Document Analysis THE WRITTEN RECORD ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES
- Slides: 23
Document Analysis THE WRITTEN RECORD ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES ANALYSIS
The Written Record Includes documents, reports, statistics, manuscripts, and other written, oral, or visual materials The most commonly used data source in political science Can be divided into the episodic record and the running record
The Written Record Episodic records: Produced and preserved in a more casual, personal, and accidental manner by individuals Includes personal diaries, correspondence, brochures, pamphlets, and other materials
The Written Record Running record: More likely to be produced by organizations than by individuals Carefully stored and easily accessed; available for long periods of time Includes government, organization, or statistical records
The Written Record Three advantages of the running record over the episodic record: Cost, in both time and money Accessibility of records—locating episodic records can be quite time consuming Covers a more extensive period of time Three disadvantages of using the running record: Record-keeping organizations decide how to keep records Sometimes difficult for researchers to identify organizations’ record-keeping practices Raw data are not always available
The Written Record Advantages of the written record over other methods: Allows access to subjects who are difficult or impossible to research through direct, personal contact Raw data are usually nonreactive Records are often available for analysis over time Can use a larger sample size than with interviews or direct observation Less expensive because record-keeping costs are borne by record keepers
The Written Record Disadvantages of the written record: Selective survival: record keepers may not preserve all materials Selectively save (or detroy) embarrassing, controversial, or problematic records Large gaps exist in many archives Written record content may be biased through incomplete, selectively preserved, inaccurate, or falsified records Some written records are unavailable to researchers: classified, sealed, or stored in such a way that they are difficult to use Records may lack a standard format
Analysis Researchers use the written record as evidence in different ways: Extract excerpts, quotations, or examples from the written record to support an observation or relationship Measure the number of times content appears in a document: a content analysis
Analysis Content analysis procedures: Select materials germane to the research subject (the sampling frame) and then sample the material to be analyzed from that sampling frame Define the categories of content that are going to be measured: topics of interest within the content Choose the recording unit: how to divide the content into standard units for analysis (a single word, paragraph, page, etc. ) Decide on the numeric values that will be used to code each category in each recording unit
QUANTITATIVE AND QUALITATIVE ANALYSIS OBSERVATION FIELD STUDIES PHYSICAL TRACES ETHICAL CONCERNS
Quantitative & Qualitative Analysis There are two general approaches to data analysis: Quantitative analysis: Qualitative analysis: Involves numeric manipulation through the use of statistical analysis Relies on using quotations, comments, or anecdotes to provide evidence and support for arguments Both approaches are often used in a complementary way within a study.
Observation Every part of a research design involves making choices and tradeoffs—no method is perfect. The choice of data collection method depends on the Validity of the measurements that a particular method will permit Effect of the data collection itself on the phenomena being measured Population covered by a data collection method Resources and the cost of a method Public availability of data Ethical implications
Observation involves four methodological choices: 1. 2. 3. 4. Direct or indirect Participant or nonparticipant Overt or covert Structured or unstructured
Observation Direct observation: Observing either the behavior itself Indirect observation: Observing some physical trace of the behavior Both rely on first-hand examination of activities, behavior, or events.
Observation Participant Actively engaged in the behavior under observation Nonparticipant Observing the behavior without participating
Observation Overt Those being observed know they are being observed Covert Those being observed do not know they are being observed
Observation Structured Observation follows a well planned path Unstructured Observation does not follow a well planned path
Observation Most observation studies conducted by political scientists involve direct observation. Observation in political science is more likely to occur in a field study than in a laboratory.
Field Studies A field study is in a natural setting. Field studies hold many advantages over other methods: People behave as they would ordinarily, unlike in a lab. Field studies allow people to be observed for lengthy periods of time so that interaction and changes in behavior may be studied. Field studies offer a degree of accuracy or completeness impossible with documents or surveys.
Field Studies But there are disadvantages, as well: A lab setting allows control over the environment, including a more rigorous experimental design. Observation may be easier and more convenient to record and preserve.
Field Studies Recording data is a particularly important disadvantage of the field study, but it can be managed. An essential aspect is note taking, because the researcher is relying on remembering events accurately for data: Mental notes must be written down as soon and as completely as possible to avoid losing data.
Physical Traces Indirect observation through erosion and accretion Erosion measures: Created by selective wear on some material Accretion measures: Created by the deposition and accumulation of materials Erosion and accretion measures may be biased—certain traces are more likely to survive because the materials are more durable.
Ethical Concerns Ethical concerns arise primarily when there is a potential for harm to the observed: Negative repercussions from associating with the researcher because of the researcher’s sponsors, nationality, or outsider status Invasion of privacy Stress during the research interaction Disclosure of behavior or information to the researcher resulting in harm to the observed during or after the study