Qualitative Content Analysis: Conceptualizations and Challenges in Research Practice—Introduction to the FQS Special Issue "Qualitative Content Analysis I"


  • Margrit Schreier Jacobs University Bremen gGmbH
  • Christoph Stamann Pädagogische Hochschule Karlsruhe
  • Markus Janssen Pädagogische Hochschule Weingarten
  • Thomas Dahl Norwegian University of Science and Technology
  • Amanda Whittal Bocconi University




qualitative content analysis, quantitative content analysis, grounded theory methodology, history of qualitative content analysis, mixed methods, text analysis, qualitative research methods


In this contribution we introduce Part I of the special issue on qualitative content analysis (QCA). We start by describing the rationale on which this special issue is based and our considerations in dividing the topic into two separate parts. We then provide an overview of concerns in the current methodological discussion of QCA, identifying four core areas: 1. the conceptualization of QCA as a hybrid of quantitative and qualitative elements or as a genuinely qualitative method; 2. the relationship between the German and the international discourse on QCA; 3. the question of whether theoretical and / or epistemological foundations of QCA can be identified; and 4. the lack of transparency in documenting the application of QCA. Next, we outline the process of putting together this special issue and provide an overview of the structure and how the contributions relate to each other. In this current Part I, we focus on contributions in which authors deal with questions concerning the conceptualization of QCA, and on discussions of challenges that arise during the application of QCA and how these challenges were met. We conclude that there are multiple conceptualizations of QCA in the literature, and that this multiplicity is reflected in the variety of challenges and creative solutions described by the authors in this first part of the special issue.


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Author Biographies

Margrit Schreier, Jacobs University Bremen gGmbH

Margrit SCHREIER is professor of empirical research methods at Jacobs University Bremen. In her research, she focuses on qualitative research methods and methodology, mixed methods, media psychology, sensory processing sensitivity, and health-related topics.

Christoph Stamann, Pädagogische Hochschule Karlsruhe

Christoph STAMANN has been an academic staff member in educational science at the University of Education Weingarten until September 18, 2019. He and Markus JANSSEN were responsible for the research workshop on qualitative content analysis. Since September, 2019, he works as academic staff member at the University of Education in Karlsruhe, within the BMBF funded research and development project LemaS.

Markus Janssen, Pädagogische Hochschule Weingarten

Markus JANSSEN is a teaching and research assistant and PhD candidate at the University of Education Weingarten. He primarily works in the field of initial teacher education and is chair of the interpretation group/ research workshop on qualitative content analysis at Weingarten University.

Thomas Dahl, Norwegian University of Science and Technology

Thomas DAHL holds a PhD in science studies from Roskilde University Centre, Denmark. He worked as assistant professor at Department of Technology Studies (1994-1996) and Department of Philosophy (1996-98) at the University of Trondheim, before working as researcher and head of research at SINTEF (1998-2012), an independent research organization in Norway. Since 2012 he has been a professor in organization and management at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology.

Amanda Whittal, Bocconi University

Amanda WHITTAL is a health psychologist and research associate at Bocconi University in Milan, Italy, and the Institut für Allgemeinmedizin (ifam) in Düsseldorf, Germany. Her main research interests are in the fields of health policy and decision making for rare disease treatments, self-care and health behavior change interventions, and cultural influences on health. In her work she applies qualitative methods including content analysis, observational study, interviews, as well as mixed methods.




How to Cite

Schreier, M., Stamann, C., Janssen, M., Dahl, T., & Whittal, A. (2019). Qualitative Content Analysis: Conceptualizations and Challenges in Research Practice—Introduction to the FQS Special Issue "Qualitative Content Analysis I". Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 20(3). https://doi.org/10.17169/fqs-20.3.3393



Qualitative Content Analysis I

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