From neuroscience to behavioural economics, from advanced and adaptive choice models to participative ethnography, from facial coding to big data there are masses of analysis approaches that are threatening to be the next big thing (yes, I know they are not all new, but they are contending to be the next big thing), and I’d love to hear your thoughts.
However, in my opinion, text analytics (using the term in its widest sense, but focusing on computer assisted and automated approaches) is my pick for the biggest hit of the next few years. There are several reasons for this, including:
- The software is beginning to work, from tools to help manual analysts at one end of the spectrum, to better coding, through to concept construction software, the tools are beginning to mature and deliver.
- Text analytics, as a category, is not linked to a niche. Text occurs in qual and quant, in free text, in the answers to survey questions, and in discussions.
- Text analytics will help us ask shorter surveys, one of the key needs over the next few years. Instead of trying to pre-guess everything that might be important, researchers can reduce the number of closed questions massively, and ask Why? For example? and Which? as open-ended questions.
- Text analytics will work well with the current leading growth area in research, namely communities. Many communities are kept artificially small to make it practical to moderate and communicate with members. With text analytics it will be possible to have far more members in discursive communities.
- Text analytics will be essential to help understand the ‘why’ created by big data’s ‘what’.
- Text analytics is the key to most forms of social media research, turning millions of real conversations into actionable insight.
I am clearly not alone in my view on text analytics, at this year’s AMSRS conference in Sydney there are at least three papers looking at different applications of text analytics and I am going to be running a number of workshops on text analytics in the second half of this year.
What are your thoughts on text analytics?
If not text analytics, what would you pick as the analysis approach which is likely to have the biggest impact over the next five years?