The Use of Content Analysis

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One of the most common techniques to elicit information and recognize trends and patterns in the population, through texts, videos and other types of sources, is content analysis. Content Analysis (CA) is a widely used qualitative research approach to gather and analyse the content of text in a variety of disciplines, including history, journalism, political science, psychology and lately in computer science and information technology.

As a traditional analysis technique, CA has been used for over a hundred years. This technique first appeared with the purpose to analyse newspapers in order to build a better understanding on the peoples’ opinions and was named “Quantitative Newspaper Analysis” . With the growth of the mass media, researchers extended this type of analysis further, not only to aim at text material but to deal with other types of information sources such as radio and television. In addition, the appearance of computer science and information systems offered a lot in the evolution of content analysis as a research method. User generated content as well as databases with automatic records kept by systems were now also available to offer a large amount of information for analysis. Furthermore, the rise of World Wide Web gave access to an even larger set of information available to anyone who could have access to the internet. So through this rich source of information many researchers have tried to apply social sciences’ techniques to information and procedures available on-line such as text, graph, audio and video.

Results from open ended questions are usually analysed with content analysis in order to identify patterns and underlying trends. In this case, in For example, analysis of the comments under a video in youtube or even answers on a post in any blog can be analyzed with this approach in order to understand the different types of answers that were given and reveal peoples’ beliefs through the set of comments.
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