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Thematic Analysis - a Method for Deeper Insights

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Thematic Analysis - a Method for Deeper Insights

Thematic analysis is a method used to analyze qualitative data. It involves coding and sorting data to find patterns and themes. This method can be especially useful when writing a thesis or working with qualitative research. In this article, we will explore how to use thematic analysis, for example, when writing a bachelor's thesis.

Inductive vs. Deductive Approach

There are two main approaches to thematic analysis: inductive and deductive. Inductive analysis means entering an investigation without preconceived notions and letting the data speak for itself. The deductive approach is the opposite, starting the analysis with a clear framework for interpretation.

In a bachelor's thesis, an inductive analysis is often recommended. This means you should not have any preconceived notions or theories when analyzing your data. Instead, you should be inspired by what you find in the data and draw conclusions from it.

How to Perform a Thematic Analysis

To perform a thematic analysis, you start by coding your data. This means you must first have access to a text for analysis, such as an interview transcript, an article, or a collection of social media messages. Once you have chosen your text, read through it and highlight the relevant text segments. These could be a sentence or a longer passage that seems to contain valuable information for the analysis.

After marking the relevant text segments, you assign a brief label or code that summarizes what is interesting about that segment. For example, the code "ABC" for a segment about "Reading difficulties for children." By coding the text this way, you create an overview of the themes that are repeated and seem important to the text.

Once all material is coded, proceed to the sorting stage. Here, you sort and categorize the different codes. This might involve placing all codes related to "Reading difficulties for children" in one category and comparing it with other categories related to "Reading difficulties" but not related to children.

The largest and most relevant categories eventually become themes. In the example above, "Reading difficulties for children" could be a theme that becomes particularly clear and interesting if it is often repeated in the text. By coding and sorting data in this way, you can gain a better understanding of the important themes in the text and how they relate to each other.

Tips for Describing Your Thematic Analysis

When describing your thematic analysis in the methodology section of a thesis, be very specific and clear. Describe exactly how you conducted the analysis, including detailed and concrete details.

Here is an example of how to describe a thematic analysis in a methodology section:

"In this thesis, a thematic analysis was used to explore themes in the interview material. To conduct this analysis, I started by coding the qualitative material, namely the transcribed interviews. First, I read through the material and then highlighted various sentences and paragraphs relevant to my investigation with a highlighter. I made notes in the margins of the documents to remember what was relevant for my purpose in the sentences and paragraphs.

Afterward, I sorted the coded segments into categories based on their content. By comparing and grouping codes with similar content, I was able to identify overarching themes in the material. Through iteratively sorting and grouping codes, I gradually developed these themes into more detailed and comprehensive descriptions of the issues and phenomena being investigated."

Transcribing Your Interview

It can be useful to transcribe an interview when conducting a thematic analysis, as it allows for detailed coding and analysis of the qualitative material. Transcribing the interview gives you access to the exact words and sentences used by the interviewee, which can help you identify patterns and themes in your material. Additionally, transcription can make it easier to sort and categorize codes, as you have a more structured and clear basis to work from. Finally, transcription can help you notice and interpret different aspects of the interviewee's tone, emphasis, and other non-verbal ways of communication, which can be valuable when trying to understand deeper meanings and nuances in your material.

You can use tools like Klang.ai to automatically transcribe and summarize your interviews.

Presenting the Results of a Thematic Analysis

When presenting the results of a thematic analysis, do so in a manner similar to how you would present other types of qualitative results in a results section. Start with a very brief paragraph that provides an overview of what will be presented. Then, follow with the different themes, each theme in its own subsection, and each subsection should have its own heading formulated roughly as a statement.


In this article, we have received a detailed walkthrough of what thematic analysis is and how to proceed to conduct one. A thematic analysis is a method for analyzing qualitative data by coding and sorting text material. There are different ways to conduct a thematic analysis, depending on whether you want a structured or unstructured process.

By first qualitatively coding the material, by marking relevant text segments and finding a brief label or code for it, and then sorting the codes into piles based on what they relate to, you can identify the largest and most relevant.

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