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content analysis[′kän‚tent ə′nal·ə·səs]
A method of automatically assigning words that identify the content of information items or search requests in an information retrieval system.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
content analysisa research technique for the objective, quantitative and systematic study of communication content. It involves charting or counting the incidence, or coincidence, of particular items belonging to a set of (usually) predetermined categories. It has been used, for example, to explore political balance and bias in communication by counting the number of references or time allocation given to political groups. Critics of content analysis challenge the assumption that meanings can be studied quantitatively, arguing that meanings are conveyed by absence as well as presence, and by context rather than frequency. However, in its more sophisticated forms, content analysis can take account of these critiques, and can make a powerful contribution to sociological analysis (see also GLASGOW MEDIA GROUP).
Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000