Analysis in digital media research can be a tricky area due to the sheer diversity of different types of data that may be generated by a single project: numbers, text, web pages, blog posts, feeds, photos, drawings, videos, animations, audio recordings and so on.

Analysing messy data sets requires:

  • Careful planning at the outset. Make sure you have a clear sense of how you will analyse each type of data you plan to collect. If there are some forms of data that you want to collect but don't know how to analyse, do some more reading around the subject (see our bibliography, below), consult an expert in that area, and/or consider building some training into your project plan.
  • Clarity about exactly what purpose you want your research to serve. Revisiting your research aims and questions, and revising them if necessary, will help you decide what to draw out from your data to serve your intended purpose.
  • Reviewing your data set. What different types of data do you have? What is the quantity and quality of each different type? Do you want to analyse all your data, or just some of it?
  • Choosing methods for analysing each of the different types of data. This might also involve dividing up the analysis work amongst your team, and/or linking up with outside experts to get advice on analysing different types of data.


We have produced an annotated bibliography to help you explore different approaches to analysis.

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“It could be that the software you want children to evaluate isn’t available in school because of the school’s child protection firewalls – so there are all kinds of practical issues there.”
Judy Robertson, Heriot Watt University