PART 2: Content Analysis
General or specialized?
QUESTION: Is the material intended for a general audience or a specialized audience?
The language will vary according to the intended audience. If you are researching the use of steroids among athletes for a freshman speech class, information intended for a general audience will probably be okay, but if you are researching the same topic for a graduate physical education course, you will want more specialized information.
A magazine like Sports Illustrated uses language that is easily understood and would be fine to use for a speech class: " Doctors believe the risks of steroids include heart disease, stroke, liver tumors, depression, 'roid rage and testicular atrophy" (" The 'Roid to Ruin." Sports Illustrated, Aug. 21, 2000: 92).
A scholarly journal like Physician and Sportsmedicine uses terminology that is known to sports physicians and others in that field, and would be a good source of specialized information: " Most male AAS users exhibit some combination of acne, gynecomastia, and striae" (" Anabolic-Androgenic Steroid Abuse." Physician and Sportsmedicine, 28 (12): 67).
QUESTION: Is the material too elementary or too advanced?
Think about your audience and tailor your research to fit the audience. Let's say you are giving a speech to a freshman English class on the prevention of AIDS. For that group, you will want basic, understandable information. On the other hand, if you are doing research on the prevention of AIDS for a senior level biology class, your information would be more advanced, designed to meet the needs of that audience.
- A book about the effects of steroids on the body that uses technical words that you don't know...and can't even find in a regular dictionary
- A Web site meant to keep kids from using steroids that uses scare tactics...but the language is aimed at elementary school kids and the site doesn't have much solid information
For research, you also need to distinguish between inspirational sources and research sources. For a research paper, you could use scholarly studies of the effects of spirituality on a person's well-being along with biblical references.