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Approaches to thematic analysis: Becoming a knowing researcher

Braun, Virginia; Clarke, Victoria


Virginia Braun

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Dr Victoria Clarke
Associate Professor in Qualitative & Critical Psychology


E. Rees

A. Ledger

K. Walker


Thematic analysis is a common choice for analysing qualitative data, involving processes of coding and theme development to generate understanding around patterned meaning. It is typically understood as an analytic method (a theoretically flexible tool or technique for analysis), rather than an analytic methodology, such as discourse analysis, which comes with an inbuilt theoretical framework [see 1]. However, these apparently straightforward descriptions conceal complexity. Thematic analysis is not a method (singular) so much as a group of methods, which share some aspects, but can diverge significantly in procedure and philosophy. Certain iterations of thematic analysis are aligned with different research values or ‘paradigms’ (the belief systems that shape your research design decisions, see Chapter 3). Understanding these paradigmatic differences is crucial for making appropriate decisions in research using thematic analysis. This chapter aims to explain different approaches for clinical education researchers, who are likely to encounter very different examples and explanations of thematic analysis across disciplines and publications. This chapter offers a framework for understanding these differences, so that you can make informed decisions in your own projects and achieve alignment between your stated paradigm and analytic methods. For further practical guidance, please see our book [1].


Braun, V., & Clarke, V. (2023). Approaches to thematic analysis: Becoming a knowing researcher. In E. Rees, A. Ledger, & K. Walker (Eds.), Starting Research in Clinical Education. Wiley

Acceptance Date Dec 7, 2022
Online Publication Date Oct 31, 2023
Publication Date Oct 31, 2023
Deposit Date Feb 6, 2023
Publicly Available Date Nov 1, 2024
Publisher Wiley
Book Title Starting Research in Clinical Education
Chapter Number 18
ISBN 9781119861980
Keywords Clinical Education; thematic analysis
Public URL
Publisher URL


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