Content analysis is a technique used in research on communication, literature, education, and politics, among other fields of study. If your thesis is a quantitative investigation, it’s likely that you can use content analysis as a data collection instrument. This technique used in the collection of research data is intended to “study and analyze communication in an objective, systematic and quantitative manner”, according to the classic definition of Bernard Berelson in his book Content Analysis in Communications Research of 1952. The publication of this book constituted in 1952 a novel imprint of Berelson because it included the analysis of contents to the investigation of mass media.
Subsequently, the use of this technique was generalized for all studies involving forms of communication.
In what type of research can I use content analysis?
It’s a technique for quantitative research. It is consistent with the objective of describing a research variable. In addition, this technique is valid if the objective of the research is to analyze.
Therefore, the content analysis does not consist of a technique to achieve the objectives of interpreting or explaining a variable.
In the same way, it’s a systematic technique since it involves the selection of a sample and the disposition of the data collected in categories for later analysis. Similarly, content analysis can also be comparative; that is, it can be applied to the different elements of a sample to compare them with each other. Some examples of research in which content analysis can be used are as follows:
With the analysis of contents, the oral or written expressions of a group of patients can be studied. It’s a tool that can be used in conjunction with other techniques. In this sense, content analysis will not have interpretative purposes, but will work to compare patients with each other and categorize units of their speeches.
Analyze the application of rules and policies
Given its quantitative nature, content analysis allows us to verify whether standards, policies, or standards established for communication are met. For this reason, research with the purpose of corroborating this type of hypothesis finds in the content analysis a systematic technique to achieve such ends. In this way, the content emitted by a specific entity is compared with the regulations arranged to investigate its application.
Political marketing campaigns
Candidate campaigns can be analyzed based on data collection carried out with content analysis. Likewise, the campaigns of different candidates can be compared in relation to the contents of their messages. With this type of research you can find persuasive patterns, predominant elements in the discourse and values that the candidate represents. In addition to conducting discourse-oriented analysis. It’s possible to make measurements in relation to the number of messages issued in social media.
Content analysis can describe the content of advertising campaigns. In this sense, its use can lead to identify advertising strategies. Similarly, it offers the possibility of analyzing the use of language in the marketing campaign of a product or service.
With the analysis of contents, discourses of various kinds can be analyzed. For example, it’s possible to investigate through this technique the opinions of various individuals regarding a subject or variable. In this way, it allows comparisons between speeches and highlighting their fundamental aspects.
Different expressions of a culture have the possibility of studying through this data collection technique. That is why content analysis can propose the investigation into the predominant values of a given culture. It also opens the possibility of buying cultures from each other, as well as addressing ways of communicating societies belonging to different historical times.
Identify communication characteristics
Through content analysis it’s possible to quantify elements of the messages issued by a sender. In this way, it’s a technique that makes it possible to characterize the content of the messages. It can also approximate explicit or covert intentions in a message issued. You can also make comparisons between messages from different media. On the other hand, it allows you to find styles and trends in communication styles.
Individuals and social groups
Through a content analysis you can study individuals and social groups. The attitudes, beliefs, perceptions and values of a person or a group can be investigated through a content analysis. The vocabulary of a group (for example, of a minority) can also be studied and categorized as part of a linguistic study. With this technique, different ways of thinking and group concerns can be explored.
Uses of language
Through this research technique an approach to language studies can be made. In this way, it’s possible to describe more used words or compare jargon of different groups with each other. Language studies have in the content analysis a methodological tool to develop research.
What should I keep in mind when carrying out a content analysis?
Remember that it is a quantitative research technique that requires the establishment of a universe of studies, as well as a sample. Similarly, the units of analysis must be defined, which constitute the segments of the message to be analyzed and categorized.