Textual analysis is a broad term for different research methods used to understand and interpret a text. A text in academic writing is every written thing which conveys the meaning of it to the reader. All kinds of information about a subject can be obtained from its text. As the researcher, by doing the analysis of the text, you can glean information about its literal meaning, subtext, symbolism, and values that it reveals.
However, do you know what approaches are used to perform a textual analysis? Most probably not, because if you knew, you would not be here reading this article. In today’s article, we will describe the approaches used in analysing a text and analysing it to reveal hidden themes. Before that, let’s define this analysis.
What does it mean by textual analysis?
Textual analysis is a technique used by qualitative researchers mostly to study and understand different texts. This technique includes exploring the text’s language, symbols, and pictures that it shows about the text. It helps the researcher understand how people communicate with each other and express their ideologies and thoughts about something. Most of the time, this analysis of the interview transcripts or any other academic text reveals much more information about the respondents and the research problem.
What are the approaches to textual analysis?
After reading the information above, you know what this analysis is. However, you still do not have an idea about how to carry out this analysis or what are the approaches to this analysis. Here, we will now discuss the approaches to textual analysis. A brief description of the top approaches is as follows:
1. Rhetorical criticism
The first approach to this analysis is known as rhetorical criticism. Using this approach, you analyse the words, phrases, and gestures present in the text. These are the symbolic artefacts that people use to communicate ideas and thoughts about a topic. The process of rhetorical criticism consists of five steps, which are as follows:
- Understanding the purpose of the message
- Understanding the historical, cultural, and social context of the text
- Using it to evaluate society
- Using it to build theories about society
- Understanding how persuasive the text is
2. Content analysis
Content analysis is the second approach to textual analysis. This approach is used to identify the messages occurring in the texts and mention those messages in the analysis. This approach involves coding the data and then studying those codes to unearth the hidden themes and patterns. Due to the involvement of coding, this method is not generally preferred by researchers for textual analysis of the data. However, if you still want to do this analysis using this method, do not forget to take the masters dissertation help.
3. Thematic analysis
Thematic analysis is another approach to analysing a text. This approach is mainly focused on finding the patterns and themes hidden in the text. For this purpose, the researcher takes the qualitative data and analyse it. After a careful analysis, he then reports the recorded patterns and themes in the best manner. This analysis involves five major steps, which are as follows:
- Familiarise yourself with the text
- Assign initial codes to the data
- Search for patterns and themes in the data based on your codes
- Review the themes
- Name the themes and write them in the form of a report
4. Discourse analysis
The fourth and last approach to textual analysis is discourse analysis. This analysis is a method of analysing the structure of a text longer than one sentence. Discourse is a fancy word for speech, and it is why this method is mostly used in media studies where journalists analyse the long speeches of politicians. When analysing text using this approach, the researcher takes both linguistic context and sociolinguistic context into consideration.
Where is textual analysis helpful?
With the knowledge of the approaches, you can now evaluate different texts. But there are some fields in which this analysis is very useful. Do you know what those fields are? A brief description of those is as follows:
- The textual analysis technique is mostly used in cultural and media studies. In these fields, the researcher considers audio and videos as text and analyse them.
- It is also used in the field of social science. Using this technique, the researcher gets to know about social relations. In this field, the researcher considers interview and observational data as the text.
- Lastly, this analysis is helpful in the field of literary studies.
To sum up, textual analysis involves different approaches to studying a text and revealing the hidden themes and patterns in it. In this guidepost, we have discussed the top 4 approaches to this analysis. As the researcher, you must go through all the approaches discussed above and do this analysis accordingly.