Cambridge Computer Associates

  • User's Manual for the General Inquirer

    Philip J. Stone and Cambridge Computer Associates

    The purpose of this manual is to describe, from a user's point of view, the operational characteristics and requirements of the computer programs which constitute the General Inquirer content analysis system. It is intended to serve as a companion volume to an earlier work, The General Inquirer, in which the originators of the system treated theoretical and methodological issues of content analysis research, presented an overview of the system, and gathered reports of studies conducted with the system in diverse research fields. In supplementing the earlier volume, the manual provides instructions for preparing the data to be processed, choosing among the system's many processing options, and actually operating the programs on the IBM 7094 and 1401 computers.

    The approach adopted by the author is one of unremitting attention not only to the details of data preparation and processing but also to the operational contingencies among these details. The General Inquirer is a system of remarkable scope and flexibility; it is also a highly unified system. This means that decisions made by the investigator at an early stage of processing may have their major impact at a much later point. A user's manual worthy of the name should specify the options at the investigator's disposal and at the same time disclose all the implications of each possible choice. This manual is uniquely thorough in detailing such interrelationships.

    The intended audience of the manual included not only the investigator engaged in content analysis research but also the operations personnel who may assist him. Specifications are organized according to the expected needs of each group, but no knowledge of data-processing methods or terminology is assumed except for general information presented in the companion volume.

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