Thematic analysis is a qualitative method that is appropriate when working in research teams as well as when analyzing huge qualitative data sets. It is a method used to categorize, analyze, consolidate, define, and report themes established within a data set (Braun and Clarke 2006). Conducting thematic analysis involves six key steps. The steps involve acquainting oneself with the data, followed by generation of initial codes, and then soliciting for themes. The themes are then reviewed, defined, named and the report produced.
The greatest strength of thematic analysis is its theoretical freedom, which enables it offer a very flexible approach that can be adjusted for the needs of numerous studies, giving a rich and comprehensive, yet complex account of data (Braun and Clarke 2006). Additionally, the method provides a more accessible system of analysis, especially in early periods of research careers. As such, researchers who are comparatively unacquainted with qualitative methods may find it easy to grasp thematic analysis, since there are few procedures and prescriptions (Braun and Clarke 2006). What is more, thematic analysis is convenient in summarizing main features of large data set, since it compels the researcher to assume a well-structured method to handling data, thereby producing a clear and systematized final report.
Despite the numerous advantages of using thematic analysis, there are some disadvantages of using the method, particularly when considered with respect to other qualitative research methods. To begin with, novice researchers may feel uncertain of how to carry out a rigorous thematic analysis as it lacks substantial literature, in comparison to ethnography, grounded theory, and phenomenology (Braun and Clarke 2006). Moreover, when compared to other qualitative research methods, a simple thematic analysis is lacking, since it does not permit researchers to make claims on language use. Although thematic analysis is flexible, the flexibility can cause lack of coherence and discrepancy when analyzing themes obtained from the research data.
Braun, V. and Clarke, V., (2006). Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative research in psychology, 3(2), pp.77-101.