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

Comparing Thematic Data

Learning Objectives

Upon finishing this chapter, readers should be able to:

  • Describe qualitative methods of comparing thematic data
  • Describe quantitative methods of comparing thematic data
  • Use several graphical techniques for visualizing comparisons

Comparison is a cornerstone of much social and behavioral research as well as qualitative inquiry (Mills, 2008). Whether attempting to discern similarities and differences across groups of individuals, within groups over two or more data collection time points, or across different data types, comparisons are fundamental to the data analysis process and presentation of findings. In experimental or quasi-experimental research, comparison is factored into the study design. In quantitative observational studies, comparison of groups along key demographic and other variables of interest is standard practice. In qualitative research, especially that in which inductive thematic analysis ...

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