Resources Needed in Content Analysis

In content analysis, evaluators must consider three principal types of resources: an analyst with the technical knowledge and experience to plan and direct the content analysis, personnel to do the coding, and computer capability to carry out the analysis. At least one member of the project team should know about content analysis and have experience with it. This person then takes responsibility for planning the technical aspects of the work, training the team members who will make the classifications, supervising the production of a database, and either performing or directing the statistical analysis.

Team members knowledgeable about the subject matter must carefully read the text and code its passages. Except for the very smallest textual databases, the coding process is fairly labor-intensive. For example, in a recent AID evaluation, coding 280 interviews required approximately 4 person-weeks, even with the aid of computer software. This does not include the time devoted to developing the coding system (several days), transcribing the interviews and getting them into a form suitable for computer analysis (approximately 3 person-weeks of clerical staff time), and training the coders (2 days).

The resources of personnel to do coding and computer capability to do the analysis are frequently interrelated because the coding task can be carried out with software. For most GAO content analyses, the amount of data dictates whether analysis is to be done by computer. This means that the textual data must be suitable for computer processing and specialized programs must be available. (Appendix II reviews some of these programs.)

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

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