Content analysis is a significant research method used in various scientific disciplines, including social sciences, communication science, psychology and linguistics. It enables systematic and objective analysis of textual, visual or auditory content. The method was first developed in the 20th century and has since evolved into a versatile tool that helps researchers gain deeper insights from qualitative and quantitative data.

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Figure 1: Content, Source: from Isi Dixon at Pixabay



The objective of content analysis is to extract and interpret information from various types of content. This can involve scrutinizing newspaper articles to comprehend the political messages they convey, or analyzing social media posts to identify trends and opinions. This method enables researchers to uncover patterns, themes, trends, and other relevant aspects in the content they are studying.


Performing a content analysis requires going through multiple stages:

  1. Determining the research questions: first, clear and precise research questions must be formulated to guide the analysis. These questions determine the scope and depth of the study.

  2. Sample and content selection: Researchers select a sample of content relevant to their research questions. This may be a random selection or may include targeted sources and media.

  3. Developing coding rules: Before analysis begins, coding rules must be established. These rules define how certain aspects of the content will be captured and categorized to ensure a consistent and reliable analysis (more see Coding).

  4. Conducting the analysis: the content is now examined and categorized according to the previously established coding rules. Depending on the scope of the study, the analysis can be performed manually or with the help of software.

  5. Interpretation of results: Once the analysis is complete, the results are interpreted to find answers to the research questions. This involves drawing relationships, patterns, and conclusions from the data.

  6. Documentation and reporting: It is important to carefully document the entire process and present the results in a clear report. This will ensure the traceability and verifiability of the study.



  1. Mayring, Philipp. (2015). Qualitative Inhaltsanalyse: Grundlagen und Techniken (12. Aufl.). Weinheim: Beltz.

  2. Krippendorff, Klaus. (2018). Content Analysis: An Introduction to Its Methodology (4th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

  3. Neuendorf, Kimberly A. (2017). The Content Analysis Guidebook. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

  4. Weber, Robert P. (1990). Basic Content Analysis (2nd ed.). Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications.

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