Unraveling The Thematic Analysis Approach

Unraveling The Thematic Analysis Approach

Thematic analysis is a popular qualitative research method that identifies data patterns, themes, and meanings in data. It is commonly employed to look into people’s experiences, beliefs, and perspectives in fields such as psychology, sociology, and anthropology.

This blog will thoroughly introduce thematic analysis, including its definition and benefits. We will also go over how to conduct the analysis step by step. 

Moreover, we will examine thematic analysis’s versatility and relevance in qualitative and quantitative research. By the article’s conclusion, you will have a firm grasp of the basics of thematic analysis and how it may be used to strengthen qualitative studies.

Let’s Understand The Basics

You can easily get dazed and ruffled with information when you take a large chunk of data consisting of themes like transcripts, survey responses, social media profiles, etc. 

Depending on the study you conducted, your disposition might resemble that of a researcher. Alternatively, you might be a market researcher seeking a customer base to start your startup. 

Now, the only thing that can lead to such an appropriate data diagnosis is the luxury of clarity. One must be able to work their way through the data set and come up with a suitable narrative by the end of it. 

However, an extremely efficient but taxing way to get the job done is through Thematic Analysis Process. 


Thematic analysis is a data analysis process that entails combing through collected data, classifying, methodically formatting, deriving themes, and developing a narrative. To gain insight into the research question, you code data to identify recurring patterns, group the codes into themes, and interpret the themes. 

Use Cases

Identifying and analyzing themes in data is especially useful when studying people’s experiences, beliefs, and perspectives. Moreover, this analysis has practical applications in many areas of research. 

For example, researchers can use thematic analysis to examine the experiences of individuals with mental health issues or explore the attitudes and beliefs of healthcare professionals. As well as analyzing media coverage of social issues, it can be used to identify trends.

RELATED: Mastering Strategic Analysis: Types and Use Explained

Why Do We Need Thematic Analysis?

  • Firstly, thematic analysis is a popular qualitative research method used to identify and analyze patterns, themes, and meanings within data.
  • Moreover, thematic analysis can be applied in both quantitative and qualitative research.
  • This qualitative coding is a relatively straightforward and intuitive method, making it accessible to novice researchers.
  • Also, the coding process of content analysis allows for a detailed examination of the data, enabling researchers to identify nuances and variations within the themes and codes.
  • Lastly, thematic analysis in research can be combined with other methods of identifying themes to provide a more comprehensive understanding.

So How To Perform A Thematic Analysis?

There are myriad ways to conduct a thematic analysis quantitative/qualitative research. One of the most commonly used methods has been devised by the psychologist duo Virginia Braun and Victoria Clarke in their book Thematic Analysis: A Practical Guide.” 

Virginia Braun and Victoria Clarke book "Thematic Analysis: A Practical Guide."

The book by Virginia Braun and Victoria Clarke is a comprehensive guide to conducting thematic analysis in qualitative research. The book offers a step-by-step approach to conducting thematic analysis, providing detailed guidance on each stage of the process, from familiarizing oneself with the data to writing up the findings.

The following steps outline their method:

Step 1Familiarize yourself with your dataRead through your data (e.g., transcripts, interview responses, etc.) to gain a sense of its content and identify potential themes.
Step 2Generate initial codesIdentify key concepts, ideas, and phrases in the data and label them with codes.
Step 3Search for themesLook for patterns and connections between codes and group them into larger categories or themes.
Step 4Review themesCheck if the themes you identified are meaningful, accurate, and coherent representations of the data.
Step 5Define and name themesDescribe each theme and assign a clear and concise name that captures its essence.
Step 6Write a reportSummarize your analysis, including the themes and how they relate to your research questions.

IMPORTANT: It should be noted that thematic analysis is a flexible approach, and the steps outlined above are not necessarily sequential. Going back and forth between stages and making revisions as needed may be part of the process. Furthermore, Braun and Clarke advocate for researchers to engage in reflexivity throughout the process, recognizing their own biases and assumptions and how they may influence the analysis.

ALSO READ: Sampling Bias: A Threat to Accurate Analysis

Thematic Analysis in Phenomenological Research

Another such major field where thematic analysis can be put to use is the phenomenological research area. Thematic analysis in phenomenological research can be used to identify and explore the lived experiences of individuals or groups. 

Phenomenological research seeks to understand how people experience and interpret the world around them, and thematic analysis can be a useful tool for identifying common themes and patterns in these experiences.

ALSO READ: How to Conduct an Effective Audience Analysis for Better Communication


Undoubtedly, thematic analysis can make a data set churn out in an elegant and easy-to-grasp manner. However, this thematic coding can be an iterative process, and several back-and-forths might be necessary. Consequently, reviews and revisions will be a constant part of the journey. 

Although the approach is straightforward and intuitive, it could still take several attempts to get hold of the method. Complexity and confusion associated with many themes and codes are the primary reasons. 

Whatever themes are derived, do not worry about dropping excerpts that may not provide a sound conclusion. The boundaries of each theme must be adjustable enough to support the larger meaning. After all, clarity is king when it comes to an effective thematic analysis. 

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