Inference and Analysis
Analysis is a particular form of investigation. In general usage, analysis refers to any close, careful, or systematic examination. In the discussion here, the term “analysis“ is used in its more technical meaning. Analysis is a process of investigating something by breaking it into parts for closer examination. Complex topics are broken down into simpler ones. Intricate patterns are broken down into less complicated elements. A problem is simplified by limiting the amount that must be examined at any one time.
The goal of analysis is not simply to discover parts within the whole, but to understand the whole. Once the parts are identified, analysis then seeks to determine how those parts are related. From a recognition of
Levels of AnalysisAnalysis can be carried out on various levels. Any part can be analyzed into smaller parts. A table of contents, for instance, indicates the contents of a book at various levels of analysis: parts, chapters, sections, etc.
Bases of AnalysisFinally, note that a single topic can often be broken up for analysis in a number of ways. An anthropologist might view society in terms of cultural values and institutions; the sociologist might look at issues of group identity and social interaction. The anthropologist might look at how justice is administered, the sociologist at the social status of judges. One would speak in terms of mores and ethical principles, the other in terms of social class and socio-economic status. They may analyze the same society, but their different bases of analysis lead to different understandings.
Analyzing TextsWhat are the parts of a text? The simplest answer is that texts are composed of words, which form sentences, which form paragraphs, which form larger sections of a the text as a whole. Texts can also be analyzed in terms of elements or themes occurring throughout the discussion, like colors throughout plaid cloth.
The discussion throughout these web pages focuses on analysis of three basic elements of choice by the author: content, language, and structure.
Inference: Reading and Writing Ideas as Well as Words
Inference: The Process
Inference: Inference Equations
Inference: Association and Reference
Inference: Figurative Language