An often underappreciated but critical stage in the process of conducting a content or interaction analysis is the division of communicative messages into units. Discussions of content analytic method usually detail the complexities involved in validly and reliably assigning units to categories, but all too rarely involve the identification of units themselves. [Page 1422]If units are not identified reliably, then the resulting content analysis will be unreliable. Unless the analyst has previously separated the unitizing and categorizing stages in the content analysis process, the analyst will have no way of knowing which of the two stages is responsible for the reliability shortfall, which is why unitizing reliability is so important to communication researchers. This entry reveals two situations in which unitizing reliability is ...
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