Qualitative Content Analysis (Theorized by Mayring)

While doing qualitative content analysis, researchers check different feedback - words, ideas, concepts used by the target groups, research participants, and look for the meaning behind that feedback. By analyzing the relationship between the feedbacks, they find trends that let them draw a conclusion. It is the interpretation process of the meaning behind the speech, newspaper article, TV show, etc. There are two approaches to content analysis:

  1. Manifest content analysis is an analysis of the data from the surface. This data is easily available to the researchers. In this case, they don’t focus on identifying the deeper meaning behind the “text.” It generally is used if the data can provide enough information with just a surface-level interpretation.
  2. Latent content analysis tries to get deeper insights into the text. In other words, it doesn’t just analyze the text from the surface but also looks for the possible hidden meaning within the text. This kind of analysis requires high professionalism from the researcher.

Philipp Mayring is one of the leading specialists in qualitative content analysis, and in his publications, he explains his theories and views on it. In “Qualitative Content Analysis. Forum Qualitative Social Research,” (Mayring 2000, Mayring 2010 version is also available under the name Qualitative Content Analysis: Basics and Techniques with some revisions), Mayring explains the basic ideas of content analysis as follows:

• Fitting the material into a model of communication: It should be determined on what part of the communication inferences shall be made, to aspects of the communicator (his experiences, opinions feelings), to the situation of text production, to the socio-cultural background, to the text itself or to the effect of the message.

• Rules of analysis: The material is to be analyzed step by step, following rules of procedure, devising the material into content analytical units.

• Categories in the center of analysis: The aspects of text interpretation, following the research questions, are put into categories, which were carefully founded and revised within the analysis process (feedback loops).

• Criteria of reliability and validity: The procedure has the pretension to be intersubjectively comprehensible, compares the results with other studies in the sense of triangulation, and carries out checks for reliability. For estimating the inter-coder reliability, we use qualitative content analysis (contrary to quantitative content analysis) only trained members of the project team and reduce the standard of coder agreement (COHENS Kappa over .7 would be sufficient).

*Mayring, Philipp (2000, “Qualitative Content Analysis. Forum Qualitative Social Research,” paragraph 3)

 In “Qualitative Content Analysis: Theoretical Foundation, Basic Procedures and Software Solution” (Mayring 2014), he states that there are seven steps in the research process that needs qualitative content analysis. They are:

  1. Defining the research question
  2. Linking research question to theory
  3. Definition of the research design
  4. Defining the sampling strategy
  5. Data collection methods 
  6. Processing of the study, presentation of results in respect to the research question
  7. Discussion in respect to quality criteria