37 - Methodological considerations: steps in research employing content analysis systems  pp. 515-536

Methodological considerations: steps in research employing content analysis systems

By Charles P. Smith, Sheila C. Feld and Carol E. Franz

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Research involving the analysis of verbal material for content and/or style involves the following steps: (1) deciding what type of verbal material (and subject population) to sample, (2) choosing a method for obtaining the material, (3) collecting the material, (4) learning a content analysis system, (5) learning how to measure intercoder agreement, (6) coding (scoring) the material, and (7) analyzing the data. This chapter presents information and recommendations regarding these steps in research.

Following this chapter, appendix I provides practice stories with “expert scoring” for a number of the scoring systems included in this book. Anyone who wishes to learn to use one of these systems should read the chapters on that system and the section in this chapter on scorer training and then follow the directions in appendix I for using the practice materials.

STEP I. DECIDING WHAT KIND OF VERBAL MATERIAL TO OBTAIN

The nature of the verbal material to be obtained is determined by the following considerations: the type of variable to be measured (e.g., content or style, individual or group characteristic); the number of variables to be measured from the same sample of verbal material; and the time period to be dealt with (past or present).