Analyzing and Reporting the Data in Content Analysis

1. Cross-Check Preliminary Results

Things are not always what they seem. Try to verify findings by using related variables or slightly different analysis methods. This is also a time to check on the reliability of the coding process.

2. Apply Statistical Tests

In some circumstances, statistical tests of significance may be appropriate. Use them to rule out chance as an explanation for the results.

3. Make External Comparisons

Compare the content analysis results to other forms of evidence, either in the same evaluation or from the literature on the topic.

4. Do Not Overstate the Conclusions

Remember the origins of the data and the assumptions they are based on. Confidence in the answers to evaluation questions and the forcefulness of the implications derived from them must fit the data and the methodology. Sometimes confidence is high but, at other times, the conclusions must be carefully qualified.

Source: GAO (2013), Content Analysis: A Methodology for Structuring and Analyzing Written Material: PEMD-10.3.1, BiblioGov.

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