Preparing for Data Analysis in Content Analysis

The basic analytic task in content analysis is to count the occurrence of codes, whether all occurrences of a given category (for example, all occurrences of Stars and Stripes articles that portray a negative image of the military) or only certain subcategories of occurrences (for example, Separate counts of such articles in the Pacific and European editions). Planning the counting task in advance avoids duplicative and unnecessary effort. However, using computer programs to do the counting lessens the burden and helps the analysis evolve (assuming, of course, that the appropriate variables have been coded).

The choice of software is important because programs differ substantially. A form of analysis that might be easy to implement with one program can be awkward or even impossible with another. (Appendix II gives a brief summary of this variation.) Evaluators should consult with someone who is familiar with several types of software before choosing one and may find it advisable to use more than one computer package.

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

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