What is Thematic Analysis?
Thematic analysis is considered analysis of significant themes and patterns. It entails the separation of themes within an index of information and the identification of their relevance. However, since this process is based on research questions, the main point is not to distinguish all possible themes from the information, instead, it is mainly used to process the fundamental concerns and perspectives which correspond to the study problem and objectives. It is important to emphasise that even if you start your research with research questions, they may not remain constant. Indeed, the exploration of topics is generally a detailed empirical analysis, so your main research objectives will progress further towards findings when you code and identify themes.
When to use Thematic Analysis?
There are several ways to break down a large amount of information. Thematic analysis can be very useful when dealing with large amounts of information. This is because when you separate and organise a lot of information, it is much easier to process it. This type of analysis is significantly valuable if your goal is to get demonstrative primary findings, in form of personal views through interviewing the members. It is therefore usually based on information from research, online media articles, conferences and discussions. Depending on the question, you can decide whether you want to do a thematic analysis or not. In other words, thematic analysis is a suitable tool for decision-making if you need to sort through a large amount of information (although the information does not have to be huge) or if you are particularly interested in the subject of the topic-related to subjective aspects.
Main Approaches to Thematic Analysis
In this type of approach, themes are created by deducing the meaning of the information without using assumptions. In other words, one immerses oneself in the analysis without thinking about which themes will emerge and lets themes emerge that are not determined by the information.
The deductive approach, as opposed to the inductive approach, is to dive into the explanation through developing themes to identify the main concerns and information in regards to the research questions. Usually, this approach is based on previous information, potential research and even existing hypotheses (which we will cover in the paper).
This type of approach disregards the basic importance of the information, and the subject’s perception depends on what is represented and what is constructed, all of which is completely reliable. This approach is usually adopted in the study of feelings and perspectives. This is done as they are part of the general familiarity of data.
The latent approach works opposite to the semantic approach as it is mainly concerned with the connotations instead of examining the explanations behind the main idea. Furthermore, it also includes aspects of reliable understanding of the data, whereby we do not just rely on the full information, but also infuse its theorised implications.
What are the Types of Thematic Analysis?
- Coding Reliability Thematic Analysis
In this type of thematic analysis, we require the production of several codebooks, the planning of which is explicitly planned by the research team. In this type of analysis, the codebook is generally fixed and is changed only occasionally, unless the codes adapt to the information. From coding reliability analysis, we could achieve inter-coder consistency, which means that the coder has to agree with the code used and the results are more thorough, the reason is that it reduces the subjective aspects of the data. In this way, several codes help to identify and discuss which code to use and which not to, and this agreement reduces the tendency of a single coder to choose an argument.
- Codebook Thematic Analysis
Thematic analysis using codebooks is usually based on a deductive view, as it uses organised codebooks and predetermined codes. The review of data is usually in this type of thematic analysis are derived codes and the codebook is delivered at that time. Thematic analysis with codebooks usually uses a deductive coding approach and the codebook is produced by at least one researcher.
- Reflexive Thematic Analysis
This type of thematic analysis usually does not require a codebook or code description points). Thematic analysis is the most adaptable amongst the other thematic types. It allows the researcher to change, delete or add to the code while working with the information. Reflexive thematic analysis can be done by more than one researcher or by one person. In case if you have several authors, reflexive thematic analysis allows you to code once and process the coding collaboratively as every author does need to code in a separate individual manner.
How to Conduct Thematic Analysis?
- Familiarising yourself with the data
In the initial phase, you are required to familiarise yourself with the data and plan the themes accordingly. In case if the data is in form of audio or video recording then you are required to do the same by listening and understanding the messages recorded in the audio or video.
This is where you have to do some basic thinking about what you want to code, what code you want to use for it and what code exactly describes your content. During this phase, we create the codes that are important for the cleaned-up information and display the codes that match the results and common data types.
During this stage, we need to pay particular attention to code patterns and themes. The transition from code to a theme is not exactly a smooth and straightforward process. As you become more familiar with the information, you may have to create more codes and themes based on identified elements.
- Review and decide on a theme
Now is a good time to explore each of the themes you have identified. At this stage, you need to make sure that what you have ordered as themes fits the information, that the themes are present in the information, that no themes are missing and that you have coded each theme accurately and completely so that you can move on to the next stage. Also, if the topics are too extensive and there is a lot of data in one topic, it is advisable to divide the topics so that they can be analysed more clearly.
When you are ready for this stage, you have completed the relevant part of the thematic process, so this is the perfect opportunity to review your results and write a report. When writing your report, make sure you provide enough data so that the user can judge the completeness of your analysis. As a result, they need to know what process you used to break down the evidence and for what reasons.