Thematic Analysis

Thematic analysis is a method used to organize, classify, and discover connections between ideas generated from brainstorming or research by sorting them into categories based on common characteristics and themes.


Thematic Analysis is a qualitative research method that identifies, analyzes, and interprets patterns or themes within data. By coding and categorizing information, researchers uncover insights into underlying meanings, beliefs, and values. Thematic Analysis is used in social sciences, user research, and content analysis, where understanding complex phenomena, human experiences, and cultural dynamics guides theory building, design insights, and interpretive understanding.

Suitable for

  • organizing ideas generated from brainstorming,
  • organizing data from qualitative and quantitative research,
  • discovering connections between individual pieces of information.


Research Plan

A document outlining the objectives, scope, methodology, and timeline for conducting the thematic analysis. It helps to ensure that the research team is aligned and has a clear understanding of the study's goals.

Interview Guide

A list of prepared questions and prompts designed to help the researcher engage participants in a meaningful conversation about the topic at hand. These guides may be adapted or revised as needed throughout the data collection process.


Written or typed records of each interview, focus group, or observation conducted during the study. Transcripts should capture all dialogue and relevant non-verbal cues from participants to provide a comprehensive account of the data for analysis.


A systematic organization of codes, themes, and sub-themes that emerge throughout the data analysis process. Codebooks provide a structured way to manage, categorize, and develop insights from raw data.

Coding Matrix

A visual representation of the codes and themes identified in the data that allows the researcher to see patterns, relationships, and gaps between different concepts. The coding matrix can help establish connections and inform the final thematic structure.

Thematic Map

A visual representation of the main themes and their relationships within the data. Thematic maps help to visualize the structure of the findings and can be used to communicate the results to stakeholders in a clear, accessible format.

Analysis Report

A comprehensive document that details the findings of the thematic analysis, including the main themes, sub-themes, and patterns observed in the data. The report should provide context, interpretation, and implications for the intended audience and may include recommendations for next steps or future research.

Findings Presentation

A presentation that summarizes key findings and insights, visually presents the thematic map, and recommends actionable steps based on the research results. The presentation is tailored to the target audience – whether it be internal teams, stakeholders, or clients – and may include interactive elements to facilitate discussion and collaboration.

Participant Quotes

A compilation of representative quotes from participants that support the themes identified in the analysis. These quotes help to provide evidence, add context, and bring a human voice to the findings, making them more relatable and impactful for stakeholders.

Methodological Reflections

A document reflecting on the research process, challenges encountered, and lessons learned during the study. This can help inform future research projects and improve the overall quality of user experience research within the organization.



1. Data Familiarization

Begin by thoroughly reading and immersing yourself in the data to become familiar with the content. This can include reading transcripts, watching videos, or going through notes multiple times. This step helps in understanding the participants' perspectives, their experiences, and the context surrounding their statements.


2. Generating Initial Codes

Systematically work through the data and generate descriptive codes, labels or tags to define key features or ideas found in the dataset. The codes should be brief, accurate, and energetically descriptive. This process is iterative and should remain flexible as you move through the data, as new insights may require revising or creating new codes.


3. Searching for Themes

Start analyzing the codes and look for potential patterns or relationships that can combine them into larger themes. Themes can be more abstract in nature than codes, capturing concepts or ideas underlying the data. At this stage, you can use visual tools like mind-maps or diagrams to help explore connections and potential thematic structures.


4. Reviewing Themes

Review your identified themes and make sure they accurately represent the data. This includes checking if there are any discrepancies or inconsistencies within the themes, and whether any refinements, merging, or splitting of themes are necessary. Additionally, some themes may be discarded if they do not contribute to the overall understanding of the research topic.


5. Defining and Naming Themes

Further refine and develop a clear definition and name for each theme. This should describe the core essence of what the theme represents and the aspects of the data it covers. A well-defined theme should be able to explain the overall research question and tell the story of the data.


6. Report Writing

Write a detailed report that represents the findings of the thematic analysis. This includes a thorough description of each theme, evidence from the data, and quotes or examples to support your claims. Ensure your report is coherent, logical, and clearly communicates the findings to the reader. Tie your themes back to the research question and provide any relevant insights for your research objectives.

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