Using thematic analysis in sport and exercise research

Authored by: Virginia Braun , Victoria Clarke , Paul Weate

Routledge Handbook of Qualitative Research in Sport and Exercise

Print publication date:  September  2016
Online publication date:  September  2016

Print ISBN: 9781138792487
eBook ISBN: 9781315762012
Adobe ISBN: 9781317646914

10.4324/9781315762012.ch15

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Abstract

Thematic analysis (TA) is one of a cluster of analytic approaches you can use, if you want to identify patterns of meaning across a qualitative dataset. The widely used version of TA we outline in this chapter is fairly unique in the canon of qualitative analytic approaches in that it just offers the researcher analytic tools to make sense of data. It is not tied to a particular theoretical framework, and it does not come with methodological stipulations about, for example, how to sample, or collect data. This gives the researcher great flexibility in how they use TA. Alongside the fact that TA is a relatively accessible qualitative analytic technique, these features make it an excellent and robust method for beginner qualitative researchers, for those wishing to do fairly descriptive work, for those working in teams across disciplinary contexts, or with researchers of mixed (qualitative) experience, and for those wanting to produce research for public consumption (e.g., policy- or practice-oriented research). That said TA also provides a tool that offers the potential for nuanced, complex, interpretative analysis. After introducing TA, and explaining why and when you might use it, we provide a detailed discussion of how you do TA, illustrated with examples from Paul’s focus-group study exploring women’s perspectives on, and experiences of, exercise.

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