Thematic Analysis

Qualitative Methodology

Thematic Analysis is a flexible data analysis plan that qualitative researchers use to generate themes from interview data. This approach is flexible in that there is no specific research design associated with thematic analysis; it can be utilized for case studies, phenomenology, generic qualitative, and narrative inquiry to name a few. This data analysis plan is perfect for both novice and expert qualitative researchers because the steps are easy to follow but rigorous enough to generate meaningful findings from the data. According to Braun and Clarke (2013), there are six phases of Thematic Analysis.

request a consultation

Discover How We Assist to Edit Your Dissertation Chapters

Aligning theoretical framework, gathering articles, synthesizing gaps, articulating a clear methodology and data plan, and writing about the theoretical and practical implications of your research are part of our comprehensive dissertation editing services.

  • Bring dissertation editing expertise to chapters 1-5 in timely manner.
  • Track all changes, then work with you to bring about scholarly writing.
  • Ongoing support to address committee feedback, reducing revisions.
  1. Familiarization: This is the process of becoming familiar with the data through reading and re-reading interview transcripts. If a qualitative researcher decides to transcribe the data himself or herself, then the process of transcription will familiarize the qualitative researcher with the data. The purpose of this step is to get the qualitative researcher engaged with the data and begin thinking about prevalent topics discussed by participants. Qualitative researchers can note these prevalent topics on a sheet of paper as they read or transcribe the data. These notes can help when moving into the second phase of Thematic Analysis.
  2. Generating the initial codes: After a qualitative researcher has become familiar with the data, he or she will begin coding the data. Often a computer-assisted qualitative data analysis software (CAQDAS) will help the qualitative researcher organize and manage the data analysis. One popular CAQDAS is called NVivo. A qualitative researcher may utilize NVivo to isolate phrases, sentences, and paragraphs that talk about a meaningful topic. These isolated phrases, sentences, and paragraphs will be labeled by the meaningful topic. The process of coding continues for every transcript until each interview transcript has been coded. This will leave the qualitative researcher with a list of generated codes.
  3. Create the initial themes: Once the transcripts have been coded, the qualitative researcher takes the list of codes and begins to cluster codes together that have similar meanings or have a relationship to one another. After the codes have been clustered together, the qualitative researcher labels the clusters based on the meaning or relationships shared among the codes. Then the qualitative researcher examines the clusters to see if there are any additional relationships between the clusters themselves. If there are, the qualitative researcher clusters the two or more clusters together and provides another preliminary label with the relationship. The labels form the themes. This process continues until there is no further assembling, reassembling, or clustering possible.
  4. Review the initial themes: The qualitative researcher takes the themes and begins to review them against the data. This process makes sure the themes capture the meaningful aspects of the data without missing any important details. Once the themes are confirmed to represent the data, the qualitative researcher moves onto the fifth phase of Thematic Analysis.
  5. Name and define the themes: This process involves utilizing the labels created for the theme and providing a comprehensive name that describes the relationship or meaning conveyed in the theme. Once this is completed, the qualitative researcher defines the theme according to the content and meaning of the codes. This definition summarizes the content of what is discussed within the theme.
  6. Write the final report: After the themes are defined and named, the qualitative researcher begins to write up the final report. The qualitative researcher presents the findings and interpretation of the data during this phase.

Thematic Analysis can generate significant findings for qualitative researchers who have little to no experience with qualitative analysis. As a result, Thematic Analysis is a popular choice for novice researchers and students.


Braun, V., & Clarke, V. (2013). Successful qualitative research: A practical guide for beginners. Sage.