Publication Date



Content analysis is a common research method employed in communication studies. An important part of content analysis is establishing the reliability of the coding protocol, and reporting must be detailed enough to allow for replication of methodological procedures. This study employed a content analysis of published content analysis articles (N=581) in three communication journals over a 26-year period to examine changes in reliability sampling procedures and reporting of reliability coefficients across time. Findings indicate that general improvements have been made in the detail of reporting reliability, in the practice of reporting reliability coefficients that take chance into consideration, and in the reporting of reliability coefficients for more than one variable. However, explaining the reliability sampling process and use of a probability or census reliability sample did not change over time. In recent years, the preponderance of articles did not explain the reliability sampling method or report a reliability coefficient for all key study variables, and few utilized a census or probability sampling frame. Implications are discussed and recommendations made for reporting of reliability in content analysis.


Communication Research; Content Analysis; Experiment/Theoretical Treatment; Probability; Reliability; Research Methodology; Sampling Techniques

Publication Information

Communication Methods and Measures, 2014, Volume 8, Issue 3, 207-221.

© 2014 Routledge

Archived version is the accepted manuscript.

This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Communication Methods and Measures in August, 2014, available online: 10.1080/19312458.2014.937528





Document Type

Journal Article