Every qualitative researcher conducts document analysis for textual assessment and evaluation. The document analysis strategy enables researchers to assess the reliability of the texts. It helps determine the aims and objectives of the documents. Furthermore, it also helps researchers find out whether the information is useful or not. This article will tell you everything you need to know about document analysis.
What is document analysis?
Document analysis is a qualitative research method common in social sciences and humanities. Researchers evaluate digital and manual documents to analyse the information they contain. Researchers examine the documents and interpret them to add context and seek relevance to their research. Document analysis can alternatively be viewed as discourse analysis. It encompasses treating the documents as discourses that have many meanings.
According to the firm providing PhD dissertation writing services, document analysis is a method of examining relevant documentation to find answers to the proposed research questions. It involves a structured method for evaluating documents. Like other qualitative research methodologies, document analysis necessitates periodic inspection and evaluation. The assessment aims to extract meanings and relevant evidence for the topic under investigation. Researchers can do document analysis as part of a broader qualitative or mixed methodologies. Researchers use this method frequently to corroborate findings from other sources. The sources include interviews, survey transcripts, archival documents, and governmental records.Researchers triangulate the documents to confirm or reject the results across various texts. This strategy helps to avoid bias.
What are the three types of documents in document analysis?
There are three types of primary documents.
Public records consist of official records of governmental or non-governmental organisations. The public records are publicly accessible, and researchers can use them for research. They contain census reports, handbooks, policy materials, court records, economic, and political data, annual reports, and strategic plans. Public records also include archival documents, especially those which contain documents relevant to the history of a particular region or a country.
Personal documents include those documents that contain first-hand experiences of people. They include journals, diaries, scrapbooks, social media posts, reflections, blog entries, and newspapers. An example of a personal document is Anne Frank’s Diary, which documented her personal experiences during the Holocaust.
Physical material encompasses physical objects such as artefacts and posters.
What is the purpose of document analysis?
Document analysis is important as it enables the researchers to extract meaning from their sources. Researchers can choose the most credible documents for their research. They usually use code sand themes to classify the documents into different categories. Researchers categorise and classify qualitative data from documents. Also, they can integrate document analysis with the other sorts of inquiry after arranging the data. Document analysis enables researchers to gain deep insights into a phenomenon or a topic under investigation. It serves to achieve the following aims and objectives:
- Providing a solid background to the research
- Introducing potential research questions
- Potential research areas that researchers can explore and analyse
- Generating deep insights about a particular topic
- Highlighting an understudied issue
- A tool for corroborating the findings from multiple sources
- Adds credibility to the research through triangulation
- Triangulation of documents helps the researchers compare and contrast more than two sources. It helps them ascertain similarities and differences between them
- Helping the researcher establish credibility of the research
- Helping reduce biasness in the research
- Researchers can also use a mixed-method approach. Researchers combine quantitative and qualitative data to synergise information and generate meaningful insights.
How can you do document analysis?
Researchers can take the following steps for document analysis:
The first step in the analysis of documents is the planning phase. The planning phase includes the following stages:
- Make a list of texts that researchers want to examine according to their genre, such as fictional, non-fictional, magazine articles, journal articles, newspapers, etc.
- Define and narrow down the subject area such as politics, history, literature and marketing
- Assess how the researcher will gain access to the texts
- What will be the inclusion and exclusion criteria for the texts?
- Define the parameters such as publication dates and types
- Determination of how the researcher will interpret and evaluate the data if it is in different languages
- What will be the sample size of documents? How many documents does the researcher intend to analyse?
- Pre-evaluation of research bias and formulation of strategies to curtail the biasness
- Develop techniques to maintain credibility and accuracy during the evaluation process
- In the planning phase, the researcher should be aware of ethical considerations regarding confidential documents.
- Collection of those texts which are relevant to the research
- Formulate a strategy for organising and classifying documents
- Researchers should make copies of the original documents for annotation
- Assess the credibility and reliability of the documents
- Evaluate the aims and objectives of the documents
- Try to understand the fundamental structure, tone and style of the language used in documents.
- Inquire about the origins of the text, reasons for producing them, data of production, and kind of data
The second phase entails exploring the documents to find answers relevant to the research questions. There are two techniques to explore the contents of the documents.
The interview technique to analyse the documents pertains to treating texts as actual respondents. The researcher inquires from the text about questions relevant to the current research.
The content analysis phase consists of recognising repetitions in the text. The researcher defines certain keywords and phrases that will help navigate the text. After defining those keywords and phrases, the researcher has a clear idea of what he or she is looking for. The researcher then embarks on extracting relevant information from the texts. Furthermore, it entails categorising the information according to its types. The researcher seeks to identify patterns and repetitions in the text. It enables the researcher to find relevant answers to the research questions.
Document analysis is a helpful tool in strengthening and establishing the credibility of the research. Researchers often use this technique as a primary data collection strategy for various subjects. Researchers can also use analysis of documents to supplement and support the primary data acquired through quantitative methodologies.