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What is Content Analysis – Steps & Examples

Published by at August 16th, 2021 , Revised On August 29, 2023

“The content analysis identifies specific words, patterns, concepts, themes, phrases, characters, or sentences within the recorded communication content.”

To conduct content analysis, you need to gather data from multiple sources; it can be anything or any form of data, including text, audio, or videos.

Depending on the requirements of your analysis, you may have to use a primary or secondary form of data, including:

  • Videos
  • Transcripts
  • Images
  • Newspaper
  • Books
  • Literature
  • Biographies
  • Documents
  • Oral statements/conversations
  • Text books
  • Encyclopedia
  • Newspapers
  • Periodicals
  • Social media posts
  • Articles

The Purpose of Content Analysis

There are so many objectives of content analysis. Some fundamental objectives are given below.

  • To simplify the content.
  • To get a clear, in-depth meaning of the language.
  • To identify the uses of language.
  • To know the impact of language on society.
  • To find out the association of the language with cultures, interpersonal relationships, and communication.
  • To gain an in-depth understanding of the concept.
  • To find out the context, behaviour, and response of the speaker.
  • To analyse the trends and association between the text and multimedia.

When to Use Content Analysis? 

There are many uses of the content analysis; some of them are listed below:

The content analysis is used.

  • To represent the content precisely, breaking it into short form.
  • To describe the characteristics of the content.
  • To support an argument.
  • It is used in many walks of life, including marketing, media, literature, etc.
  • It is used for extracting essential information from a large amount of data.

Types of Content Analysis

Content analysis is a broad concept, and it has various types depending on various fields. However, people from all walks of life use it at their convenience. Some of the popular methods are given below:

Sr. no Types Definition Example
1 Relational Analysis It helps to understand the association between concepts in humans. What other words are used next to the word effects or it’s synonyms such as impact, influence is used in the communication?

What kind of meaning is produced by this group of words?

2 Unobtrusive Research It’s a method of studying social behaviour without collecting data directly from the subject group Durkheim’s analysis of suicide
3 Conceptual analysis It analyses the existence and frequency of concepts in human communication. Smoking can have adverse effects on your health.

Here you can find out how many times the word effects or its synonyms such as impact, influence communication.

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Advantages and Disadvantages of Content Analysis


Content analysis has so many benefits, which are given below.

Content analysis:

  • Offers both qualitative and quantitative analysis of the communication.
  • Provides an in-depth understanding of the content by making it precise.
  • Enables us to understand the context and perception of the speaker.
  • Provides insight into complex models of human thoughts and language use.
  • Provides historical/cultural insight.
  • It can be applied at any given time, place, and people.
  • It helps to learn any language, its origin, and association with society and culture


There are also some disadvantages of using the method of content analysis which are given below:

Content analysis:

    • is very time-consuming.
    • Cannot interpret a large amount of data accurately and is subjected to increased error.
    • Cannot be computerised easily.
    • Can reduce the content by eliminating informative text.Also Read: A Quick Guide to Descriptive Research

      How to Conduct a Content Analysis?

      If you want to conduct the content analysis, so here are some steps that you have to follow for that purpose. Those steps are given below.

      Develop a Research Question and Select the Content

      It’s essential to have a research question to proceed with your study.  After selecting your research question, you need to find out the relevant resources to analyse.

      Example: If you want to find out the impact of plagiarism on the credibility of the authors. You can examine the relevant materials available on the topic from the internet, newspapers, and books published during the past 5-10 years.

      Could you read it Thoroughly?

      At this point, you have to read the content thoroughly until you understand it. 


      It would help if you broke the text into smaller portions for clear interpretation. In short, you have to create categories or smaller text from a large amount of given data.

      The unit of analysis is the basic unit of text to be classified. It can be a word, phrase, a theme, a plot, a newspaper article.

      Code the Content

      It takes a long to go through the textual data. Coding is a way of tagging the data and organising it into a sequence of symbols, numbers, and letters to highlight the relevant points. At this point, you have to draw meanings from those condensed parts. You have to understand the meaning and context of the text and the speaker clearly. 

      Analyse and Interpret the Data

      You can use statistical analysis to analyse the data. It is a method of collecting, analysing, and interpreting ample data to discover underlying patterns and details. Statistics are used in every field to make better decisions. It would help if you aimed to retain the meaning of the content while making it precise.

      All the categories should also be relevant and according to the need of the material. There should not be any unnecessary stuffing over here. 

Frequently Asked Questions

To perform content analysis:

  1. Define research objectives.
  2. Select a representative sample.
  3. Develop coding categories.
  4. Analyze content systematically.
  5. Apply coding to data.
  6. Interpret results to draw insights about themes, patterns, and meanings.

About Alvin Nicolas

Avatar for Alvin NicolasNicolas has a master's degree in literature and a PhD degree in statistics. He is a content manager at ResearchProspect. He loves to write, cook and run. Nicolas is passionate about helping students at all levels.