Pub. date: 2011 | Online Pub. Date: October 04, 2011 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412994163 | Print ISBN: 9781412959636 | Online ISBN: 9781412994163| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Textual data refer to systematically collected material consisting of written, printed, or electronically published words, typically either purposefully written or transcribed from speech. Text collected for use as data typically reflects a conscious research purpose, motivated by a design aimed at yielding insight on some feature of the social or political world. This entry outlines the purpose, issues, and challenges involved in selecting, preparing, and analyzing textual data. The process of textual data analysis follows several main steps. First, a text and its author are identified that will directly inform the research question at hand, for instance, legislative speeches if one is interested in lawmakers' policy agenda. Second, this text must be processed, typically involving numerous decisions about how to convert, store, edit, and combine texts. Next, the processed text is analyzed, a step that may take any of a wide variety of forms. Humans may read the text to ...