Volume 37 - Article 42 | Pages 1351–1382 Author has provided data and code for replicating results

A mixed-methods framework for analyzing text data: Integrating computational techniques with qualitative methods in demography

By Parijat Chakrabarti, Margaret Frye

Print this page  Facebook  Twitter


Date received:06 Jun 2017
Date published:02 Nov 2017
Word count:8062
Keywords:automated text analysis, Malawi, mixed methods, qualitative data, qualitative methods
Additional files:readme.37-42 (text file, 878 Byte)
 demographic-research.37-42 (zip file, 36 MB)


Background: Automated text analysis is widely used across the social sciences, yet the application of these methods has largely proceeded independently of qualitative analysis.

Objective: This paper explores the advantages of applying automated text analysis to augment traditional qualitative methods in demography. Computational text analysis does not replace close reading or subjective theorizing, but it can provide a complementary set of tools that we believe will be appealing for qualitative demographers.

Methods: We apply topic modeling to text data from the Malawi Journals Project as a case study.

Results: We examine three common issues that demographers face in analyzing qualitative data: large samples, the challenge of comparing qualitative data across external categories, and making data analysis transparent and readily accessible to other scholars. We discuss ways that new tools from machine learning and computer science might help qualitative scholars to address these issues.

Conclusions: We believe that there is great promise in mixed-method approaches to analyzing text. New methods that allow better access to data and new ways to approach qualitative data are likely to be fertile ground for research.

Contribution: No research, to our knowledge, has used automated text analysis to take an explicitly mixed-method approach to the analysis of textual data. We develop a framework that allows qualitative researchers to do so.

Author's Affiliation

Parijat Chakrabarti - Princeton University, United States of America [Email]
Margaret Frye - Princeton University, United States of America [Email]

Other articles by the same author/authors in Demographic Research

» Physical attractiveness and women’s HIV risk in rural Malawi
Volume 37 - Article 10

Most recent similar articles in Demographic Research

» The more you learn the less you know? Interpretive ambiguity across three modes of qualitative data
Volume 28 - Article 33    | Keywords: Malawi, qualitative methods

» Reporting on first sexual experience: The importance of interviewer-respondent interaction
Volume 22 - Article 11    | Keywords: Malawi, qualitative methods

» The anthropological demography of Europe
Volume 17 - Article 18    | Keywords: mixed methods, qualitative methods

» Comparing, Contextualizing, and Conceptualizing: Enhancing Quantitative Data on Women's Situation in Rural Africa
Special Collection 1 - Article 5    | Keywords: Malawi, qualitative methods

» Women’s health decline following (some) unintended births: A prospective study
Volume 45 - Article 17    | Keywords: Malawi