After collecting qualitative data from in-depth interviews, focus groups, or field observations, students and researchers often struggle to make sense of it. This step-by-step guide draws on the authors' many years of experience carrying out qualitative research and conducting trainings on the subject. Their book describes how to analyze qualitative data in a systematic and rigorous way. The authors introduce and outline applied thematic analysis, an inductive approach that draws on established and innovative theme-based techniques suited to the applied research context. Chapters follow the sequence of activities in the analysis process and also include discussions of mixed methods, choosing the most appropriate software, and how to write up and present the results.

“This book presents what all of the books I've tried to use in the past have failed to present—how to analyze qualitative data.”—Catherine C. Schifter, Temple University

“This book does a wonderful job of explaining how important thematic analysis is for producing good research, and it uses rich and detailed examples to do it.”—Matthew Hartley, University of Pennsylvania

Planning and Preparing the Analysis

Learning Objectives

After reading this chapter, you should know how to:

  • Establish an analytic objective
  • Develop an analysis plan
  • Choose an appropriate analytic approach
  • Define appropriate boundaries for the analysis

When working with text data there is one essential, basic analytic technique: reading the text. A targeted, goal-driven analysis requires additional steps. The larger the analytic task, the greater the amount of text to be analyzed, or the more analysts whose work must be coordinated, the more important it is to develop an analysis plan before the text is read and preferably before the data are collected. A good number of books describe how to conduct a particular type of qualitative data analysis, but very little attention is given in the literature to the planning phase. ...

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