Back in April 2013, a post in RDR talked about the “daunting job of conducting a content analysis that reveals how people think [the “stream of consciousness”] while at the same time Criminal-Case-Crime-Scene-Living-Room-Case-5answers the research question and takes the sponsoring client to the next step.” The article outlines the basic steps in a content analysis, including the analysis and interpretation phases of the process. Making interpretations from a content analysis are tricky things, esp., when conducting a “primary content analysis” when the content being analyzed is derived from non-research-related, pre-existing sources such as newspapers, blog posts, Hollywood films, YouTube videos, television broadcasts, and the like. The issue here is the “trap” content analysts can fall into by (a) thinking there are causal relationships in the data when there are not, and/or (b) trying to build a story in the shape of their interpretations when the story (based on the data) has little merit. In this way, an overabundance of subjectivity can creep into the qualitative content analysis method.

These traps, related to causality and storytelling, are fairly easy to fall into unless a systematic and conscientious approach is taken in the analysis and interpretation phases. In particular, Read Full Text

In 2013, Research Design Review posted five articles that directly speak to common design considerations in quantitative and qualitative research that address theStone bridge basic goal of understanding how people think.  These common concerns, and the articles where they are discussed, include: using effective content analysis procedures to reveal underlying subjective connections for each respondent/participant (“Content Analysis & Navigating the Stream of Consciousness”); the importance of design approaches that target people’s stories (“‘Tell Me What Happened’ & Other Stories”); research designs that incorporate good listening techniques with appropriate, well-constructed questions (“Listening: A Lesson from New Coke”); utilizing qualitative research to examine the thinking that helps explain quantitative data (“Looking Under the Hood: What Survey Researchers Can Learn from Deceptive Product Reviews”); and the role of Daniel Kahneman’s System 1 (intuitive) and System 2 (cognitive) thinking framework in considering behavior in the marketplace (“Fast & Slow Thinking in Research Design”).

These five articles have been compiled into one pdf document that can be accessed here.  Anyone who has read this blog since its inception in 2009 knows that a recurring theme revolves around research design issues that impact how well (or not) researchers gain an understanding of how people think.  There is no reason to believe that the tradition won’t continue in 2014.

An article posted on Research Design Review back in 2010 discussed the work of William James and, specifically, his concept that consciousness “flows” like a river or stream.  The article goes on to say that James’ “stream of consciousness” is relevant to researcFlowing-streamhers of every stripe because we all share in the goal of designing research “to understand the subjective links within each individual.”  Yet these subjective links come at a price, not the least of which is the “messiness” of the analysis as we work towards identifying these links and finding meaning that addresses our objectives.

Whether it is the verbatim comments from survey respondents to open-end questions or the transcripts from focus group discussions or ethnographic interviews, the researcher is faced with the daunting job of conducting a content analysis that reveals how people think while at the same time answers the research Read Full Text

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