Business Research Methods

Business Research Methods
Content Analysis
Student Questionnaire Answer sheet
Look at these only after you have completed the whole questionnaire.
Question 1
Content analysis is described as an objective way to analyse qualitative data. Why
might content analysis be seen as objective?
Content analysis might be seen as objective because the codes used as the basis for the
analysis are derived from the literature. This removes some of the discretion of the
research, giving a more ‘neutral’ basis from which to undertake the analysis. However,
it could also be argued that some subjectivity remains simply because it is the
researcher himself or herself who actually selects those codes.
Question 2
Content analysis can be used as both a quantitative and qualitative means of analysis –
Content analysis can be a quantitative means of analysis where the process of analysis
simply involves the counting of the frequency of the words. It becomes a more
qualitative means of analysis when the research starts to draw out connections between
the words and tries to explain the possible meanings of the words in context.
Question 3
What are the three characteristics of coding categories? Why is it important that the
codes that you choose have these characteristics?
Coding categories should be clear: they need to be terms that are easily identifiable and
terms that are not easily confused or conflated with other terms.
Coding categories should be appropriate: you need to be able to justify how the terms
that you have chosen accurately reflect what you say they reflect.
Coding categories should be comprehensive: they need to cover the breadth of issues
raised in your research question and in the literature.
Question 4
Which of the following would be appropriate sources from which to derive codes?
a) academic literature
b) newspapers
c) textbooks
d) an intranet
e) the Internet
All of these would be useful sources of codes – with just one caveat. As with any other
information which is taken from the Internet, you must make sure that it is trustworthy
and is academically sound.
Question 5
What is the first stage of any content coding analysis, and how would you go about it?
The first stage is the point at which you select the documents that you will use to derive
the codes from. By the time you reach the point in your business research project where
you are planning out your method, you will have had a thorough engagement with the
academic literature. This may do one of two things: it could actually give you the
words for the codes that you need, or it might give you some ideas of the words that it
would be useful to look for in other sources – eg organisational documentation.
Question 6
What is the second stage in the content coding analysis process?
The second stage is the stage at which you look at the relationship between the words
that you are going to code, and consider whether it is possible for you to derive features
and dispositions for the codes that you have selected. You will need to derive these
before you move on to the next stage.
Question 7
What is the third stage in the content coding analysis process?
The third stage is the production of a content coding manual. This will form the basis of
your analysis, regardless of whether you choose to do this thematically or by annotating
the narrative data that you have gathered.
Question 8
What is the fourth stage of the content coding analysis process?
The fourth stage is the all-important pilot stage. This is the point at which you test
whether or not your coding system actually works. It is absolutely crucial to test it. In
producing trustworthy results you need to be able to draw the key themes accurately
from the data. These will be the basis for your research findings.
Question 9
What are the strengths of content coding analysis?
Content coding analysis allows you to generate a wealth of quantitative and qualitative
data which can be used to create rich insights and understandings. It also offers a clear
and replicable research strategy which, once coded, may be used by one researcher on
numerous occasions or more researchers simultaneously. Lastly, content coding
analysis allows you to undertake a robust piece of research on purely secondary data
and has the potential to be repeated as part of longitudinal studies.
Question 10
What are the limitations of content coding analysis?
Content coding analysis is completely dependent on the accuracy of your coding.
Where your coding is inaccurate or incomplete, the integrity of the research is
compromised and you may produce a skewed or a partial picture. It is also completely
dependent on the quality of the data being analysed, whether primary data or secondary
data. Where the data collection is skewed, for example, market research may ask
people loaded questions so that the answer respondents give supports the claims that
the researchers want to make, and again the integrity of the research is compromised.
Lastly, content analysis can be accused of being neither one thing nor the other. It does
not produce the detailed inferential statistics that can be produced from more formal
quantitative analyses, neither does it produce the same level of richness that is
generated from more qualitative means of analysis.