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There are sometimes tensions between these different aims, and the styles of work associated with them (see, for example, Nightingale & Cromby, 1999, Parker & Burman (1993) and the extended debate in the pages of Discourse and Society [Billig, 1999a; Schegloff, 1997; Schegloff, 1998; Schegloff, 1999; Wetherell, 1998; Stokoe & Smithson, 2001]). Our aim here is not further to rehearse these debates and issues, but to highlight some methodological troubles that are visible from whatever discourse perspective, within the social sciences, one adopts. Some of these debates concern the extent to which analysts are justified in using information from outside a particular text in order to analyse that text. This is particularly so in the debate between those who advocate a classical conversation analytic position and those who believe that discourse analysis needs to be combined with critical social theory. We do not have a collective position in these debates. In fact, individually we have taken different, even opposing, positions within such controversies. By the same token, our own work encompasses a variety of ways of doing discourse analysis. Some of our work is directly based upon conversation analysis, some is addressed towards ideological issues and some combines both these aspects. Whatever the differences in our styles of research and in the theoretical positions that we have adopted, we are united by a common concern. Those using discourse analysis must take analysis seriously for there are basic requirements for analysis, regardless of the particular type of analysis one undertakes. In this paper we aim to explore these basic requirements. In so doing, we do not seek to promote a particular type of discourse analysis.

We are aware that some of what we will be arguing is already familiar in the broader social science literature on qualitative methods in general (e.g. Coffey & Atkinson, 1996; Gilbert, 1993; Silverman, 1997; Silverman, 2001). We are concerned with the variable quality of discourse work specifically in our own discipline, and hope to contribute to the literature that has already grown up within it. General overviews can be found in Coyle (1995), Gill (1996), Potter & Wetherell (1987), Potter (1996), Potter (1997), Potter (in press), Wood & Kroger (2000) and Wooffitt (1993). Billig (1997a) and Potter & Wetherell (1994) work through the process of analysis with a specific example. Potter & Wetherell (1995) discuss the analysis of broad themes and interpretative repertoires drawn on in interview talk. Potter (1998) compares grounded theory, ethnography and discourse analysis in the analysis of clinical materials. Edwards & Potter (2001) discuss discursive psychological analysis of the role of psychological talk in institutions. Yates, et al., (2001) introduce and compare a range of different approaches to analysing discourse. All of these have positive things to say about doing analysis. But they leave implicit what is not analysis. That is what we want to make explicit in this paper.

This basic position is not out of line with those who comment on the study of discourse in other disciplines. David Silverman, for example, makes similar critical points in the conclusion to his recent book on analysing qualitative data in social sciences in general (Silverman, 2001). In the domain of journal publishing, Teun van Dijk, in the first editorial of Discourse and Society, the journal founded to study discourse and its relations to social processes, goes out of his way to emphasise the need for 'explicit and systematic analysis' based on 'serious methods and theories' (van Dijk, 1990, p.14). In this editorial van Dijk made it clear that the journal would only accept papers that were engaged in some form of discursive or textual analysis. Over the years, van Dijk has repeated this requirement in various editorials. He has done so because many papers submitted to the journal have in fact engaged in minimal analysis of discourse, although the authors might claim to be doing some form of 'discourse analysis' (van Dijk, personal communication). One of us is, in fact, a 'co-editor' of Discourse and Society and is aware of such issues. We mention this now in order to emphasise that the problems, which we are discussing in this current paper, are by no means confined to social psychology nor to a particular form of discourse analysis.

What we shall do in this paper, then, is to identify things that might superficially give the appearance of conducting those kinds of discourse analyses that are the province of the social sciences, and that are increasingly seen in social psychology. We have collected together six such non-analyses: (1) under-analysis through summary; (2) under-analysis through taking sides; (3) under-analysis through over-quotation or through isolated quotation; (4) the circular identification of discourses and mental constructs; (5) false survey; and (6) analysis that consists in simply spotting features. It would be invidious to single out one or even a small number of studies as representing these problems (although it is not hard to find such studies). Instead we will sketch out the problems in a more general way, and illustrate them in relation to a single piece of data.

Discourse analysis can be performed on a wide variety of talk and text. For convenience we reproduce an extract from an interview, but we do not mean to imply that interviews are specially preferred sources of data. We will reproduce the extract (on the nature of marriage) here in its entirety, as it will be drawn on repeatedly in the course of the paper. The data have been transcribed using conventions, now common in much discourse analysis, developed by the conversation analyst Gail Jefferson (see Hutchby & Wooffitt, 1998, or ten Have, 1999 for details; a brief summary is provided in an appendix; a brief summary is provided in an appendix; for an online description in greater detail, see The extract is part of a set of interviews generated in a research project, and written permission has been given to use it for research and teaching purposes.

There is a danger of extrapolating from one's data to the world at large. This error is not unknown in quantitative research, of course. It may be avoided by explicitly survey-oriented studies, but is not uncommon in experimental social psychology when findings are subtly generalised from the sample of the experiment (say, a set of North American undergraduates) to the universal categories they are supposed to represent (women, high achievers, people with a certain attributional style). Discussion sections of experimental papers sometimes use such unqualified terms, with the logical implication that they encompass all members of that category.

It is worth revisiting the two reasons we had for writing this paper. One is to help those who approach DA enthusiastically, but in an environment where there is less support than there would be for more traditional methods of analysis, and so less opportunity to test and refine methods among sympathetic colleagues. The other is to scotch the sort of errors that give comfort to the traditionally-minded who accuse DA of 'anything goes'.

Background: Psychiatric community studies are essential for the planning and development of psychiatric services, as well as being helpful in examining the socio-demographic correlates of mental disorders in a given community. Few such studies have been carried out to date in the Arabian peninsula. This paper forms part of a multipurpose community psychiatric survey conducted in A1 Ain in the United Arab Emirates. The findings regarding lifetime prevalence and psychiatric morbidity are reported.

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