Call for Papers Special Issue "Qualitative Content Analysis"


Guest Editors

Markus Janssen (University of Education Weingarten, Germany), Christoph Stamann (University of Education Weingarten, Germany), Margrit Schreier (Jacobs University Bremen, Germany), Thomas Dahl (Norwegian University for Science and Technology, Norway) & Trevor Mutton (University of Oxford, UK)


Qualitative content analysis is a highly popular method for analyzing qualitative data in many social science disciplines. It has emerged as feasible and applicable to a wide range of topics and contexts. Nevertheless we argue that there is a need for a special issue on qualitative content analysis. Why should this be the case?

In spite of—or precisely because of—the widespread use of the method, there are many open questions concerning its application; there is a need for systematizing the different approaches to qualitative content analysis; there is great potential for further development; and there is a need to address some of the important critique of the method that has been raised. All of these necessitate further discussion from an applied, a procedural, and a methodological perspective.

This special issue continues the lines of discussion that emerged in the context of the conference "Qualitative Content Analysis—And Beyond?” that was held in October 2016 in Weingarten, Germany. Potential topics include:

  • To what extent do the many approaches to qualitative content analysis and the various core concepts (e.g., codes, categories) require a more systematic methodological approach? How can they—or should they—be systematized?
  • What is the role of qualitative content analysis in the context of qualitative social research in general? Is the distinction between different qualitative traditions relevant here, and in what way?
  • How does qualitative content analysis relate to other qualitative research methods? What are the similarities, and what are the differences?
  • What are the future trends for the advancement of qualitative content analysis? What are potential innovations, e.g., with a view to "big data"?
  • To what extent should qualitative content analysis be designed so as to better match the core concerns of qualitative social science research, e.g., by strengthening the case orientation of the method?
  • How is the method conceptualized and applied in different disciplinary contexts, e.g., in medical research, psychology, educational research, and others?
  • What are the questions and challenges that emerge when actually conducting qualitative content analysis?

We invite methodological as well as applied contributions dealing with these and with additional questions. Contributions from the "inside" perspective of qualitative content analysis and contributions taking the perspective of other methods looking "out" towards and examining qualitative content analysis are equally welcome (6.000 – 8.000 words). One of the aims of this special issue is to bring the German and the English-language discussion surrounding the method closer together, and contributions that go beyond the German-speaking context are especially welcome.

We further invite short "Reports From the Shopfloor" (1.000 – 2.500 words). These should describe challenges that came up in the course of applying qualitative content analysis and how these challenges were met. In this process, potential areas for the further development of qualitative content analysis should become visible.

Publication Process

We invite potential contributors to send their abstracts (750–1.000 words) by April 30, 2018 to Markus Janssen ( and Christoph Stamann ( Please specify whether you plan to submit a regular contribution or a short "Report From the Shopfloor." Contributions can be submitted in English or in German. Authors will be notified by June 30, 2018, about the decision of the editors and, if their contribution has been accepted, will be invited to submit a full version of their manuscript. The deadline for submitting full manuscripts is December 31, 2018. Authors will receive feedback within three months and are requested to submit the revised version of their contribution within another two months. Publication of the thematic issue is planned in September 2019.

Author Guidelines

Abstracts and contributions (including ‚"Reports From the Shopfloor"), should follow the general FQS guidelines for authors (


Please submit your abstract and send any questions you may have to Markus Janssen ( and Christoph Stamann (

You are welcome to distribute this call to anyone who may be interested.

The Editors

Markus JANSSEN and Christoph STAMANN are lecturers in the Department of Educational Science at the University of Education Weingarten, Germany. Together they are responsible for a workshop series on qualitative content analysis at Weingarten, and they hosted and organized the conference "Qualitative Content Analysis—And Beyond?" in October 2016 at the University of Education Weingarten.

Margrit SCHREIER is a psychologist and professor of empirical research methods at Jacobs University Bremen, Germany. In her methodological work she focuses on qualitative content analysis, case selection in qualitative research, and mixed methods. Her publications include "Qualitative Content Analysis in Practice" (Sage, 2012).

Thomas DAHL is professor in management and organization at the Norwegian University for Science and Technology. His main research focus is on the organization and management of knowledge work and the epistemological grounding of professional work. He has been using a variety of methods in his research, from discourse analysis and phenomenological approaches, to quantitative methods, and he has been heading many large research projects with multi-methodological approaches. He teaches among other subjects in theories and methodologies of science in master and Ph.D. programs in Norway. 

Trevor MUTTON is associate professor of education and director of professional programs at the University of Oxford, UK. His work (in collaboration with other colleagues at Oxford) has used qualitative content analysis as a key methodological approach.