Thematic Analysis: What it is and How to Do It

Qualitative analysis may be a highly effective analytical approach when done correctly. Thematic analysis is one of the most frequently used qualitative analysis approaches.

One advantage of this analysis is that it is a versatile technique that can be utilized for both exploratory research (where you don’t know what patterns to look for) and more deductive studies (where you see what you’re searching for).

This article will break it down and show you how to do the thematic analysis correctly.

What is thematic analysis?

Thematic analysis is a method for analyzing qualitative data that involves reading through a set of data and looking for patterns in the meaning of the data to find themes. It is an active process of reflexivity in which the researcher’s subjective experience is at the center of making sense of the data.

Thematic analysis is typical in qualitative research. It emphasizes identifying, analyzing, and interpreting qualitative data patterns.

With this analysis, you can look at qualitative data in a certain way. It is usually used to describe a group of texts, like an interview or a set of transcripts. The researcher looks closely at the data to find common themes: repeated ideas, topics, or ways of putting things.

Ways to do thematic analysis

Let’s jump right into the process of thematic analysis. Remember that what we’ll talk about here is a general process, and the steps you need to take will depend on your approach and the research design.

Familiarization

The first stage in thematic analysis is examining your data for broad themes. This is where you transcribe audio data to text.

At this stage, you’ll need to decide what to code, what to employ, and which codes best represent your content. Now consider your topic’s emphasis and goals.

Keep a reflexivity diary. You’ll explain how you coded the data, why, and the results here. You may reflect on the coding process and examine if your codes and themes support your results. Using a reflective notebook from the start can help you in the later phases of your analysis.

A reflexivity journal increases dependability by allowing systematic, consistent data analysis. If using a reflexivity journal, specify your starting codes to see what your data reflects. Later on, the coded data may be analyzed more extensively or may find separate codes.

Look for themes in the codes.

At this stage, search for coding patterns or themes. From codes to themes is not a smooth or straightforward process. You may need to assign alternative codes or themes to learn more about the data.

As you analyze the data, you may uncover subthemes and subdivisions of themes that concentrate on a significant or relevant component. At this point, your reflexivity diary entries should indicate how codes were understood and integrated to produce themes.

Review themes

Now that you know your codes, themes, and subthemes. Evaluate your topics. At this stage, you’ll verify that everything you’ve classified as a theme matches the data and whether it exists in the data. If any themes are missing, you can continue to the next step, knowing you’ve coded all your themes properly and thoroughly.

If your topics are too broad and there’s too much material under each one, you may want to separate them so you can be more particular with your research.

In your reflexivity journal, please explain how you comprehended the themes, how they’re backed by evidence, and how they connect with your codes. You should also evaluate your research questions to ensure the facts and topics you’ve uncovered are relevant.

Finalize Themes

Your analysis will take shape now after reviewing and refining your themes, labeling, and finishing them. Just because you’ve moved on doesn’t mean you can’t edit or rethink your topics. Finalizing your themes requires explaining them in-depth, unlike the previous phase. Whether you have trouble, check your data and code to see if they reflect the themes and whenever you need to split them into multiple pieces.

Make sure your theme name appropriately describes its features.

Ensure your themes match your research questions at this point. When refining, you’re reaching the end of your analysis. You must remember that your final report (covered in the following phase) must meet your research’s goals and objectives.

In your reflexivity journal, explain how you choose your topics. Mention how the theme will affect your research results and what it implies for your research questions and emphasis.

By the conclusion of this stage, you’ll have finished your topics and be able to write a report.

Report writing

At this stage, you are nearly done! Now that you’ve examined your data write a report. A thematic analysis report includes:

  • A starting
  • An approach
  • The results
  • Outcome

When drafting your report, provide enough details for a client to assess your findings. In other words, the viewer wants to know how you analyzed the data and why. “What”, “how”, “why”, “who”, and “when” are helpful here.

So, what did you find? What did you do? How did you choose this method? Who are your research’s focus and participants? When were your studies, data collection, and data production? Your reflexivity notebook will help you name, explain, and support your topics.

While writing up your results, you must identify every single one. The reader needs to be able to verify your findings. Make sure to relate your results to your research questions when reporting them. You don’t want your client to wonder about your results, so make sure they’re related to your subject and queries.

Conclusion

Because it is easy to apply, thematic analysis is well suited for beginner researchers unfamiliar with more complicated kinds of qualitative research. It permits the researcher to choose a theoretical framework with freedom.

The versatility of thematic analysis enables you to describe your data in a rich, intricate, and sophisticated way. This technique may be utilized with whatever theory the researcher chooses, unlike other methods of analysis that are firmly bound to certain approaches. These steps can be followed to master proper thematic analysis for research.

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