Theory, Method, and Practice in Computer Content Analysis

Theory, Method, and Practice in Computer Content Analysis

Theory, Method, and Practice in Computer Content Analysis

Theory, Method, and Practice in Computer Content Analysis


In the new digital era, using computers to analyze the masses of textual primary material now available to researchers is an imperative rather than an interesting topic. Yet computer content analysis is a complex method, making unique theoretical, methodological, and practical demands upon the researcher. This volume provides, from scholars in a variety of disciplines, examples of solutions to tricky problems in the analysis of textual material via computer, showing researchers the manners in which respected scholars have overcome the complexities and theoretical concerns which arise in teaching computers to analyze textual material.


In recent years, computer content analysis has undergone something of a renaissance. In most years, there is a session at the annual meeting of the International Communication Association dealing with computer content analysis and related issues; in the past, that session sometimes had fewer attendees than presenters. Today, the group is thriving, and interest in computer content analysis seems to be growing.

Perhaps the motive force behind the increasing interest in computer content analysis is the advance in the computational power available to researchers. Perhaps the new methods of analysis—neural network techniques and the like—are the cause. But for whatever reason, computer content analysis is once again a method that is gaining adherents.

This book is the outgrowth of the meetings, formal and informal, of members of ICA and the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) who have met and discussed the subject for almost a decade. David Fan, George Barnett, Mark Miller, Rod Hart, and Bill Evans all played a significant role in the genesis of this book. The editor thanks them sincerely. He would also like to thank the authors of the chapters of this book for their patience during the completion of this project. And he would like to thank his wife for her patience and support.

Computer content analysis, as this book suggests, seems poised to break out into the larger world of social science research. It is the hope of the authors of this book that the theories, methods, and practices suggested here will prove useful to the reader.

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