Skip Nav

Server Error

Additional Information

❶Besides, the analyzing of data is enhanced by reference to the existing literature and using this to raise questions about whether the researcher's findings are consistent with or different from extant research ibid. By systematically evaluating texts e.

Getting Help with Document Analysis Qualitative Research

404 - File or directory not found.
An Introduction to Document Analysis
Navigation menu

First, case study research as a research strategy within qualitative social research is briefly presented. Then, a basic introduction to qualitative content analysis as an interpretation method for qualitative interviews and other data material is given. Finally the use of qualitative content analysis for developing case studies is examined and evaluated. The author argues in favor of both case study research as a research strategy and qualitative content analysis as a method of examination of data material and seeks to encourage the integration of qualitative content analysis into the data analysis in case study research.

Research Question, Aim and Structure of the Paper. There has been an ongoing debate on the appropriateness of different approaches and methods in social research. As a matter of fact, many authors point to the heated discussions, sometimes even "wars" the so-called "paradigm war" , between the adherents of quantitative so-called "QUANs" and qualitative research so-called "QUALs" designs e.

One main characteristic of this dispute seems to be the dichotomous way in which qualitative and quantitative research methods were presented as well as the resulting strict contraposition of the two cf. On the one hand, this definition puts forth the main points of what qualitative research is about, but it also demonstrates how it is positioned or tries to position itself in contrast to quantitative research.

NEUMAN goes even further by stating that there are basically two categories of data collection techniques: While the first means collecting data in the form of numbers the second means collecting data in the form of words or pictures ibid.

This is of course only a very superficial and over-simplified assumption of the distinction between quantitative and qualitative research methods. Moreover, qualitative research methods have often faced acceptance problems and academic and disciplinary resistances, which are partly due to the politics embedded in this field of discourse cf. However, great efforts have also been made to reconcile both sides or, where not possible, at least to soothe the dispute , thus providing the opportunity to exploit the advantages of both approaches and opening the way for synergy effects e.

These attempts share the conception that qualitative and quantitative methods should be viewed as complementary rather than as rival camps JICK, , p. This has led to the appearance of mixed method approaches and the use of triangulation e.

Besides, in the course of the last century especially the second half of it , the development of qualitative methods showed impressive advances and results, thus helping to gain more acceptance not only in the field of social research cf.

This paper also aims at helping to overcome the strict contraposition of qualitative and quantitative research. As the following sections will show, the combination and mixing of different research methods bears an enormous potential for the advancement of social research. This section presents the research question underlying the analysis and discussion in the following sections and gives a short outline of the paper, explaining its aim, structure and scope. However, this qualitatively oriented approach to content analysis—a discipline traditionally dominated by quantitative methods—has mainly been discussed and used within the German-speaking scientific community and does not seem to have attracted as much attention internationally as it actually deserves 2.

However, when analyzing the frequency of keywords considerable deviations from the citation analysis turned up: Case studies are widely used in organizational studies and across the social sciences, and there is some suggestion that the case study method is increasingly being used and with a growing confidence in the case study as a rigorous research strategy in its own right cf.

STAKE concurs, suggesting that case studies have become "one of the most common ways to do qualitative inquiry" p. However, there have also been traditional prejudices against case study strategy in such a way that case studies have been viewed as a less desirable form of inquiry for instance cf.

Besides, it was claimed that case studies lack in rigor and reliability and that they do not address the issue of generalizability in contrast to quantitative methods HARTLEY, , p. The author argues in favor of both case study research as a research strategy—trying to disprove the critiques just mentioned—and qualitative content analysis as a method of examination of data material.

At the same time he seeks to encourage the integration of qualitative content analysis into the important step of data analysis in case study research. Therefore, the research question which is to be answered in the course of this paper is the following: What is the contribution qualitative content analysis can make as a method of text analysis for interpreting interview transcripts and other documents in case study research?

Or, put more generally: What is the contribution of using qualitative content analysis as an interpretation and analysis method for developing case studies? This paper aims at exploring and discussing the possibilities of applying qualitative content analysis as a text interpretation method in case study research 3. Then, a basic introduction to qualitative content analysis as an interpretation and analysis method for text documents—especially the transcripts of qualitative interviews—and other data material is given, with the focus on Philipp MAYRING's approach to qualitative content analysis.

Finally, the use of qualitative content analysis for conducting case study research is examined and evaluated. Since this paper only aims to serve as the starting point for a more thorough discussion of the application of qualitative content analysis for case study research, the scope is rather narrow. Providing only an introduction to the theoretical argument, the need for further theoretical discussion as well as the empirical testing of the argument is obvious.

Besides, due to the limited scope of this paper and my own research interests, the focus will mainly be on organizational and managerial research, even though both qualitative content analysis as well as case study research can be used in a much wider range of research fields see also Sections 3.

STAKE concurs, suggesting that case studies have become "one of the most common ways to do qualitative inquiry," but at the same time concedes that "they are neither new nor essentially qualitative" p. In any case, quoting one of the most prominent experts in case study research, Robert K. YIN, we can say that "[u]sing case studies for research purposes remains one of the most challenging of all social science endeavors" YIN, a, p. This section gives a brief overview of case study research.

As the word research implies, the subject of interest here are research case studies. These must be distinguished from teaching case studies—i. The main points of case study research are presented only as far as they seem to be relevant for the analysis of the research question see 2. Given this purpose and the scope of the paper, this brief description can by no means serve as an introduction to case study research.

For an extensive review and analysis of case study research reference should be made to the state-of-the-art literature e. According to YIN a, p. In fact, case studies seem to be the preferred strategy when "how or "why" questions are being posed, when the investigator has little control over events, and when the focus is on a contemporary phenomenon within some real-life context YIN, , p.

In such a setting, a case study would be an explanatory one ibid. Depending on the type of research question posed, the extent of control an investigator has over actual behavioral events, and the degree of focus on contemporary as opposed to historical events, there are also exploratory and descriptive case studies YIN, a, pp.

In contrast to this, STAKE identifies three types of case studies— intrinsic , instrumental , and collective —with the distinction between intrinsic and instrumental a collective case study is instrumental study extended to several cases addressing the degree to which the focus is on the unique or the generalizable features of the case research pp.

As a matter of interest, a common concern about case studies put forward by their critics is that they provide little basis for scientific generalization YIN, a, p. YIN's a answer to this:. In this sense, the case study […] does not represent a 'sample', and in doing a case study, your goal will be to generalize theories analytical generalization and not to enumerate frequencies statistical generalization " p. Before we take a look at the individual steps in the process of conducting case study research, it is now time to deliver a definition of what case study research actually is.

HARTLEY , for instance, states that case study research "consists of a detailed investigation, often with data collected over a period of time, of phenomena, within their context," with the aim being "to provide an analysis of the context and processes which illuminate the theoretical issues being studied" p.

In this respect, it is important to note that case studies have an important function in generating hypotheses and building theory cf. Finally, YIN a, pp. Given this definition it might be important to note that a case study is not a method but a research strategy cf.

As matter of fact, case study as a research strategy comprises an all-encompassing method, which means that a number of methods may be used—either qualitative, quantitative or both cf.

Therefore, a case study cannot be defined through its research methods, but rather in terms of its theoretical orientation and interest in individual cases HARTLEY, , p.

Besides, case study research design can be used with other research strategies to address related research questions in different phases of a research project, and yet a further strategy would be to start with exploratory case study research and then to test the emerging findings in wider survey-based research HARTLEY, , p.

According to HARTLEY research design is "the argument for the logical steps which will be taken to link the research question s and issues to data collection, analysis and interpretation in a coherent way" p.

Subsequently, it will be helpful to consider whether the case study will be exploratory, descriptive or explanatory and a key decision to be made is whether the research will be based on a single case study or on multiple cases HARTLEY, , p. However, going into greater detail concerning these issues would be beyond the scope of this paper.

Furthermore, for case studies, theory development as part of the design phase is essential, whether the ensuing case study's purpose is to develop or test theory, with theory development taking place prior to the collection of any case study data being an essential step in doing case studies YIN, a, pp.

However, depending on the depth and range of the extant literature, the initial focus of the case study may be quite focused or broad and open-ended. Therefore and because the case study strategy is ideally suited to exploration of issues in depth and following leads into new areas of new constructions of theory, the theoretical framework at the beginning may not be the same one that survives to the end HARTLEY, , p.

Besides, theory development does not only facilitate the data collection phase of the ensuing case study, the appropriately developed theory also is the level at which the generalization of the case study results will occur.

This role of theory has been characterized by YIN a as "analytic generalization" and has been contrasted with a different way of generalizing results, known as "statistical generalization" pp. Last but not least, a major issue in designing case study research is the maximization of conditions related to design quality, i. The four conditions or tests are cf. A detailed explanation of these concepts can be found in numerous textbooks on social science methods e.

However, these issues will be addressed again in Section 4. This section will give a short overview of the main steps in undertaking case studies, drawing mainly from YIN a 's seminal work on case study research. According to YIN a there are six possible sources of evidence for case studies: Indeed, the case study's unique strength is "its ability to deal with a full variety of evidence—documents, artifacts, interviews, and observations" YIN, a, p.

This will help to refine the data collection plans with respect to both the content of the data and the procedures to be followed. As another fundamental characteristics he puts forth that "you do not start out with a priori theoretical notions" ibid. According to HARTLEY , data collection and analysis are "developed together in an iterative process," which can be a strength as it allows for theory development which is grounded in empirical evidence p.

Besides, a careful description of the data and the development of categories in which to place behaviors or process have proven to be important steps in the process of analyzing the data. The data may then be organized around certain topics, key themes or central questions, and finally the data need to be examined to see how far they fit or fail to fit the expected categories ibid.

YIN a maintains that data analysis consists of "examining, categorizing, tabulating, testing, or otherwise recombining both quantitative and qualitative evidence to address the initial propositions of a study" p. According to YIN a, pp. He contends that any of these strategies can be used in practicing five specific techniques for analyzing case studies: Finally, checking the findings with the case study participants can be a valuable part of the analysis and can enhance validity HARTLEY, , p.

Besides, the analyzing of data is enhanced by reference to the existing literature and using this to raise questions about whether the researcher's findings are consistent with or different from extant research ibid. In a final step—or a final series of steps—the results and findings of a case study need to be brought to closure.

This step is called reporting, with numerous forms of reports being available, and the typical case study report being a lengthy narrative YIN, , p. This section provides a brief introduction to qualitative content analysis as a text analysis method for qualitative social research.

At the end of this section, quality criteria and validation issues relevant for qualitative content analysis will be highlighted see Section 4. However, there does not seem to exist a homogenous understanding of this method at present, but originally the term "referred only to those methods that concentrate on directly and clearly quantifiable aspects of text content, and as a rule on absolute and relative frequencies of words per text or surface unit" TITSCHER et al.

Later, the concept was extended to include all those procedures which operate with categories, but which seek at least to quantify these categories by means of a frequency survey of classifications ibid. It is "essentially a coding operation," with coding being "the process of transforming raw data into a standardized form" BABBIE, , p.

They contend that "coding forces the researcher to make judgments about the meanings of contiguous blocks" and that coding is "the heart and soul" of whole text analysis ibid. According to them, classical content analysis "comprises techniques for reducing texts to a unit-by-variable matrix and analyzing that matrix quantitatively to test hypotheses" and the researcher can produce a matrix by applying a set of codes to a set of qualitative data e.

More will be said on the topic of coding in Sections 4. The development of content analysis is fundamentally connected to the development of mass media and international politics and content analysis has gained significance in the first half of the twentieth century with the dramatic expansion of mass communication MAYRING, , p. In fact, the theoretical basis of the first moves towards analyses of contents was Harold D.

But even before that, different approaches to analysis and comparison of texts in hermeneutic contexts e. Bible interpretations , early newspaper analysis, graphological procedures and even Freudian dream analysis can be seen as early precursors of content analysis MAYRING, a, [6].

According to GILLHAM , the "essence of content analysis is identifying substantive statements—statements that really say something" p. Obviously, classical content analysis is essentially a quantitative method with the core and central tool being its system of categories cf.

The simplest type of evaluation consequently consists of counting the numbers of occurrences per category assuming there is a relationship between frequency of content and meaning. Besides, different indices which correlate two separate measurements and contingencies, more complex procedures can also be used for analysis TITSCHER et al. BERELSON's book "Content analysis in communication research" first published was the first compendium of the methods and goals of quantitative content analysis which had been developed up to that time, and which concentrated on assessment on the basis of frequency analyses BERELSON, He contended that the quantitative orientation neglected the particular quality of texts and that it was important to reconstruct contexts.

MAYRING a, [6] even speaks of "a superficial analysis without respecting latent contents and contexts, working with simplifying and distorting quantification. MAYRING's qualitative content analysis tries to overcome these shortcomings of classical quantitative content analysis by applying a systematic, theory-guided approach to text analysis using a category system cf.

In fact, qualitative content analysis claims to synthesize two contradictory methodo logical principles: BRYMAN states that qualitative content analysis is "probably the most prevalent approach to the qualitative analysis of documents" and that it "comprises a searching-out of underlying themes in the materials being analyzed" p.

Articles on the Profession. Forums with Input from Topic Experts. Interview Questions and Answers. Industry News and Press Releases. Monthly eJournal , and much more.

What is Document Analysis? Benchmarking studies Business plans Business process and procedure documentation Company memos Competing product literature and reviews Customer contracts Customer suggestions Requests for proposals System defect reports System specifications of existing systems Training guides Vision documents for related projects -- Chris Adams LinkedIn Profile.

Add to your list of documents for doc analysis company policy and procedure documents where they exist. The information recorded may be idiosyncratic or incomplete. Documents get misfiled, left on people's desks for long periods or simply just do not get fully completed at all. Even standard ways of collecting data in a police station may change, so there may be information that is available for one period of time and not another.

All of this will create gaps in data missing data as well as coding difficulties. The motivation to collect certain types of data will vary over time, perhaps related to the decision by a particular team to focus on a specific issue for a period of time or because of government targets.

Many of the above advantages and disadvantages apply to other secondary sources, but they vary a great deal with the type of source.

Analysis is more than coding

Main Topics

Privacy Policy

Document analysis is a social research method and is an important research tool in its own right, and is an invaluable part of most schemes of triangulation, the combination of methodologies in the study of the same phenomenon (Bowen, ).

Privacy FAQs

This article examines the function of documents as a data source in qualitative research and discusses document analysis procedure in the context of actual research experiences. Targeted to research novices, the article takes a nuts‐and‐bolts approach to document analysis. It describes the nature and forms of documents, outlines the advantages and limitations of document analysis, and.

About Our Ads

Document Analysis as a Qualitative Research Method Glenn A. Bowen WESTERN CAROLINA UNIVERSITY ABSTRACT This article examines the function of documents as a data source in qualitative research and discusses. Document Analysis as a Qualitative Research Method Glenn A. Bowen WESTERN CAROLINA UNIVERSITY Bowen, Glenn A., , 'Document Analysis as a Qualitative Research Method', Qualitative Research Journal, vol. 9, no. 2, pp.

Cookie Info

This article examines the function of documents as a data source in qualitative research and discusses document analysis procedure in the context of actual research experiences. Qualitative research is designed to explore the human elements of a given topic, while specific qualitative methods examine how individuals see and experienc.