Document analysis is one of the interpretative procedures. It is a systematic approach to qualify both electronic and non-electronic media [1]. Sources are searched for and selected according to the research question, which should include all sources suitable for the research question. These sources are then evaluated again for their significance. Afterwards, linguistic and content analysis begins. The method comes from the social sciences, where this method is also applied [compare 3]. It is suitable to collect data to support the addressed field and to answer corresponding questions [2]. Document Analysis is used in Grounded Theory [1].


The goal of such an analysis is to filter out and summarize content from the sources under previously defined criteria [2]. The question defines what is searched for in the materials [2, 3].


In a first pass, the locations in the material where the searched topic is addressed are marked [1]. Then the contents are analyzed and summarized. These two steps are also called coding. Finally, the contents are discussed in relation to the question [1].

Advantages are [1]:

  • Efficient method
  • Availability
  • Cost-effectiveness
  • Lack of obtrusiveness and reactivity
  • Stability
  • Exactness
  • Coverage

Disadvantages are [1]:

  • Insufficient detail
  • Low revivability
  • Biased selectivity


Core Literature

  • [1] Bowen, G. A. (2009). Document Analysis as a Qualitative Research Method. Qualitative Research Journal9(2), 27.
  • [2] Owen, G. T. (2014). Qualitative Methods in Higher Education Policy Analysis: Using Interviews and Document Analysis. The Qualitative Report19(26), 1.

Further Literature

  • [3] Mühlich, F. (2008) In: Übergewicht als Politikum? VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften.

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