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How To Do A Thematic Analysis Of User Interviews

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What Are The Advantages And Disadvantages Of Thematic Analysis

Thematic Analysis of Qualitative User Research Data

Read our description of thematic analysis advantages and disadvantages.

Advantages of Thematic Analysis

Thematic analysis is a flexible approach to qualitative analysis that enables researchers to generate new insights and concepts derived from data. One of many benefits of thematic analysis is that novice researchers who are just learning how to analyze qualitative data will find thematic analysis an accessible approach.

Disadvantages of Thematic Analysis

Because thematic analysis is such a flexible approach, it means that there are many different ways to interpret meaning from the data set. It can feel intimidating to interpret what data is or isnt important to emphasize. Furthermore, since thematic analysis focuses on looking for patterns across interviews, phenomena that occur in only one individual account can be overlooked. Additionally, a limitation of thematic analysis is that you dont use existing theoretical frameworks, which could limit the interpretive power of your analysis.

Report On The Data Collected From The Interviews

A qualitative data analysis requires a group assessment of participants responses. A comparative and discourse approach, therefore, is one of the most productive ways to define connotations of the answers and analyze which ideas are communicated in the speech . More importantly, a multi-dimensional approach should be used to provide a complete evaluation of qualitative information . In this respect, using specific software can greatly contribute to retrieving as much thematic nodes as possible. According to Rabiee , the main goal of interviews is to to understand, and explain, the meanings, beliefs ad cultures that influence the feelings, attitudes, and behaviors of individuals . In this respect, the interview data under analysis reveals differences in attitudes to certain aspects of roles and responsibilities imposed on the participants.

While conducting the interview, the participants were asked questions separately so that no one buy interviewer and interviewee can hear the response. Therefore, it was possible to provide a more objective evaluation of the answers and define explicit thematic concerns. However, synergy and group interaction could have revealed some other important aspects, which could have influenced further discussion. For instance, listening to others participants can define whether the interviewees were affected by others opinions.

Interviews Vs Usability Tests

Some researchers confuse the user-interview method with the usability-testing method. While the methods do have some commonalities and a user-testing session may include an interview at the end, the differences are many and important. Some of these differences are summarized in the table below.

Differences Between User Interviews and Usability Tests

Whether people would use a design



Note that neither user interviews nor usability tests are guaranteed to tell you whether people will actually use a design. Asking users Would you use this? prompts them to rationalize their answer and potentially ignore certain aspects of the reality that are likely to affect their behavior but may go against their response. And a usability test encourages participants to engage with a design more than they might normally do in doing so, they may discover features or qualities that can ultimately affect their willingness to use the design.

A word of advice: dont choose to do an interview just because you dont know how to do a usability test or because you cant stay silent while a participant uses a design. Almost anyone can do a usability test.

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Braun And Clarkes Reflexive Thematic Analysis

A landmark 2006 paper by Victoria Braun and Victoria Clarke established parameters around thematic analysiswhat it is and how to go about it in a systematic waywhich had until then been widely used but poorly defined.

Since then, their work has been updated, with the name being revised, notably, to reflexive thematic analysis.

One common misconception that Braun and Clarke have taken pains to clarify about their work is that they do not believe that themes emerge from the data. To think otherwise is problematic since this suggests that meaning is somehow inherent to the data and that a researcher is merely an objective medium who identifies that meaning.

Conversely, Braun and Clarke view analysis as an interactive process in which the researcher is an active participant in constructing meaning, rather than simply identifying it.

The six stages they presented in their paper are still the benchmark for conducting a thematic analysis. They are presented below.

Transcribe All The Interviews And Focus Group Recordings

Thematic Interview Analysis.

The next critical step is transcription. Done manually, this is a long and tedious process that can add hours, days or even months to your report writing process. There are dozens of pitfalls when performing transcriptions manually as well, as it can be hard to pick up words spoken in a heavy dialect or quiet tone. You also want to avoid having to transcribe all the umms and ems that occur when a source is speaking naturally.

Rev provides a variety of transcription services that take the tedium and guesswork out of the research process. You can choose to edit out all of the umms, while ensuring that heavy accents or muffled voices are picked up by the recording service.

You can order transcriptions from Rev with both audio and video recordings. Once youve received your professional transcripts from Rev, you can begin your qualitative analysis.

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Familiarize Yourself With Your Data

Thematic analysis is used in many different research fields, but the steps arealways the same, and here we build our detailed description of the steps ona famous article, by qualitative researchers in psychology Virginia Braun andVictoria Clarke, called Using thematic analysis in psychology. We describethe process as you might do it in a business setting so, if you are conductinginterviews for academic purposes, you should look up the original article.

1.FamiliarizationDuring the first phase, you start to familiarize yourself with your data. If youhave audio recordings, its often necessary to perform some form oftranscription, which will allow you to work with your data. In this phase, yougo through all your data from your entire interview and start taking notes,and this is when you start marking preliminary ideas for codes that candescribe your content. This phase is all about getting to know your data.

User Interview Analysis Turning Raw Data Into Insights Effectively

Analyzing user interviews is the most exciting, but also the most messy step whenconducting user research. Its exciting because it can reveal eye-opening insights thathelp to create game-changing products and services. At the same time, its messy becausethere is no standard procedure to follow, no objective measure of progress or success andthe sheer amount of unstructured data can be paralyzing.

This article will show you how to get started and provides concrete tips on how to analyzeuser interviews to uncover valuable insights.

We start off by introducing the goals of interview analysis, sheds light on what goodresults look like and show at what times analysis can take place. The core part is a stepby step approach describing the process of how to analyze user interviews for bestoutcomes. It ends with a list of common mistakes that you can learn from.

  • Convert findings into output
  • Also Check: Design Interview Preparation

    Familiarizing Yourself With Your Data

    Before you can effectively code your data, you must become intimately familiar with it. Immerse yourself in the entire data set by actively reading through it at least once, searching for meanings, possible patterns, etc. Importantly, you should read with an open mind, and not just search for data that support your hypothesis or assumptions. This process of actively reading and re-reading the data is time consuming, but is the foundation for any meaningful interpretation of it.

    Verbal data need to be transcribed in order to be used for thematic analysis. Transcribing data is an excellent way to become familiar with it. The act of transcription should be considered an interpretive act, especially for spontaneous responses . The simple placement of punctuation marks can dramatically alter the meaning of words . If you are provided with data that has already been transcribed, you should check the transcription against the original recording to ensure its accuracy. Listening to the original recording will also improve your understanding of the data.

    As you familiarize yourself with your data, you can start to better focus your research question, and jot down ideas for coding. The process of coding, and improving your codes to better address your research question, will continue through the entire analysis.

    Thematic Analysis Of Interview Data

    How to perform Thematic Analysis of Qualitative Interview data

    The interview under analysis was conducted and three participants have been involved into the study. Six questions focused on defining participants goals, beliefs, and ability to logical thinking. While conducting the interview, similar thematic patterns were defined among the participants. Specifically, while thinking over the most favorite historical or famous figures, all the interviewees chose people who were famous for incredible leadership and decision-making skills. To support the idea, all the participants applied to such words as leader, pioneer, and strong while answering the second questions. While referring to the first questions, attention should be paid to the fact that that all figures contributed to specific spheres, but in the past.

    Closer thematic analysis has revealed the number of interesting remarks about the words used while describing famous people. This is of particular concern to participants attempt to relate their personal achievements with the ones achieved by important historical figures. At this point, much attention should be paid to such words as great, greatest, brilliant, significant, and successful. These words are among the first one uttered by the interviewees. Therefore, it is possible to admit all the participants strived to achieve something great and significant in their life. Overall, the answers allow to provide a deep psychological analysis of interviewees about used words and phrases.

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    Putting Thematic Analysis Into Practice

    How can UX designers put thematic analysis into practice in order to help improve UX?

    The results of a thematic analysis is insight into user needs that will serve as the foundation for human interaction design decisions, product content, information architecture, and usability design.

    Consider a completed thematic analysis with a theme called customization. In this case, users want the ability to customize a specific product and have a high degree of autonomy over its features. Having this knowledge and insight will help UX designers during every stage of the design process. Without it, there is a risk of a failed product design that does not work well for the intended audience.

    How To Analyze Qualitative Data From Ux Research: Thematic Analysis

    Summary: Identifying the main themes in data from user studies such as: interviews, focus groups, diary studies, and field studies is often done through thematic analysis.

    Maria Rosala

    on 2019-09-29 September 29, 2019


    Uncovering themes in qualitative data can be daunting and difficult. Summarizing a quantitative study is relatively clear: you scored 25% better than the competition, lets say. But how do you summarize a collection of qualitative observations?

    In the discovery phase, exploratory research is often carried out. This research often produces a lot of qualitative data, which can include:

    Qualitative attitudinal data, such as peoples thoughts, beliefs and self-reported needs obtained from user interviews, focus groups and even diary studies

    Qualitative behavioral data, such as observations about peoples behavior collected through contextual inquiry and other ethnographic approaches

    Thematic analysis, which anyone can do, renders important aspects of qualitative data visible and makes uncovering themes easier.

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    References & Where To Learn More

    Hero Image: Copyright holder: Nearsoft Inc. Copyright terms and license: CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

    Virginia Braun & Victoria Clarke, Using thematic analysis in psychology, in Qualitative Research in Psychology, Volume 3, 2006

    Ann Blandford, Dominic Furniss and Stephann Makri, Qualitative HCI Research: Going Behind the Scenes, Morgan & Claypool Publishers, 2016

    S To Conduct A Thematic Analysis

    How to Do a Thematic Analysis of User Interviews

    Regardless of which tool you use , the act of conducting a thematic analysis can be broken down into 6 steps.

    A thematic analysis involves 6 different phases: gathering the data, reading all the data from beginning to end, coding the text based on what its about, creating new codes that encapsulate candidate themes, taking a break and coming back to the analysis later, and evaluating your themes for good fit.

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    Convert Findings Into Output

    With the extensive analysis phase finished there comes the point when you ask yourselfwhat to do with all of these insights. The final step is to turn what you learned into atangible output.

    There are two purposes for this:

  • It makes it easier to convey the insights to stakeholders who were not directlyinvolved in the project and also helps them to retain what you found. So think of theoutput as a tool to share findings.
  • It initiates the transition towards putting the insights into action and thereby helpsto move from learning mode to doing mode.
  • The best form of output depends on your initial research questions. Examples forcommonly used outputs are:

    • A prioritized list of pain points and opportunity areas
    • A user journey including highlights and lowlights
    • Jobs to be done
    • User personas

    Before the team parts, make sure to have concrete next steps planned to bring findingsto action. This could be a decision workshop, prototyping session or a design sprint.Also think about how you want to store your data and findings to have them accessiblefor the future. It should be easy for stakeholders to go back and look up certainaspects of the research at any time.

    Inductive Methods Of Analyzing Interview Transcripts

    • A thematic content analysis begins with weeding out biases and establishing your overarching impressions of the data. Rather than approaching your data with a predetermined framework, identify common themes as you search the materials organically. Your goal is to find common patterns across the data set.

    The goal of thematic content analysis is to find common patterns across the data set.

    • A narrative analysis involves making sense of your interview respondents individual stories. Use this type of qualitative data analysis to highlight important aspects of their stories that will best resonate with your readers. And, highlight critical points you have found in other areas of your research.

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    Collect Feedback For Qualitative Research

    There are dozens of ways to gather qualitative data. Recording and accurately transcribing interviews is among the best methods to avoid inaccuracies and data loss. A recording is a highly successful method for customer interviews and focus groups. It allows respondents the freedom to be open in how they respond.

    Researchers should consider this approach over simply taking notes firsthand.

    Recording and transcribing interviews is the best way to collect feedback. Make sure you have a reliable way to record, whether the interview takes place in person, over the phone, or as part of a video call. Depending on the interview method, you may record a video or an audio-only format.

    Each interview method will have its own tools, but calls made from our cell phones are easily recorded with the Rev call recorder app, which is free and easy to use.

    Online video interviews should be recorded in a file format that can be transcribed seamlessly. Most web clients, such as Zoom, have the file formats most used by transcription tools today.

    Qualitative Data Reduction And Organization

    Qualitative coding and thematic analysis in Microsoft Word

    Qualitative data tends to yield a wealth of information, but not all of it is meaningful. As the evaluator, itâs your job to sift through the raw data and find patterns, themes, and stories that are significant in the context of your research question.

    There are two common ways to organize data: thematic analysis and content analysis.

    Thematic analysis groups the data into themes that will help answer the research questions. These themes may be either directly evolved from the research questions and were pre-set before data collection even began, or naturally emerged from the data as or after the study was conducted.

    Content analysis, on the other hand, is a more mathematical organization of long stretches of text that involves coding the data for certain words or content, identifying their patterns, and interpreting their meanings.

    Chances are, youâll find both thematic and content analysis useful, and theyâll likely inform or supplement each other.

    Here are a few ways you can begin your data reduction and organization process:

    Organize Your Data in an Excel Spreadsheet

    Using your research questions as a basis, you should make an excel spreadsheet with your insights to help visually and numerically highlight the problems, themes, and patterns you came across during your study.

    Try Affinity Diagramming

    Four Simple Steps to Affinity Diagramming

  • Post all of the Post-Its on to a wall or whiteboard of some sort.
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    Approaches To Thematic Analysis

    There are different approaches to thematic analysis that a researcher may adopt depending on the purpose of the study.

    Inductive v. Deductive approach: In the inductive approach, the content of the data determines coding and theme development. On the other hand, in the deductive approach, one comes with preconceived concepts or ideas based on existing knowledge or theory which direct coding and theme development.

    Sematic v. Latent approach: In the sematic approach, coding and theme development reflect the explicit content of the data while coding and theme development in the latent approach report concepts and assumptions underpinning the data. For instance, if you are interested in peoples stated opinions, this is the semantic approach. However, if you are interested in what peoples statements reveal about their assumptions and social context, this is the latent approach.

    Realist v. Constructivist approach: In a realist or essentialist approach, analysis is focused on reporting an assumed reality evident in the data. For instance, how are Saudi women represented in American magazines? In a constructionist approach, the data is used to construct a certain reality, e.g. how is race constructed in workplace diversity?

    Please note that the most important aspect of your thematic analysis is that it should be coherent and consistent since the differences between the different approaches are not always that rigid.

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