Guide to surveys
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How to build a grid to analyse the content of a document

A grid to analyse the contents of a document will be useful when you cannot have access to an individual to speak with. Those documents can take the shape of written texts, video tapes or even sites on the internet. To do so, you must proceed to the identification of each usefull detail to be examined. Each one is called: indicator.

Procedure of application (the units of contents):

When you use a grid to analyses the content of a document, you should use a strict methodology. The elements you will note should not be the result of a global overlook. You have to cut your document into portions. Those are called "units of content". Depending on the complexity (and type) of the document, these units can be:

By cutting your document into portions, you are sure to be thorough. You will be able examined systematically every portion of your document. Such procedure can also enable you to analyse the logic of a document ! So, you might notice some indicators tend to be present one some "units of content" and not on others.

Let's say that you study the speeches of a politician. By examining every part of text (units of content), you will be able to know how he proceeds to communicate his point of view. Indeed, some types of arguments are at the beginning of the speech while others are situated toward the end. To simplify our explanation, we used the case of a text, but you can easily adapt the procedure for a video or any other kind of document.

Procedure of construction

A grid to analysis content is built exactly in the same way as a questionnaire. You take the list of your dimensions and indicators. Then, from indicators, you create the list of what should be identified in every text which you will examine.

The wording of the indicators, in order to include them in the grid, is not complicated. This grid is to be used by you and you should be able to use is in an efficient manner. But, you should be more carefull if someone else is to use your grid. That is why you can use the same wording of your indicators to build the grid. As long as it makes sens in an operational context. You will only have to worry about the precision of the wording to be sure to know what must be looked at.

As for the order of the indicators, you can put those related to global aspects first and the others after. This way of proceeding is usually more effective. But take care: make sure to preserve the grouping by dimensions, otherwise the risk of an error is higher as your grid grew longer. You might lost something along the way.

There are also directives to think about. But remember : every directive is not sent towards a respondant. It is an "aide-mémoire" for you, or those who will use the grid. The directives must say what is important for using the grid conveniently. Usually, directives are placed at the beginning of the grid. Here are some examples:

Until now, building a grid to analyses content seems a little more simple than building a questionnaire. The creation of a questionnaire implies many kinds of problems related to the wording of your questions. Here, nearly nothing of the sort. There is only to be precise and it is done. But, here is a last detail.

For each of the indicators, you have to identify which shape it can take in the document. It is somewhat the equivalent of the modalities of answers in a questionnaire. If you are able of know what your indicator will look like, it will be easier for you (or the user of the grid) to track down good information in the document.

For example: Let us imagine that you makes the analysis of a document related to commercials intended for children.

Have a good analysis of content !

Your webmaster: Frédéric D'Astous

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