Software Review: NVivo as a Teaching Tool

nvivo-logoFor the past few weeks, DASIL has been publishing a series of blog posts comparing the two presidential candidates this year – Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump – using NVivo, a text analysis software. Given the increasing demand for qualitative data analysis in academic research and teaching, this blog post will discuss the strengths and weaknesses of NVivo as a teaching tool in qualitative analysis.

Efficiency and reliability

Using software like NVivo in content analysis can add rigor to qualitative research. Doing word search or coding using NVivo will produce more reliable results than doing so manually since the software rules out human error. Furthermore, NVivo proves to be really useful with large data sets – it would be extremely time-consuming to code hundreds of documents by hand with a highlighter pen.

Ease of use

NVivo is relatively simple to use. Users can import documents directly from word processing packages in various forms, including Word documents and pdfs, and code these documents easily on screen via the point-and-click system. Teachers and students can quickly become proficient in use of this software.

NVivo and social media

NVivo allows users to import Tweets, Facebook posts, and Youtube comments and incorporate them as part of their data. Given the rise of social media and increased interest in studying its impact on our society, this capability of NVivo may become more heavily employed.

Segmenting and identifying patterns 

NVivo allows users to create clusters of nodes and organize their data into categories and themes, making it easy for researchers to identify patterns. At the same time, the use of word clouds and cluster analysis also provides insight into prevailing themes and topics across data sets.

Limitations

While NVivo seems to be a great software that serves to provide a reliable, general picture of the data, it is important to be aware of its limitations. It may be tempting to limit the data analysis process to automatic word searches that yield a list of nodes and themes. While it is alluring to do so, in-depth analyses and critical thinking skill are needed for meaningful data analysis.

Although it is possible to search for particular words and derivations of those words, various ways in which ideas are expressed make it difficult to find all instances of a particular usage of words or ideas. Manual searches and evaluation of automatic word searches help to ensure that the data are, in fact, thoroughly examined.

Once individual themes in a data set are found, NVivo doesn’t provides tools to map out how these themes relate to one another, making it difficult to visualize the inter-relationships of the nodes and topics across data sets. Users need to think critically about ways in which these themes emerge and relate to each other to gain a deeper understanding of the data.

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Portraits of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton

Clinton vs. Trump on Immigration: What Do Their Official Websites Reveal?

On her website, Clinton provides positions on over thirty-five issues, while Trump lists positions on just thirteen issues, a number that has grown from a mere seven positions a month ago. Trump and Clinton’s stances on immigration differ dramatically. While the Trump campaign frames immigration as a source of tremendous economic turmoil and a gateway for crime into the United States, Clinton devotes much more of her rhetoric towards demonstrating compassion for immigrants.

Word cloud presenting 30 most commonly used words in Clinton's position on immigration

Word Cloud: 30 Most Commonly Used Words in Clinton’s Position on Immigration

Word cloud presenting 30 most commonly used words in Trump's position on immigration

Word Cloud: The 30 Most Commonly Used Words in Trump’s Position on Immigration

After “immigration,” the most commonly used word on Clinton’s immigration webpage was “families” (16 uses), while for Trump  it was “illegal” (18 uses). Other common Trump words include: “visa,” “states,” officers,” “aliens,” and “ICE” (Immigration Customs Enforcement). All reflect his conceptualization of immigration as a legal issue that necessitates aggressive enforcement.

The immigration statement posted on Trump’s website has twelve references to the economy and seven references to crime. Simultaneously framing immigration as a cause for economic and criminal concern, Trump cited the “horrific crimes” border-crossing criminals have committed against Americans.

Screenshot of Donald Trump's Immigration Reform Webpage

Screenshot of Donald Trump’s Immigration Reform Webpage

Trump attempts to strike fear in the hearts of everyday Americans by explicitly connecting unlawful immigration with infrequent and sensationalized violent crimes. His website graphically describes, “an illegal immigrant from Mexico, with a long arrest record, is charged with breaking into a 64 year old woman’s home [and] crushing her skull and eye sockets with a hammer.” He also links immigration to terroristic crime: “From the 9/11 hijackers, to the Boston Bombers, and many others, our immigration system is being used to attack us.”

For Trump immigration is a cause of economic anxieties for ordinary citizens.  He claims that “U.S. taxpayers have been asked to pick up hundreds of billions of healthcare costs, education costs, welfare costs, etc. Indeed the annual cost of free tax credits alone paid to illegal immigrants quadrupled to $4.2 billion in 201. The effects on jobseekers have also been disastrous, and black Americans have been particularly harmed.”

Many of his policy plans tie the economy to immigration. Beneath a heading that reads “Jobs program for inner city youth,” Trump explains that under his administration, “The J-1 visa jobs program for foreign youth will be terminated and replaced with a resume bank for inner city youth provided to all corporate subscribers to the J-1 visa program.”

“Us Versus Them” provides a consistent theme. Trump’s platform states, “Real immigration reform puts the needs of working people first – not wealthy globetrotting donors,” once again emphasizing his economic concerns regarding immigration while appealing to working-class Americans. He assures voters that “We will not be taken advantage of anymore” by Mexico.

In contrast, Clinton’s position on immigration reform (listed under the “Justice and Equality” section of her issues webpage) uses pro-immigrant and pro-family rhetoric.

Screenshot of Hillary Clinton’s Immigration Reform Webpage

Screenshot of Hillary Clinton’s Immigration Reform Webpage

Unlike her opponent, Clinton does not use the word “illegal” a single time on her immigration webpage.  Notably, she does not use the politically correct alternative “undocumented” either.   Clinton asserts that Americans must “stay true to our fundamental American values; that we are a nation of immigrants, and we treat those who come to our country with dignity and respect—and that we embrace immigrants, not denigrate them.”

Clinton refers to immigration as a crime only once. She claims that: “Immigration enforcement must be humane, targeted, and effective,”  and that she will “focus resources on detaining and deporting those individuals who pose a violent threat to public safety.” While this part of the statement does frame some immigrants as “violent threats,” it positions most as law-abiding members of families.

In stark contrast to Trump, Clinton places a premium on showing compassion for immigrants who face difficult circumstances and emphasizes keeping families together as a top priority of her immigration policy.  Clinton states that she would “Do everything possible under the law to protect families.” She “will end family detention for parents and children who arrive at our border in desperate situations and close private immigrant detention centers,” and even ensure health care to all families including those of immigrants.

Clinton’s page includes words like “heartbreaking” and “sympathetic” to describe the cases of immigrants who do not enjoy full legal status and claims that her plan for immigration reform will “bring millions of hardworking people into the formal economy.”

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Portraits of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton

Clinton vs. Trump: Who‘s Winning on Twitter?

An analysis of 3000 tweets sent by the Clinton and Trump campaigns between March and early September this year (2016) reveals stark differences in both content and social media exposure.

Up to September 2016, Trump boasted a number of 11.6 million Twitter followers compared to 8.86 million for Clinton. The average number of retweet for Trumps’ Twitter posts (5493) is also roughly twice as high as that from Clinton’s (2556).

Interestingly, as of July 2016, the number of daily tweets from Clinton’s account doubled to roughly 30 tweets daily while that same figure from Trump hovered around 12 tweets a day. These statistics suggest that Trump is gaining more engagement from Twitters’ users, even though Clinton is also fighting hard to gain presence in social media.

Tweets’ content analysisWord clouds featuring 100 most frequent words in Hillary Clinton's and Donald Trump's tweets

Clearly, both candidates refer to each other consistently in their tweets. Clinton mentions Trump primarily in terms of his disrespect for generals, immigration policies, tax breaks for the wealthy and failure to release tax returns. Popular themes in Clinton’s tweets are “families”, “women” and “jobs”. She tends to use words that suggests the togetherness of the American community as well as a positive attitude towards good changes for America.

Similarly, Trump made many references to Clinton through his posts, although he tended to use her first name, rather than her last. The word “Hillary” or the phrase “Crooked Hillary” was mentioned 547 times. Common topics that Trump addresses include controversy around Clinton’s emails, media manipulation, and criticism towards Clinton’s policies on foreign affairs and immigration.

Interestingly, Trump refers to Democrats, like Bernie Sanders and Barack Obama, as well as Republicans like his former opponents Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. Unlike Clinton, Trump tends to make a greater use of words with negative tones, which sketch a pretty bleak portrait of the  U.S. , perhaps to make the case for the need to, as his campaign slogan phrases it, “Make American great again”.

Who do they talk to? 

In her tweets, Clinton frequently mentions @realDonaldTrump, but Trump does not seem to tag Clinton or mention her Twitter handle even though his Tweets mention her name consistently. Clinton seems to employ the strategy of engaging with and directly mentioning her opponent’s Twitter account, whereas Trump chooses to simply ignore his rival. It remains to be seen which strategy is more effective in this presidential election.Most common mentions in Trump's tweetsPie chart featuring the most common mentions in Clinton's tweetsWhile Clinton tends to mention Twitter users who are figures of her political party – @BillClinton for example, Trump referred to various right-wing media shows and channels – such as @FoxNews and @MegynKelly. Interestingly, Trump’s posts with mentions have on average 4 times the number of retweets as those without mention. Clinton’s posts with mentions have a 3 times higher number of retweets. Thus, mentions appear to increase the likelihood of retweets. Given that the average number of retweets for Trump’s posts is greater than that of Clinton’s, it seems like Trump’s way of using mentions may help him gain more attention from Twitter’s user community, although there may be other explanations as well.

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Portraits of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton

2016 U.S. Presidential Race: Do Convention Speeches Predict the Winner?

After the Republican and Democratic Conventions in July, the 2016 U.S. presidential race is on between Democrat Hillary Clinton, who is making history as the first female presidential nominee from one of the two major political parties, and Republican Donald Trump, the contentious and provocative New York billionaire. The race for the White House this year is undoubtedly one of the most memorable events in the history of American politics, partly because of the stark contrast between the two candidates, from their political and economic agenda to their appeal to voters. Using Nvivo, a text-analysis software, DASIL compared Clinton and Trump’s acceptance speeches at their respective party conventions to further demonstrate these differences.

Main theme and important issues

Word cloud of 30 most frequent words in Donald Trump's speech

30 most frequent words in Donald Trump’s speech

Looking at the 30 most frequent words in Trump’s speech, we can see that the main issues mentioned by the Republican candidate are immigration, national security, and public safety. The most common words in the speech include “violence”, “immigration”, “protect”, “border”, “laws”, “jobs”, and “violence”, highlighting a dark portrait of the current state of America. Trump strongly emphasized that much must be changed in order to fix these issues, and that he, rather than a Democratic leader, will change this grim outcome by restoring law and order.
Word Cloud of 3 most frequent words in Hillary Clinton's speech

30 most frequent words in Hillary Clinton’s speech

Clinton, on the other hand, gave a more optimistic and upbeat speech. While acknowledging the current issues facing America and the work needed to be done, Clinton also highlighted the strengths that the nation brings to overcome these challenges. Some of the most frequent words in her speech are “family”, “people”, “works”, “jobs” and “together”, hinting at some issues that the Democratic presidential candidate wants to tackle. At the same time, these words center around the notion of inclusivity and staying united, which offers stark contrast to Trump’s anti-immigration stance, isolationism, and Americanism.

“We” versus “I”

Using Nvivo, DASIL also compares how often the two presidential candidates used “we” words – such as we, our, ours, and ourselves – versus “I” words – such as I, me, my, mine, and myself in their convention speeches.

Table showing Trump and Clinton's "we" and "I" words

For every time Clinton said “I”, she said “we” 1.83 times, while her Republican opponent said “we” only 1.5 times for each “I”. With a 1.50 “we”-to-“I” ratio, Trump delivered a more self-focused convention speech than his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton, whose speech has a “we”-to-“I” ratio of 1.83. The difference in use of “we” versus “I” words between the two candidates reveals much about their speaking styles, personalities, and even chances of winning the election. A Bloomberg Politics study of convention speeches dating back to 1976 finds that the public tend to favor candidates who use more “we” words relative to “I” words. In nine out of 10 elections since 1976, the general election winners achieved a higher “we”-to-”I”-word score compared to his opponent [Bloomberg]

Bar graph showing the number of "we" words per each "me" words for presidential nominees since 1976

Bloomberg points out that “we” words inspire confidence in others and also reflect the speaker’s self-confidence, which is a key quality in good leadership. Clinton’s “we”-to-“I” victory over Trump in her convention speech suggests that she’s in the lead position to win in November. Trump’s speaking style is more personal; furthermore, his I-word usage reveals feelings of insecurity, perhaps due to a lack of political background and experience on political issues.

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The #Holidays, According to Twitter

The holiday season is among us, and people are flocking to social media to share their thoughts about the holidays with friends, family, and followers. Using Nvivo, a text-analysis software, DASIL tracked tweets with the hashtags #Kwanzaa, #Hanukkah, and #Christmas published on Dec. 10th and earlier to create word clouds that demonstrate the top 100 words most frequently associated with each holiday.
xmasscreenhanukkahscreenkwanzaascreen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For Christmas, tweets highlight how highly commercialized the nature of the holiday has become. The most common words found alongside “Christmas” include “win,” “giveaway,” “luck,” “enter,” “chance,” and others, attesting to how advertisements for giveaways and contests to win prizes are dominating talk of Christmas in the Twittersphere. A handful of tweets reference the holiday’s secular traditions, with words like “decked,” “festive,” “tree,” and “lighting.”

Like Christmas tweets, Hanukkah tweets mention words relating to its traditions (“menorah,” “candles,” “lighting,” and “latkes”). Hanukkah tweets differ from Christmas tweets by centering instead on sentimental values and inclusivity, with words like “happy,” “everyone,” “celebrating,” and “family.” Some Hanukkah tweeters are also using the holiday to highlight political issues, with mentions of “Netanyahu,” Israel’s prime minister, as well as “police,” “western,” “border,” and “#muslim.” Surprisingly, both Hanukkah and Christmas tweets completely ignore their religious roots, with no mentions of words relating to the respective origins of each holiday.

The words associated with Kwanzaa, the week-long celebration of African heritage by the West African diaspora, are a grab-bag: words like “celebration,” “promoted,” “happy,” “family,” and “submissions” reveal a mixture of sentimental and commercial connotations. Interestingly, the “#blacklivesmatter” hashtag crops up as one common word associated with Kwanzaa, showing how Kwanzaa, like Hanukkah, is being used as a vehicle to spotlight social and political issues revolving around racial injustice.

All in all, the big takeaways from this short text analysis are that, of the three current holidays, Christmas is the most commercial.  Hannukkah celebrates family and inclusivity, but also has a political edge, while Kwanzaa has a less focused identity.

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