Mark Alexander Williams


by Mark Williams

Braun and Clarke (2006) define thematic analysis as “A method for identifying, analyzing and reporting patterns within data.” (p. 79). It is a recommended approach for those new to qualitative research and one that is "accessible and theoretically-flexible". Particularly as the study forms part of a one year MA, thematic analysis is relatively easy to understand and quick to apply.


Data Corpus - The entire body of data collected as part of the research project
Data Set - The subsection of data from the Corpus that is being used for analysis
Data Item - Any individual piece of data
Data Extract - The coded data extracted from a data item that will appear in the analysis

We must be careful in suggesting, as I did in my last post about 'emerging themes' as this can be "misinterpreted to mean that themes "reside" in the data, and if we just look hard enough they will "emerge‟ like Venus on the half shell. If themes "reside‟ anywhere, they reside in our heads from our thinking about our data and creating links as we understand them." (Ely, Vinz, Downing, & Anzul, 1997: 205-6)

Themes may not necessarily be evident through quantity and their 'keyness' may be in reference to whether they impact on the research question.

Inductive analysis is data driven, it may not fit into a predetermined framework and ignores any preconceptions of the the researcher. Instead it attempts to determine themes from the data; a bottom up approach.

Deductive or theoretical analysis is driven by the researchers interest; a top down approach and "tends to provide less a rich description of the data overall, and more a detailed analysis of some aspect of the data."(Braun and Clarke,2006).

Phases of thematic analysis

Braun, V. & Clarke, V. (2006). Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 3, 77-101.

ANZUL, Margaret, Maryann DOWNING, Margot ELY and Ruth VINZ. 1997. On writing qualitative research: Living by words. Taylor & Francis