Identifying Themes and Patterns
Qualitative data analysis can be quite complex and time-consuming. Whether the research design
is descriptive or uses a specific qualitative methodology such as phenomenology; the researcher
will need to consider all the data that is generated from data gathering. Most qualitative data are
gathered from interviews and the results examined for themes and patterns
Qualitative Data Analysis Tools
Because data analysis in qualitative research is such a tedious and time-consuming process;
various electronic software programs have been created to support the swift and detailed analysis
of large amounts of narrative data.
Identifying Themes and Patterns/Qualitative Data Analysis Tools
The data collection methods that are used in qualitative research results to ideas that can
be comprehended better under the thematic analysis control. This encompasses a focus on the
identifiable patterns and themes of behavior or way of life. The first step should involve data
collection. Audiotapes should also be used. Using the transcribed conversations, experiences’
patterns can be listed. This emerges from paraphrasing common ideas. After this, all the data that
is connected to already classified patterns should be identified. The identified patterns are then
elaborated on (Tracy, 2013). All ideas related to a specific pattern are identified and put together
IDENTIFYING THEMES AND PATTERNS/QUALITATIVE DATA ANALYSIS TOOLS 2
with corresponding patterns. The related patterns are then combined and catalogued into sub-
themes. Themes are then identified through bringing fragments or components of experiences or
ideas together, that are normally meaningless if viewed personally. Themes and patterns arising
from the stories of the informants are put together to create a detailed picture of the collective
experience. As researchers gather sub-themes to gain detailed information view, he can easily
see patterns emerging (Tracy, 2013).
When patterns emerge, the best thing the researcher should do is obtaining feedback from
informants regarding the patterns. This may be accomplished as the interview is going on or by
asking for feedback from the informants from transcribed conversations. Using the former, the
researcher utilizes the feedback from the informants to establish the subsequent interview
questions (Ryan, Coughlan & Cronin, 2007). Using the latter, the researcher transcribes the
session or interview, and asks the participants to offer feedback which is then included in the
theme analysis. The researcher then builds valid arguments through choosing the themes. It is
necessary for the researcher to refer to the literature again so as to make inferences. This permits
formulation of theme statements and development of a story line.
In the qualitative study, ten semi-structured interviews were carried out. All these were
audiotaped. Moreover, field notes were taken. The interviews were also transcribed verbatim and
recordings were compared with transcriptions so as to promote accuracy and comprehensiveness
when identifying themes and patterns. The participants were also given transcript copies for
review so as to promote accuracy (Braun & Clarke, 2013). Following review, the participants
had a chance to meet with the researchers for clarification of any issues that seemed vital.
Interpretations were made regarding why nurses left the nursing practice. The researcher also
used hermeneutics that permitted him to probe further into contextual meanings available in the
IDENTIFYING THEMES AND PATTERNS/QUALITATIVE DATA ANALYSIS TOOLS 3
interviews. Research colleagues shared interpretive analysis as a measure of promoting proper
interpretation. As analysis was going on, major themes and ideas were identified. Like themes
were paired and recorded accordingly, while supporting documentation was coded. Themes were
also identified from the transcripts. If a new theme was identified, the previous transcripts
underwent rereading to see if this theme had already been identified in the previous interviews.
The research team was keen on identifying all possible meanings related to the theme so as to
promote a thorough analysis (MacKusick & Minick, 2010).
IDENTIFYING THEMES AND PATTERNS/QUALITATIVE DATA ANALYSIS TOOLS 4
Braun, V., & Clarke, V. (2013). Successful qualitative research: A practical guide for beginners.
MacKusick, C. I., & Minick, P. (2010). Why Are Nurses Leaving? Findings from an Initial
Qualitative Study on Nursing Attrition. MEDSURG Nursing, 19(6), 335- 340.
Ryan, F., Coughlan, M., & Cronin, P. (2007). Step-by-step guide to critiquing research. Part 2:
qualitative research. British Journal Of Nursing (BJN), 16(12), 738–744.
Tracy, S. J. (2013). Qualitative research methods: Collecting evidence, crafting analysis,
communicating impact. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.