A Comprehensive Guide About Content Analysis For Academic Researchers

Content analysis is a research method used to find the patterns among the recorded information. In this method, the researchers collect the information by conducting interviews, exploring textbooks and screening already published data in the scholarly articles. The content for this analysis may be in the form of pictures, text or social media posts. But the goal of this analysis is to present the qualitative text or content in a quantitative form. It contains a series of organization, coding, scheming and interpreting steps. This article is a comprehensive guide explaining the main features of content analysis, the research approach, and the type of sources useful for it.

What are the main features of content analysis?

Content analysis has several exciting features that make this method universally accepted. First, it provides unobstructed data collection, which means you can analyze the responses or opinions without direct involvement with the respondents. In this unobstructed data collection, the researcher’s personality does not affect the results. Second, it is a transparent and replicable method of analysis that follows well-defined procedures so that anyone else can repeat it. Based on a well-defined set of rules, it yields high-quality results that bring transparency and reliability to scientific findings.

Third, this method of analysis is known for its flexibility. Flexibility means you can conduct this analysis at a low cost. It is all about accessing the appropriate sources for exploring the text that you can use to solve a scientific problem under study. Thus, the main features of content analysis include unobstructed data gathering, transparency, reliability, and high flexibility in terms of collection and cost. Many students who face difficulties in content analysis prefer to hire dissertation writing services uk.

Is content analysis inductive or deductive – Primary or secondary?

Content analysis is a method that we mostly use in qualitative studies. Thus, it is also applicable to both inductive and deductive approaches. It further consists of different types that deal with different research designs. Remember, the inductive analysis approach is useful only when you do not have previous information dealing with a phenomenon under study and if the data is fragmented. Contrary to the inductive method, the deductive method is helpful when a study aims to test a theory in different circumstances. A deductive approach to analysis also works well when the goal of a researcher is to compare different categories at multiple periods. 

Moreover, content analysis is a primary research method that often uses secondary sources of data collection. But there is no hard and fast rule to using the secondary sources in this method. You can also use this method to analyze the responses or opinions collected by primary means (interviews, surveys, case studies and questionnaires). Thus, this analysis method is flexible in terms of sources of data collection and research approaches. We can use it in qualitative-deductive and qualitative-inductive research designs with primary and secondary data collection sources.     

What are the types of content analysis?

Content analysis is of two types, namely, conceptual analysis and relational analysis. The first one is concerned with the frequency and existence of content. The latter takes the conceptual analysis to the next step by further exploring the relationship among concepts within a text. Both conceptual and relational analysis provides different results, interpretation and meanings.  

What are the three forms of content analysis?

Content analysis is a common method for qualitative research designs. It has three main approaches: conventional analysis, direct analysis, and summative analysis. These approaches aim to analyze the meaning of the content or text so one can extract useful consequences. Moreover, all these forms differ based on the origin of codes, threads to reliability and coding scheme.

  1. Conventional analysis: It is the form of analysis that drives the coding categories directly from the data or text collected.
  2. Direct analysis: Unlike conventional analysis, the direct analysis starts from a theory or research finding that guides initial coding.
  3. Summative analysis: This form of analysis includes comparing or counting specific keywords or content. Later, the counting and comparison lead to the interpretation of the overall text. 

The author (based on the availability of data, nature of the study and convenience in making a coding scheme) selected any of these approaches to address trustworthiness in analysis.

What are the seven basic stages of content analysis?

Content analysis involves a series of organization and interpretation steps of the material gathered through individual interviews, books, articles and responses. The following are the seven steps or stages that a content analyzer can use systematically.

  1. Material editing: Whatever method you use to collect data, it always needs editing of the material. Editing the material means revisions in compiling and organization of data.
  2. Free-floating method of reading: In this type of reading, you should adopt a theoretical distancing approach and involve openness to all the field experiences while reading the collected data.  
  3. Recognition of units of analysis: It is the act of grouping together theresponses depicting the same meanings and identifying the content that exists solely in the data sets.
  4. Reconsideration of units of analysis for coding:  This step is all about reconsidering the information to assign codes to them, using information based on the unit analysis.
  5. Construction of categories: Based on the codes, in the fifth step of the content analysis, you need to make themes or categories to sort the material systematically. 
  6. Discussion of the topic based on the analysis: Categorization and coding help you understand the hidden story behind data. At this step, you need to link this story with the different bodies of literature.
  7. Prove the validity of your findings: As content analysis deals explicitly with the qualitative data, the validity of the information and data presented matters a lot in this analysis method.


Content analysis is a qualitative method of research that analyses textual information to visualize patterns in the collected information. Transparency, reliability, unobstructed data collection and high flexibility are essential features of this type of analysis. It works well for the qualitative-inductive and qualitative deductive research, either sourced with primary or secondary data. Conceptual and relational analyses are its important types. Moreover, the important form of this type of analysis includes conventional analysis, direct analysis and summative analysis. Apart from all, you can complete the whole analysis in seven simple steps.

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