Greetings, I am June Gothberg, Lead Curator for aea365 and Research Associate at Western Michigan University. As Lead Curator, I am always looking for ways to expand the knowledge of evaluators through hot tips, cool tricks, lessons learned, and rad resources. While working on my dissertation, I made a great find and thought I would share it with you. I was looking for a way to measure my variables measuring conversations between participants. In my search of the literature, I ran across the Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count (LIWC) software and discovered it’s multitude of uses.
LIWC is a computerized text analysis program with Mac and Window versions. It calculates the degree to which people use different categories of words across texts, including emails, speeches, poems, or transcribed daily speech. A few of the most interesting include positive or negative emotions, self-references, causal words, as well as 70 other language dimensions. A new area in which LIWC is being used is social network analysis.
- Don’t be afraid to go outside your field. For example, the roots of modern text analysis are found in the field of psychology.
- In general, LIWC categorizes words hierarchically. For example, insight is a subgroup of cognitive processes and anger is a subgroup of negative emotions. So, you must decide what level to measure.
- LIWC offers a nice triangulation for analyzing data. It helped validate the rater/coder findings of my study in an unbiased manner.
- Except for raw word count and words per sentence, all variables reflect the percentage of total words.
- LIWC offers a truncated free online version. This is a good way to try-before-you-buy. You must supply the gender and age for the participant from which the text was derived.
- LIWC allows customized dictionaries of words and phrases. We are currently working on an evidence-based dictionary to identify words in speech as markers for resiliency and self-determination.
- Read the manual! The manual explains how to deal with abbreviations, punctuation, numerals, contractions, time stamps, slang, nonfluencies, and filler words.
- Use a transcriber who understands the manual. If transcriptionists follow the LIWC guidelines much time and effort is saved.
- Use the option for batch processing.
- Combine variables. If you have a certain variable of interest, you may move LIWC output into your statistical analysis software and combine variables. One of our variables of interest was participant feelings of a positive employment outlook. We combined positive emotion, future tense, and employment (posemo+future+work). We were then able to compare those who participated in a skills training session and those who did not.
Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to firstname.lastname@example.org . aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.