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What constitutes a qualitative content analysis according to Mayring

A qualitative content analysis is used to evaluate data that can come from various sources. The interviews used in each case can come from newspaper articles, TV reports or texts by various authors. The qualitative content analysis is used to understand human behavior. The explanation of the behavior is not the focus. The technique once chosen for the procedure must be retained.

Aim of the qualitative content analysis according to Mayring

Philipp Mayring outlined five steps how data collected with a qualitative test can be evaluated and thus a research question can be answered.

The Aim of the qualitative content analysis is to use fewer texts in order to gain new theoretical knowledge in the area of ​​your research question.

It is particularly important that your research question is phrased as precisely as possible, as this will guide you through the analysis.

A possible research question for your qualitative content analysis could be as follows:

What does the future of the printed newspaper look like in the face of new media?

Approach of qualitative content analysis

1. Determination of the material
In order to be able to answer a research question, you first have to get an overview of the material. When researching, it is helpful to divide the material into categories right at the beginning, e.g .:
  • Newspaper articles
  • Magazine articles
  • Radio broadcasts
  • TV reports
  • Research reports
2. Determination of the direction of analysis
You must further decide who or what is the goal of your analysis. In your analysis you can examine such directions:
  • the text
  • the text producer
  • the group
  • the object area
3. Determination of analysis techniques
There are 3 basic forms of qualitative content analysis. You can choose between the following techniques:
  • In the summary content analysis the examined material is reduced to a practical short text.
  • In the Explicit content analysis Additional material is used when there are unclear parts of the text to explain the knowledge gaps.
  • In the structuring content analysis material is evaluated according to defined criteria.
4. Definition of the unit of analysis
Here you specify which units of measurement of the material are to be made the analysis object. The coding unit is the smallest text unit to be evaluated. At the same time, you define these analysis units as elements with which you can create categories.

5. Interpretation of the results
The interpretation of your results consists in that you precisely define the categories created. You should also determine which parts of the texts fall into which categories.

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Quality criteria of the qualitative content analysis

In order for the quality criteria to be met, the qualitative content analysis must be valid and reliable. This makes the content analysis comprehensible. Therefore, you have to be careful not to look for the sources that match the opinion you have already taken, but always keep the research question in focus when researching. Otherwise the profit for scientific knowledge is jeopardized. This also distinguishes the qualitative from the quantitative content analysis, in which a larger amount of material is available.

Your qualitative content analysis should meet the quality criteria of qualitative research:

transparency: Your research should be transparent and comprehensible for outside parties.

Intersubjectivity: You should reflect on and discuss the subjectively obtained data.

Range: You can repeat a similar process and get similar results.

Advantages and disadvantages of qualitative content analysis

You are not dependent on the cooperation of the participants.
This is a transparent method, you should only proceed according to 5 clear steps.
The research material is available regardless of time.
The research can be repeated and the procedure can be followed because this method is very flexible.

The texts cannot be examined in depth, but only on the basis of some of the features you have selected.
The quality of the analysis depends on the analyzed content and its relevance.
It's too complicated to create a completely objective coding guide and system of categories.

Checklist: This is to be considered at the end

✔️ You are familiar with the relevant specialist literature.
✔️ Your research question is clearly formulated and defined.
✔️ The choice of material is relevant to your research.
✔️ You justified the direction of the analysis.
✔️ Your category system is clear and objective.
✔️ 3 quality criteria of your research are met.

frequently asked Questions

Especially at the beginning it is not easy to formulate the research question precisely. It is also possible to add further sub-questions, even if this results in a total of three or more questions. The question must be established before the analysis begins. In addition, the current state of research must be taken into account when asking the question. The qualitative content analysis builds on these findings.
Qualitative content analysis is a major challenge for the student. But it is also an opportunity to demonstrate the ability to work scientifically and, thanks to a systematic approach, to make a contribution to research. In the end, the student should check critically whether he has worked validly and reliably in each section. In addition, the selectivity of the categories must be clearly recognizable. Are the selected text passages really suitable to allow an interpretation, is also a question that must be answered without a doubt.
All materials used must:
  • Relevant
  • Authentic
  • Representative
  • Credible
be. However, the material must also be suitable to answer the research question. In addition, the student must make sure that the common thread in the work does not break. Because whoever answers less relevant questions extensively with extensively researched sources risks deducting points. If, after carefully reviewing the documents, the student can affirm that the sources are suitable, the next step begins.