Article Feature: Issues and Best Practices in Content Analysis

There’s a good overview article on content analysis in the latest Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly.

The piece, by Stephen Lacy, Brendan R. Watson, Daniel Riffe, and Jennette Lovejoy, is titled Issues and Best Practices in Content Analysis.


This article discusses three issues concerning content analysis method and ends with a list of best practices in conducting and reporting content analysis projects. Issues addressed include the use of search and databases for sampling, the differences between content analysis and algorithmic text analysis, and which reliability coefficients should be calculated and reported. The “Best Practices” section provides steps to produce reliable and valid content analysis data and the appropriate reporting of those steps so the project can be properly evaluated and replicated.

DiRT Directory

Don’t let the humanities in digital humanities mislead you. The term applies equally to the social sciences when it comes to digital research tools.  If your research needs have to do with capturing information off the web, cleaning that data, organizing it, contextualizing it….if you need to store data, interpret data, visualize or preserve data, publish or disseminate it, the DiRT Directory is for you.  What is DiRT? It’s a longstanding and well-regarded registry of open access research tools for scholars. 


Overseen by an international steering committee of scholar-volunteers, the Directory is conveniently, and with seeming effortlessness, organized by types of tools and methods.  However, this organization is the result of a complex taxonomy (Taxonomy of Digital Research Activities in the Humanities or TaDiRAH) that was developed by an “iterative process of community feedback” about the research life cycle composed of overarching goals and related methods of achieving those goals.

Some functions on the site work better than others but overall there are more thriving signs on the site than entropic ones.  There is a page devoted to development and recently the Alliance of Digital Humanities Organizations announced the DiRT Directory has been “adopted as the newest centerNet Initiative.”

If you are so inclined, DiRT Directory encourages contributions from its user community such as adding or reviewing new tools.

Journal Spotlight: Journal of Survey Statistics and Methodology

3.coverThe Journal of Survey Statistics and Methodology is not brand new but it’s new enough to perhaps not be in everyone’s radar. Sponsored by the American Association of Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) and the American Statistical Association (ASA), the quarterly began in 2013 (only two issues in the startup year). Its stated objective is “to publish cutting edge scholarly articles on statistical and methodological issues for sample surveys, censuses, administrative record systems, and other related data….to be the flagship journal for research on survey statistics and methodology” with topics of interest including “survey sample design, statistical inference, nonresponse, measurement error, the effects of modes of data collection, paradata and responsive survey design, combining data from multiple sources, record linkage, disclosure limitation, and other issues in survey statistics and methodology.”

Editors Joseph Sedransk and Roger Tourangeau point out “of course, there are already journals devoted mainly to survey topics, such as the Journal of Official Statistics and Survey Methodology. However, valuable as these journals are, both are sponsored by government agencies. We believed that the flagship journal for our discipline should have the backing of the largest, most prestigious professional organizations for survey researchers [AAPOR and ASA]  (from A Statement from the Editors).

What makes the journal  multidisciplinary is the broad topical areas of the surveys under the microscope, from business and economics to the environment and health sciences. Here is a sampling of articles from the JSSAM’s first two years:

Item Sum: A New Technique for Asking Quantitative Sensitive Questions
Representative Surveys in Insecure Environments: A Case Study of Mogadishu, Somalia
Bridging Psychometrics and Survey Methodology: Can Mixed Rasch Models Identify Socially Desirable Reporting Behavior?
Real-World Eye-Tracking in Face-to-Face and Web Modes
Comparison of Three Modes for a Crime Victimization Survey
Mobile Web Survey Design: Scrolling versus Paging, SMS versus E-mail Invitations
Distractions: The Incidence and Consequences of Interruptions for Survey Respondents
Language Ability and Motivation Among Foreigners in Survey Responding

Communication researchers interested in this journal probably also keep an eye on Communications Methods and Measures.  All things considered, JSSAM looks like a seriously good read for survey method geeks!