Content Analysis: A Flexible Methodology

Content analysis is a highly flexible research method that has been widely used in library and information science (LIS) studies with varying research goals and objectives. The research method is applied in qualitative, quantitative, and sometimes mixed modes of research frameworks and employs a wide range of analytical techniques to generate findings and put them into context. This article characterizes content analysis as a systematic, rigorous approach to analyzing documents obtained or generated in the course of research. It briefly describes the steps involved in content analysis, differentiates between quantitative and qualitative content analysis, and shows that content analysis serves the purposes of both quantitative research and qualitative research. The authors draw on selected LIS studies that have used content analysis to illustrate the concepts addressed in the article. The article also serves as a gateway to methodological books and articles that provide more detail about aspects of content analysis discussed only briefly in the article.