The Inductive Content Analysis Research Method

D. Lee Gilbertson, Saint Cloud State University

This paper introduces the inductive content analysis research method. Many content analyses in criminology use theory to govern the process of conceptualization and operationalization. They generally seek to quantify extracted data and perform various statistical analyses. Recovery of qualitative data can be accomplished using open coding and a filing system. However, this often maintains a deductive reasoning approach. Drawing from a technique used by military intelligence analysts, this paper develops an inductive approach for the extrusion and interpretation of qualitative in formation. Units of analysis, criteria of selection and the use of theory will be discussed. An example will be reviewed (i.e., an inductive content analysis of twentieth century texts on U.S. gangs) to demonstrate use of this research method.

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Updated 05/20/2006