Outline how document analysis is used in psychology and explain why it is a useful research method
The field of psychology relies on various methods of examining data in order to draw conclusions from it. One such technique of evaluating data in psychology is document analysis. According to Corbin and Strauss (2008), document analysis is an analytical, qualitative method of research that enables the researcher to examine and interpret data with a view to gaining an understanding and deriving meaning out of it. In addition, it also enables the researcher to develop empirical knowledge (Rapley 2007). The analytical procedure involves searching, choosing, appraising, and synthesizing data as found in the existing literature. Once this has been done, document analysis is then applied thus yielding data in the form of quotations, excerpts, or even entire passages. The data so generated is then organised into key categories, case examples, and themes via content analysis (Labuschagne 2003).
Document analysis, when used in qualitative research, provides the researcher with certain benefits. First, it is an efficient method of analysis, in that the researcher takes less time to conduct research. Also, many documents are readily available in the public domain and no prior permission from the author is needed. Consequently, document analysis has become very popular with qualitative researchers. Document analysis is also a cost-effective method of research given that data is readily available. The fact that documents are not affected by the research process makes this method ‘non-reactive’ and ‘unobtrusive’ (Robson 2003).
On the other hand, since document analysis is qualitative analysis, it may at times fail to provide sufficient details needed to answer the research question (Glenn 2009) not to mention that at times, retrievability may be difficult. However, considering the cost-effectiveness, and efficiency of document analysis, its disadvantages evidently prevail over its disadvantages.
Corbin J & Strauss A (2008). Basics of qualitative research: Techniques and procedures for developing grounded theory (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Glenn AB (2009),’Document Analysis as a Qualitative Research Method’, Qualitative Research Journal, vol. 9 no. 2, pp. 27-40.
Labuschagne A (2003),’ Qualitative research: Airy fairy or fundamental?’, The Qualitative Report, vol. 8, no. 1, Article 7.
Rapley T (2007). Doing conversation, discourse and document analysis. London: Sage.
Robson C (2002) Real World Research: A Resource for Social Scientists and Practitioner-Researchers (2nd edn). Oxford: Open University Press.