative steps of analysis" MAYRING, a, [2].

The object of qualitative content analysis can basically be any kind of recorded communication, i. However, not only the manifest content of the material is analyzed, but also so-called latent content as well as formal aspects of the material MAYRING, b, pp. Given this background, MAYRING a offers the following definition of qualitative content analysis: "an approach of empirical, methodological [sic! Obviously, the strength of qualitative content analysis is that it is strictly controlled methodologically and that the material is analyzed step-by-step. Central to it is a category system which is developed right on the material employing a theory-guided procedure.

Categories are understood as the more or less operational definitions of variables. Above, we said that qualitative content analysis aims to preserve the advantages of quantitative content analysis but at the same time apply a more qualitative text interpretation see Section 4.

Fitting the material into a model of communication: It should be determined on what part of the communication inferences shall be made, to aspects of the communicator his experiences, opinions, feelings , to the situation of the text production, to the socio-cultural background, to the text itself or to the effect of the message. Systematic, rule-based analysis: The material is to be analyzed step by step, following rules of procedure, devising the material into content analytical units.

Categories in the center of analysis: The aspects of text interpretation, following the research questions, are put into categories, which were carefully founded and revised within the process of analysis feedback loops. Subject-reference instead of technique: instead of merely being a set of techniques for text analysis, the connection to the concrete subject of analysis is a very important point for qualitative content analysis.

This implies that the procedures of content analysis cannot be fixed but have to be adapted depending on the subject and its context. Verification of the specific instruments through pilot studies: Due to the subject-reference, fully standardized methods are abstained from. That is why the procedures need to be tested in a pilot study. Inter-subjective verifiability is a case in point here. Theory-guided analysis: Technical fuzziness of qualitatively oriented research needs to be balanced by theoretical stringency.

This means that the state-of-the-field of the respective research subject as well as subjects closely related are required to be taken into account and integrated into the analysis. Inclusion of quantitative steps of analysis: Quantitative analyses are especially important when trying to generalize results. As a matter of fact, this notion of triangulation to argue in favor of an integration of qualitative and quantitative methods is not limited to content analysis but has been raised by many researchers cf.

Quality criteria of reliability and validity see also Section 4.

Qualitative Data Analysis - Research-Methodology

As a matter of fact, it is this kind of systematics what distinguishes content analysis from more interpretive, hermeneutic processing of text material MAYRING, , p. The seven components of content analysis listed above see Section 4. Consequently, MAYRING has developed a sequential model of qualitative content analysis and puts forward three distinct analytical procedures which may be carried out either independently or in combination, depending on the particular research question MAYRING, , p.

Summary : attempts to reduce the material in such a way as to preserve the essential content and by abstraction to create a manageable corpus which still reflects the original material. For this the text is paraphrased, generalized or abstracted and reduced. Explication : involves explaining, clarifying and annotating the material. As a first step a lexico-grammatical definition is attempted, then the material for explication is determined, and this is followed by a narrow context analysis, and a broad context analysis.

Finally an "explicatory paraphrase" is made of the particular portion of text and the explication is examined with reference to the total context. Structuring : corresponds more or less to the procedures used in classical content analysis and is also viewed as the most crucial technique of content analysis, the goal of which is to filter out a particular structure from the material.

Here the text can be structured according to content, form and scaling.


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The first stage is the determination of the units of analysis, after which the dimensions of the structuring are established on some theoretical basis and the features of the system of categories are fixed. Subsequently definitions are formulated and key examples, with rules for coding in separate categories, are agreed upon. In the course of a first appraisal of the material the data locations are marked, and in a second scrutiny these are processed and extracted. If necessary the system of categories is re-examined and revised, which necessitates a reappraisal of the material.

As a final stage the results are processed. Obviously, the central part of the process—structuring—is derived from classical content analysis, because here, too, units of coding and evaluation are set up and arranged in a schema of categories TITSCHER et al. However, the basic difference between classical content analysis and structuring within qualitative content analysis is the development and use of the coding agenda 7. However, "extraction" seems to be closely related to MAYRING's structuring since it literally means the extraction of the relevant information from the text by the means of using a category system.

Thus, the material is reduced and a new basis of information separate from the original text comes into existence ibid. Therefore they argue in favor of a theory-based category system, which is more open and can be changed during extraction when relevant information turns up but does not fit into the category system. Both the dimensions of existing categories can be modified and new categories can be designed.

It is actually a package of techniques from which the analyst can chose and then adapts to his research question 8. Figure 1 shows the basic proceeding of qualitative content analysis from the initial theory to the final analysis and interpretation. Among the procedures of qualitative content analysis MAYRING a, [8] hallmarks the following two approaches as central to developing a category system and finding the appropriate text components as a result: inductive category development and deductive category application.

Quantitative content analysis does not provide satisfactory answers to the question where the categories are derived from, and how the system of categories is developed.


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But within the framework of qualitative approaches it is essential to develop the aspects of interpretation—the categories—as closely as possible to the material, and to formulate them in terms of the material. The steps of inductive category development are displayed in Figure 2.

The main idea of the procedure is to formulate a criterion of definition, derived from the theoretical background and the research question, which determines the aspects of the textual material taken into account. Following this criterion the material is worked through and categories are deduced tentatively and step by step. Within a feedback loop the categories are revised, eventually reduced to main categories and checked in respect to their reliability MAYRING, a, [12].

Or, put the other way round: the technique of content analytical summary can be used furthermore for an inductive category development MAYRING, , p. Deductive category application works with previously formulated, theoretically derived aspects of analysis, which are brought into connection with the text. The qualitative step of analysis consists of a methodologically controlled assignment of the category to a passage of text MAYRING, a, [13]. Figure 3 shows the steps of deductive category application.

According to MAYRING a, [15]; , [15] the main idea here is to give explicit definitions, examples and coding rules for each deductive category, determining exactly under what circumstances a text passage can be coded with a category. Finally, those category definitions are put together within a coding agenda. Any kind of social research asserts its claims to fulfill certain quality criteria for measuring and collecting data.

It is widely accepted that measurement or the methods of measurement should be as objective, reliable and valid as possible cf. In fact, the research strategy that is regularly pursued in content analysis is governed by these traditional criteria of validity and reliability, where the latter is a precondition for the former but not vice versa TITSCHER et al. Since arguments concerning the content are judged to be more important than methodical issues in qualitative analysis, validity takes priority over reliability MAYRING, , p.

Two specific problems of content analysis that are often discussed in this context are problems of inference and problems of reliability TITSCHER et al. Problems of inference relate to the possibility of drawing conclusions, on the one hand, about the whole text on the basis of the text sample and, on the other hand, about the underlying theoretical constructs such as motives, attitudes, norms, etc. As a result, inference in content analysis confines itself only to specific features of external and internal validity. Problems of reliability : here, particular attention is paid to the trustworthiness of the coding.

The so-called inter-coder reliability shows to what extent different coders agree in the coding of the same text and intra-coder reliability explains how stable the coding of one coder is. Because of the problems of reliability, the coding of texts is usually assigned to multiple coders so that the researcher can see whether the constructs being investigated are shared and whether multiple coders can reliably apply the same codes MAYRING, , p.

Semantic validity relates to the meaning reconstruction of the material, and is expressed in the appropriateness of the category definitions, the key examples and the rules for coders. Sampling validity refers to the usual criteria for precise sampling and correlative validity refers to the correlation with some external criterion e. Predictive validity can only be used as a quality criterion if predictions can reasonably be made from the material in this case verification is usually easy and significant.

Construct validity relates, for instance, to previous success with similar constructs, established models and theories, and representative interpretations. Stability refers to whether the same results are obtained in a renewed application of the analytical tool to the same text and reproducibility is the extent to which the analysis achieves the same results under different circumstances, for instance with different coders. It can be measured through inter-coder reliability for which a range of measures and indices have been developed. MAYRING additionally notes another quality criterion that has gained in significance recently: communicative validation p.

The main idea behind this concept is to discursively achieve mutual consent and accordance about the results of the analysis between the researchers and the researched. Thus, it draws on the degree to which the original data were representative of a larger population ibid. Features of the units of evaluation : It will be examined whether the problem locations, where there is some disagreement about coding, differ systematically from the material.

Properties of individual categories : The question is whether instances of disagreement are particularly common with particular categories. Differentiation of categories : It will be checked whether the distinctions between categories are too fine. Properties of the coders : If the lack of reliability cannot be attributed to a , b , or c , then the problem is usually with the coders and may perhaps be solved by more careful selection, more thorough training, shorter operation periods, etc. The further development of new quality criteria calls for an analysis of where and what kind of other errors can be made or occur in conducting content analysis ibid.

This section explores and discusses the possibilities of applying qualitative content analysis as a text interpretation method in case study research and thus tries to find an answer to the research question initially posed see Section 2. The rising popularity of mixed methods approaches and the use of triangulation have already been mentioned briefly in the introduction of this paper. Having its origin in navigation, military strategy and geodetic surveying, the term triangulation in social research is used in a less literal sense to describe the use of multiple methods and measures of an empirical phenomenon cf.

Data accumulated by different methods but bearing on the same issue are part of what is called the " multi-method approach": "Different methods have different strengths and weaknesses. In fact, the "effectiveness of triangulation rests on the premise that the weaknesses in each single method will be compensated by the counter-balancing strengths of another" JICK, , p. Therefore, triangulation "can potentially generate what anthropologists call "holistic work" or "thick description" JICK, , p. In the case of using qualitative content analysis in case study research, triangulation takes actually place on two different levels.

On the first and more obvious level, data is triangulated by integrating different material and evidence see Section 5. On second level, triangulation takes place by applying a method of analysis qualitative content analysis that has not been particularly developed for this purpose to a different research design case study research. As was already shown in Section 3. Besides, we also saw that case study research has a major function in generating hypotheses and build theory. In fact, a theory or theoretical framework first emerges through the inductive approach of studying an empirical case or object, not through a deductive process.

As the author tried to demonstrate in Section 4. Hence, qualitative content analysis might be an appropriate analysis and interpretation method for case study research. As a matter of fact, its quantitative counterpart—classical content analysis—is repeatedly mentioned as a method of analyzing data in the context of conducting case study research cf. YIN, a, p.

Qualitative Data Analysis

Even though they concede that this is "not a particularly satisfactory approach," they claim that "it is not infrequently used" REMENYI et al. In Section 4. Besides it preserves the advantages of quantitative content analysis but at the same time apply a more qualitative text interpretation. Therefore, it can be argued that qualitative content analysis could prove to be a useful tool for analyzing data material in case study research. In fact, the contribution of using qualitative content analysis in case study research will be demonstrated on the basis of the following points: [ 76 ].

One of the strengths of qualitative content analysis is the way it tries to synthesize openness—as claimed by the qualitative research paradigm—and theory-guided investigation—usually demanded by the hypothetical-deductive paradigm.

Qualitative Data Analysis - Coding & Developing Themes

In fact, despite this openness, qualitative content analysis is strictly controlled methodologically and the material is analyzed in a step-by-step process see Section 4. It is this combination that fosters its strong ability to deal with complexity. Qualitative content analysis takes a holistic and comprehensive approach towards analyzing data material and thus achieves to almost completely grasp and cover the complexity of the social situations examined and social data material derived from them.

At the same time, qualitative content analysis uses a rule-based and methodologically controlled approach in order to deal with the complexity and gradually reduce it. The procedures of summary, explication and structuring step-by-step reduce complexity and filter out the main points of analysis in an iterative process. Therefore, qualitative content analysis perfectly fits the credo of case study research: helping to understand complex social phenomena see also Section 3. We just mentioned theory-guided analysis as one of the special strengths of qualitative content analysis see above, Section 5.

Theory-guided analysis also offers the chance to compare and complement the primary data collected within the research project with secondary data. In fact, experts in social research recommend to conduct interpretations of results on two levels: interpretation of the results of one's own survey and comparative interpretation of results and conclusions of existing theories and research results cf.

This analysis of complementing secondary data can help to ensure the quality of content analysis, especially validity MAYRING, , p. One of the key features of qualitative content analysis in contrast to classical quantitative content analysis is that the context is also central to the interpretation and analysis of the material.

In fact, it is not only the manifest content of the material that is important but also the latent content as well as formal aspects need to be taken into consideration cf. This is again in order to achieve a holistic and comprehensive analysis of complex social phenomena. As we have seen in Section 3. Therefore, research questions about "how" and "why" rather than "what" or "how much" are best suited to the case study strategy ibid. As shown above Section 4. This means that in a comprehensive study which aims at analyzing different kinds of data material, the same method can be applied to different types of evidence—a major advantage not only from a pragmatic point of view, but also as far as quality criteria are concerned.

Of course, case study research usually corresponds to such a comprehensive study. According to YIN a a major strength of case study data collection is the opportunity to use many different sources of evidence because the use of multiple sources of evidence in case studies allows an investigator to address a broader range of historical, attitudinal, and behavioral issues YIN, a, pp. In fact, GILLHAM states that case study "is a main method," within which different sub-methods are used: interviews, observations, document and record analysis, work samples etc p.

Furthermore, qualitative or expert interviews are a very common field of application for qualitative content analysis cf. According to YIN a one of the most important sources of case study information is the interview: "most commonly, case study interviews are of an open-ended nature , in which you can ask key respondents about the facts of a matter as well as their opinions about events" YIN, a, p.

Therefore, qualitative content analysis offers a rule-based, theory-guided method for analyzing interview transcripts, just in the way it is required by the principles of case study research. This is certainly a great advantage when dealing with various, heterogeneous types of data material. However, he fails to go into greater detail concerning this matter.

Qualitative research

As was discussed above Sections 4. These are especially important when trying to generalize results. They are predominant, but quantitative data and its analysis can add to the overall picture" p. According to JICK , "[q]ualitative data and analysis function as the glue that cements the interpretation of multimethod results" p. Moreover, the combination of qualitative and quantitative analyses has also been addressed in the field of case study research see above, Sections 3. As has already been mentioned, many experts in the field of socio-scientific research suggest using and combining several methods—so-called triangulation or cross-examination—in order to obtain more valid results see Sections 1.

Especially the combination of qualitative methods and quantitative methods seems to be appropriate in order to gain deeper insight and a more general view of the object of research cf. JICK, pp. The procedures of qualitative content analysis seem less appropriate, if the research question is highly open-ended, explorative, variable and working with categories would be a restriction, or if a more holistic, not step-by-step ongoing of analysis is planned MAYRING, b, p.

In fact, MAYRING recommends his qualitative content analysis in the case of theory-guided text analysis but rather not in the case of merely explorative-interpretive interpretation of the material p. Furthermore, due to the fact that qualitative content analysis first extracts the relevant parts of the text material and then analyzes them cf.

Last but not least, when using qualitative content analysis in case study research, one should be aware of the fact that "[r]eplicating a mixed-methods package […] is a nearly impossible task" JICK, , p. This paper tried to explore and discuss the possibilities of using qualitative content analysis in case study research. It highlighted the strengths of qualitative content analysis as a method that achieves to respect the credos of openness and theory-guided analysis at the same time.

In fact, with its rule-based logic and methodologically controlled step-by-step procedures of analysis it manages to combine the advantages of classical quantitative content analysis with a qualitatively oriented approach taking also context and other important points into consideration. Therefore, qualitative content analysis can be viewed as a comprehensive approach to data analysis, which seems to be especially suitable for case study research.

It can certainly contribute to adding and enhancing rigor, validity and reliability of case study research. This page provides an overview of these criteria and a number of techniques that researchers can use to meet them. Ranney, M. Academic Emergency Medicine, 22, Gives an outline the specific steps necessary to conduct a valid and reliable qualitative research project, with a focus on interview-based studies.

These elements include building the research team, preparing data collection guides, defining and obtaining an adequate sample, collecting and organizing qualitative data, and coding and analyzing the data. With a discussion on potential ethical considerations unique to qualitative research as it relates to emergency care research.

Dutch references: Wester, F. Mortelmans, D. Tweede druk. Approaches There are many different approaches to qualitative data analysis, like content analysis, structural analysis or framework analysis. The choice is related to the aims of the study. The most basic form is content analysis, an approach in which the categorization of themes is central. Other approaches focus on, for instance, the context in which events are storied how and why, see Riessman , or the thematic framework in which data can be classified.

Wertz et al. Read more: Braun, V. See chapter 8 on analysing qualitative data. Hodges, B. BMJ, a This article focuses on discourse analysis. It provides background information for those who will encounter this approach in their reading, rather than instructions for conducting such research.

Riessman, C. Los Angeles: Sage Publications. Smith, B. Quest, The authors consider five ways in which narratives can be analysed to incorporate the hows and whats of their telling: an analysis of conversation, an analysis of discourse, an analysis of how narratives are performed, an analysis of content, and an analysis of structure. Includes strengths and weaknesses and exemplars of each approach.

Wertz, F.