Question
Asked 9th Jun, 2020

What is the difference between thematic analysis and Grounded theory?

What is the difference between thematic analysis and grounded theory? can anyone recommend me articles wherein these methodologies are applied? Regards

Most recent answer

9th Feb, 2022
Dehilis Mokhtaria Rezkia
Canterbury Christ Church University
Thank you so much. Much appreciated 🙏

Popular answers (1)

9th Jun, 2020
Dean Whitehead
Federation University Australia
Abdul - they are two very different things. One (thematic analysis) is a qualitative method for analysing data - another (GT) is a methodology for creating qualitative theory. GT tends to have its own distinct methods of data analysis - but elements of thematic analysis can apply. Just Google the terms. There is a wealth of information available on both.
29 Recommendations

All Answers (110)

9th Jun, 2020
Jan Roan Neethling
North-West University
Hi Abdul, thematic analysis is based on the capturing of themes or elements of existing literature, much like the systematic literature review whereby you analyze existing literature and capture themes or elements with regards to your topic. Grounded theory is a much more complicated approach, it is based on the analyses of data/literature and coding, the theoretical sampling and then turning back to your data collection. So it is an ongoing process of capturing and coding until your theory links back to your theoretical foundation. Hope it helps a bit.
3 Recommendations
9th Jun, 2020
Hussein A Mustafa
Salahaddin University - Erbil
Hi
I think it is useful to see this link, which provided a good answer to your question,
Best regards
1 Recommendation
9th Jun, 2020
Dean Whitehead
Federation University Australia
Abdul - they are two very different things. One (thematic analysis) is a qualitative method for analysing data - another (GT) is a methodology for creating qualitative theory. GT tends to have its own distinct methods of data analysis - but elements of thematic analysis can apply. Just Google the terms. There is a wealth of information available on both.
29 Recommendations
10th Jun, 2020
David L Morgan
Portland State University
Jan Roan Neethling has mentioned one of the key distinctions, which is that GT uses an ongoing process that keeps returning to coding and analysis throughout the data collection. In contrast, Thematic Analysis waits until all the data has been collected before any coding begins.
27 Recommendations
11th Jun, 2020
Michael W. Marek
Wayne State College
In Theme Analysis, you take a body of data, such as interview transcripts or news stories, and identify ideas that recur, which you explain by existing theory.
Grounded Theory is an "iterative" process, meaning that you go through multiple cycles. You analyze data and develop tentative ideas, but then you go back to the original data sources to check, confirm, and enrich your understanding. This updates your ideas. You go through this cycle multiple times and as Dean said, your goal is to create new theory, validated by your iterative development of conclusions about your findings.
So there are some things that are the same, but the overall purpose and process is different.
2 Recommendations
Thematic Analysis and Grounded Theory are in different levels: Grounded Theory is a methodology which has different procedures to analize the data in order to elaborate a theory about an ongoing process referred to some phenomenon. It analytical tools are: open coding, axial coding, selecting coding combined during the process with memos writing to discover the relationship among concepts and constant comparison, etc. I suggest that you could read Strauss and Corbin or Strauss and Glaser (the authors of grounded theory) to see all the procedures that you must to use in order to create a theory. For me is your objective is develop a new theory you could use grounded theory but is not do not use it because their use implie so much time consuming, is a amazing process but take a lot of time and reflections. Thematic analysis is a procedures that allowed you describe or manage your data to describe it, nor for discover a process and not for elaborating a new theory.
I suggest read the classic books about both to understand their differences. Bye.
2 Recommendations
13th Jun, 2020
Rini Indriani
Universitas Bengkulu
Grounded Theory is one of the five approaches used in qualitative research methodologies.
Thematic Analysis as a data analysis method for qualitative study; is one way to analyze data with the aim to improve patterns and find themes through the data that has been collected by researchers.
4 Recommendations
13th Jun, 2020
David L Morgan
Portland State University
As far as I know, there are many more than five approaches ("traditions") to qualitative research, and one of the most common one is to collect the data via semi-structured interviews and to analyze that data using something like thematic analysis.
4 Recommendations
14th Jun, 2020
Abdul Hadi
Harran University
David L Morgan Rini Indriani Cristina Di Silvestre Michael W. Marek thanks you all for your time and precious contribution.
As I understood the difference between grounded theory and thematic analysis is that in grounded theory, a researcher collects the data without having any theory in his/her mind, she/he develops theory out of the data; however, while analyzing the data he/she uses thematic analysis to find out the main themes that enable him/her to develop a theory (grounded theory).
In contrast, thematic analysis is a data analyzing process wherein a researcher analyzes the data and seeks main themes in it which may be related to his/her objectives/questions of the study or the new ones emerge during the study.
Please correct me if I am wrong.
Thank you so much and regards
1 Recommendation
14th Jun, 2020
Victoria Clarke
University of the West of England, Bristol
Check out the FAQs on this website for an answer - https://www.psych.auckland.ac.nz/en/about/thematic-analysis.html
6 Recommendations
14th Jun, 2020
David L Morgan
Portland State University
Victoria Clarke is one of the originators of Thematic Analysis, and she has supplied you with a good link to further resources on this topic.
As for Grounded Theory, my favorite textbook on this subject is Charmaz, Constructing Grounded Theory. It would help you understand the GT version of coding and analysis, which is rather different than just applying thematic analysis during the analysis process.
2 Recommendations
15th Jun, 2020
Abdul Hadi
Harran University
Victoria Clarke David L Morgan Heather Douglas Thank you so much for your valuable suggestions :)
17th Jun, 2020
B.E.I. Johnson
Saint Leo University
Could it be acceptable to use thematic analysis on literature review as established theory specifically to compare and contrast with grounded theory methodology to enlighten innovative research theory for novel intervention program?
1 Recommendation
17th Jun, 2020
David L Morgan
Portland State University
One issue is whether you would be reviewing both quantitative and qualitative studies. For meta-analysis (meta-synthesis) of qualitative research, some kind of thematic approach is often used. But applying Grounded Theory would require you to start with a minimum of theoretical preconceptions, which would be difficult in a literature review.
17th Jun, 2020
B.E.I. Johnson
Saint Leo University
Thank you David L Morgan for your reply. I will most definitely include quantitative statistics from replicable sources such as census bureau and FBI along with legislative findings, more than 30 peer reviewed articles and books, plus multiple agency and congressional reports. Please pardon my probing but how does one "start with a minimum of theoretical preconceptions" without a (systematic) literature review? And how does it make sense to use theoretical preconceptions for grounded theory when grounded theory is for the purpose of generating theory? In this particular applied social research project I'm trying to (collaboratively) innovate novel solutions that both measure providers/services and accurately estimate population numbers while at the same time predicting outcome of services and for recipients. The area of interest is riddled with segmented knowledge at best and to date lacks theoretical agreement concerning a vulnerable population.
1 Recommendation
17th Jun, 2020
Abdulghani Muthanna
Norwegian University of Science and Technology
In theory, using grounded theory or thematic analysis processes for the analysis of qualitative data is different. But in practice, the analysis processes/phases are similar to a degree that it does not actually matter which one you actually apply/follow! However, I agree with scholars who posit that thematic analysis approach is better followed while conducting a review paper!
17th Jun, 2020
Abdulghani Muthanna
Norwegian University of Science and Technology
Additionally, When following grounded theory for the analysis of qualitative data, themes emerge from the analysis processes, and such themes are not necessarily connected to one another. However, in a thematic analysis approach, the emerging themes need to relate to one another and preferably in a sequential way!
Hope this helps!
17th Jun, 2020
David L Morgan
Portland State University
One of the defining features of GT is that it generates theory as much as possible from the data itself (which is what makes it "grounded"). As such, it relies on a minimum of preconceptions of any kind, and most especially preconceptions that come from existing theory.
Since your goal is to generate an intervention program, this amounts to a piece of mixed methods research which falls under the heading of an "exploratory sequential design." In that case, the purpose for the qualitative research is to help generate the content for the intervention.
1 Recommendation
17th Jun, 2020
Abdulghani Muthanna
Norwegian University of Science and Technology
For further clarity about grounded theory, it is of two types and it would be useful to mention the type you are employing: 1) Constructivist grounded theory (see for example, Charmaz) that posits that it is inescapable to go to the field for collecting data without some preconceptions derived from reviewing the literature, and 2) Objectivist grounded theory (see for example, Glaser) that on the country posits that a researcher should not have any preconceptions about the phenomenon under study! I am personally of the idea that instead of using the concept 'preconceptions', we better use the concept 'accumulative knowledge' that is important and sometimes 'inescapable' for preparing and conducting effective interviews. This is also mentioned in this paper for those who are interested!
https://www.researchgate.net/publication/330367203_Critical_qualitative_inquiry_and_methodological_awareness_The_effectiveness_of_face-to-face_interviews_in_changingenhancing_participants'_beliefs_and_practices?_sg=xRL9ASjXrI1d60lhGUL-QwsREQUmJuKBJLaTcc6kO48SewZamH-R2aP51_ethkaRQceHtZGbZbyrES2MYS9n0rw5_s1MKGLkAKWvql3g.a50JnYpu0jnubp0FZBIA3eytxzIRjxBySh7Ns-bayZdOCfjqY8HF1JlotMYlUW1YOZqX6d0aLNS3rqPTU_fmzQ
2 Recommendations
18th Jun, 2020
B.E.I. Johnson
Saint Leo University
Thank you David L Morgan for precisely explaining how "exploratory sequential design." may serve my goal as I serve our society, that is a great help. Thank you Abdulghani Muthanna for explaining two faces of grounded theory and suggesting I make clear which one is more dominate in my research methodology. I have one problem ascertaining which to go with based on the fact I believe neutrality is essential to reduce bias, I believe we are inherently inclined to go to the samplings territory for true data collection and I believe our personal life experience influences our senses of perception. I am one of those people who believe everything is connected by proxy in one way or another. In my defense for lack of a better word this does allow me to see the bigger picture through a much broader lense than many people.
2 Recommendations
19th Jun, 2020
David L Morgan
Portland State University
You might look at Burke Johnson's work on "mixed methods–grounded theory."
19th Jun, 2020
B.E.I. Johnson
Saint Leo University
Journal of Mixed Methods Research is very informative. There is no doubt mixed methods grounded theory is the best process for getting a more accurate micro, meso, and macro picture of estimate, incidence, prevalence, and prediction concerning runaway homeless youth in general and throwaway and trafficked youth in particular. Thank you David L Morgan for your Burke Johnson suggestion.
1 Recommendation
28th Jun, 2020
Mohammad Jasim Uddin
Shahjalal University of Science and Technology
Thematic analysis is a qualitative method for analyzing ethnographic/qualitative data. We often forget in Identifying themes in qualitative research, although it is the fundamental task in qualitative research. Themes may be come from the rigorous reviewing of the existing literature, or from personal experience of the subject matter. While GT addresses the issue of the development of theory in qualitative research. GT is based on data saturation. Certainly you could apply themes in collecting and analyzing data in GT .
28th Jun, 2020
David L Morgan
Portland State University
In my opinion, the way that GT uses the word "category" (i.e., a "conceptual category") is very similar to the idea of a theme in other versions of qualitative analysis. I think this is an unfortunate confusion because in most cases, categories are more like a descriptive collection of similar ideas. Indeed, many approaches to developing themes suggest that the next step after coding should be to group closely related codes together into a smaller number of categories.
So for me, the goal of GT is very much like the goal of generating themes, especially when those themes are connected into a model or low-level theory. That means that the main distinction between between GT and Thematic Analysis is in the way that they handle the timing of coding and the ongoing analysis process. GT works on analysis from the beginning, in close connection with the data collection process, while TA doesn't start the analysis process until after the data collection is concluded.
2 Recommendations
29th Jun, 2020
Mohammad Jasim Uddin
Shahjalal University of Science and Technology
Thanks sir! Yes, there is always a confusion about the distinction between category and theme. As I know, in content analysis/qualitative research, we developed categories under which similar chunks of texts are ordered or placed proximally. As a result, one could easily identify and delineate the characteristics of the category. Researcher can develop category at the very beginning of data analysis process to enter the abstraction process. To me, category is the explicit content of text; it is a simple description of the participants’ accounts .While, theme refers to a more implicit and abstract level, which requires interpretation.
Now about GT, you are right GT is much like the goal of generating themes. I think, in GT we have to develop themes at the very beginning of the fieldwork; otherwise we couldn't move forward, that is, we may not reach to the point of data saturation. I am not sure whether themes are related to the low- level- theory, because if one follows multi-sited ethnographic data s/he could develop theory from themes like other sociological theory developed in post-modern society.
29th Jun, 2020
B.E.I. Johnson
Saint Leo University
Hmmm David L Morgan and Mohammad Jasim Uddin ? This is what I have found in my research and experience concerning throwaway youth (youths 13-17 years of age unaccompanied by guardian adults): Other researchers, legislation and society in general have labelled these youth as burdensome, criminal and mentally ill; research and legislative findings are fragmented, disconnected and heavily influenced with bias; leaders with literal experience as an throwaway youth are as rare as this population is illusive; adequate interventions are severely lacking "in the best interest of throwaway youth" furthering negative profiling; and both transparency and accountability of many funds should be of higher priority than is currently fashionable. Most of what I laid out is in established literature, could that be labelled/ categorized as thematic analysis? A very small part of this in addition to my "push back" beliefs (theory or thesis?) of youth centric reasoning is from lived experience, observation and in need of further ethnographic research for broader validation- which I'm presuming would be developed through grounded theory, is this an accurate assumption?
1 Recommendation
29th Jun, 2020
Anjay kumar Mishra
Madan Bhandari Memorial Academy Nepal
Yes GT is complete process where as thematic is just content analysis of qualitative data collected.
3 Recommendations
30th Jun, 2020
Philip Adams
University of the West of Scotland
Fundamentally, GT seeks to construct a substantive theory of 'what's going on' in the situation studied whereas, with TA, this is not necessarily so.
1 Recommendation
30th Jun, 2020
Mohammad Jasim Uddin
Shahjalal University of Science and Technology
Yes Philip, that was my argument about GT and TA.
30th Jun, 2020
David L Morgan
Portland State University
B.E.I. Johnson I think the key distinction is whether you used your pre-existing theory or thesis as part of your analysis, such as using it to build codes. This would not fit with the GT goals of avoiding preconceptions. Also, Braun & Clarke now prefer what they call a "reflexive" version of TA, which requires inductively generating the coding categories during the analysis process, rather than using existing work as the basis for the coding.
So, it is one thing if you did fully inductive coding and then concluded that the results matched existing theory, but it is another thing if you built the assessment of that theory into your analysis process.
1 Recommendation
30th Jun, 2020
Mohammad Jasim Uddin
Shahjalal University of Science and Technology
Now it makes sense and we could reach a conclusion. Could you please make distinction beween theme and conceptual category, which you mentioned earlier, with examples?
30th Jun, 2020
David L Morgan
Portland State University
Mohammad Jasim Uddin I personally think that themes and conceptual categories are the same thing -- it is just a differences between the terminology used in Thematic Analysis and Grounded Theory.
4th Jul, 2020
B.E.I. Johnson
Saint Leo University
David L Morgan I do not have a particular theory in mind because what I've gathered shows the need for many theories to be blended due in part that one theory does not singularly apply to understanding this population. Thank you for "Braun & Clarke now prefer what they call a "reflexive" version of TA" which I believe may be what I am alluding to. Does inductively coding during the analysis process fall under content analysis?
4th Jul, 2020
David L Morgan
Portland State University
Content analysis can be done inductively, by creating the codes as you read the material, or deductively by applying a pre-built codebook.
2 Recommendations
17th Jul, 2020
B.E.I. Johnson
Saint Leo University
Thank you David L Morgan I most certainly will be using deductive coding. Has deductive coding been used in thematic analysis?
17th Jul, 2020
David L Morgan
Portland State University
Braun & Clarke now distinguish 3 approaches to Thematic Analysis, and although the use of pre-constructed codebooks is one of those three, it is not the one that they prefer.
They discuss this on their website at:
1 Recommendation
17th Jul, 2020
B.E.I. Johnson
Saint Leo University
My apologies David L Morgan I meant I will be inductively coding, not predetermined coding. It is my preference to allow data to emerge rather than have a predetermined mindset.
17th Jul, 2020
David L Morgan
Portland State University
Then that will fit with what Braun & Clarke now call Reflexive Thematic Analysis.
18th Jul, 2020
Mohammad Jasim Uddin
Shahjalal University of Science and Technology
Is it possible to use predetermined coding in qualitative research? I think it is not matched with the aim/motto of inductive research; because in this process of research
concept will be emerged, not will impose.
18th Jul, 2020
Mohammed Nanekely
University of Salford
Based on my knowledge and upon reviewing references, TA is good to point out key issues to be categorised and analysed for secondary data, whereas, GT is the best fit to develop a conceptual categorisation for primary data.
if anybody disagrees with me, kindly add comments to broaden our notions more.
18th Jul, 2020
David L Morgan
Portland State University
Mohammed Nanekely Thematic analysis can certainly be applied to primary data collection. One of the major distinctions between TA and GT is when the coding processing begins. In GT, coding occurs throughout data collection, but in TA all of the data is collected before coding begins.
5 Recommendations
18th Jul, 2020
Mohammad Jasim Uddin
Shahjalal University of Science and Technology
Fully agreed with Professor David L Morgan.
18th Jul, 2020
Mastewal Yami
Independent
I think thematic analysis would work to analyse both primary and secondary data. Yet, GT would be more helpful if applied in a continuous process and with primary data.
18th Jul, 2020
Mohammad Jasim Uddin
Shahjalal University of Science and Technology
Cetainly GT is a continuous process; as it is related with data saturation. The goal of GT is to develop theory in qualitative research. Strauss and Corbin also argued in the same vein when they introduced the Concept of GT in the 1960s. One of the main critics of qualitative research is that we couldn't develop theory through qualitative research, consequently Strauss and Corbin introduced GT to overcome this limitation. However, they also addressed some limitations of quantitative in this context.
19th Jul, 2020
Sanjeeb Ghorasainee
Meiji University
B.E.I. Johnson Braun & Clarke, I found are quite critical about the use of word 'emerge' while doing TA. I suggest you to look for more of their recent works, if you plan to follow their version of TA for creating themes.
19th Jul, 2020
B.E.I. Johnson
Saint Leo University
Thank you Sanjeeb Ghorasainee I will keep that in mind but the context I used emerge in has more to do with my preference. Are you saying inductive reasoning is not acceptable in thematic analysis?
19th Jul, 2020
David L Morgan
Portland State University
Here is the original quotation from Braun & Clarke, 2006, p. 80 (the reference to "Venus on the half shell" is to a painting by Botticelli). I find this section of their original article particularly interesting because they also claim that thematic analysis is not limited to constructionism, but the claim that themes reside only in "our heads" certainly seems to contradict that assertion.
"An account of themes ‘emerging’ or being ‘discovered’ is a passive account of the process of analysis, and it denies the active role the researcher always plays in identifying patterns/themes, selecting which are of interest, and reporting them to the readers (Taylor and Ussher, 2001). The language of ‘themes emerging’: can be misinterpreted to mean that themes ‘reside’ in the data, and if we just look hard enough they will ‘emerge’ like Venus on the half shell. If themes ‘reside’ anywhere, they reside in our heads from our thinking about our data and creating links as we understand them. (Ely et al ., 1997: 205/6)."
2 Recommendations
20th Jul, 2020
Aslıhan Ünal
Antalya AKEV University
TA and GT are quite different. GT has distinctive components as theoretical sampling, constant comperative analysis, theoretical coding ets. These methods are conducted jointly and simultaneously during the research. Eventually a theory emerges constructed around a core category (Glaserian mode). Glaser clearly highligths that “GT is not qualitative analysis”, but Thematic analysis is. Their steps are quite different.
20th Jul, 2020
B.E.I. Johnson
Saint Leo University
If qualitative analysis is contextually based with lived experience taken to be that the subject is an expert of their perception of that experience and grounded theory is also based on contextual experience by experts of their own lived experience would that not qualify as qualitative Aslıhan Ünal ?
20th Jul, 2020
David L Morgan
Portland State University
Glaser's point was that GT is not just "qualitative analysis” because it involves much more than just waiting for the data and then analyzing it, which is the basic process in TA.
4 Recommendations
20th Jul, 2020
Shakirullah Dawar
Higher Education Commission Islamabad Pakistan
Explanations and answers of David L Morgan are always easy to comprehend.
20th Jul, 2020
B.E.I. Johnson
Saint Leo University
Thank you very much David L Morgan That makes so much more sense to my fledgling sociological imagination.
27th Oct, 2020
Tayyab Amjad
Sunway University
Abdul Hadi Thematic analysis is an analysis technique. Whereas, grounded theory is a qualitative research method.
27th Oct, 2020
B.E.I. Johnson
Saint Leo University
Tayyab Amjad That is exactly how I was able to use both thematic analysis and grounded theory in my senior research project.
18th Nov, 2020
Getasew Amogne Aynalem
Wollo University
I think there's a general point that is somehow missing previous answers and may be useful here. Grounded theory and thematic analysis are instruments with very different conceptual nature. Grounded theory is a general epistemological approach, thematic analysis is a methodology, if not a specific method. The first defines how you approach a research (in short, you do not test hypotheses, but search for theories emerging from your data). The second is an instrument to analyze data, and can be done both through a grounded perspective or with pre-coded instruments guided by hypotheses. So I would argue that they cannot be "integrated", as if you were integrating qualitative and quantitative methods. You can certainly use thematic analysis in a grounded theory approach, by letting themes emerge from the reading". I hope, his explanation answered your question full.
7 Recommendations
1st Feb, 2021
Muhammad Shafi
University of Peshawar
The discussion clarified the boundaries between GT and TA. The former is more like related to the area of epistemology, follow its own distinct methodology while creating a new theory. The later, TA , is data analysis tool.
7th Mar, 2021
Bharat Ram Dhungana
Pokhara University
I agree with David L Morgan
22nd Mar, 2021
M Mukhlesur Rahman Chowdhury
The University of London
Grounded Theory works in a vacuum of theory or fills the gap by creating a new theory. This is an approach, where epistemology works. It approaches through interpretive epistemology and qualitative methodology. This is an exploratory approach with flexible strategy working on a Case Study, which analyses data in complex areas. Researchers approach the dissertation without any preconceived theoretical ideas about the subject under analysis.
Thematic Analysis starts function once the data is collected following data collection through Grounded Theoretical approach. TA is a tool of analysis. Researcher first collects the data, then writes the main chapter comprises events of vivid pictures from the data, subsequently turns the events into themes and finally adds theories with themes which becomes thematic Chapter. To make thematic Chapter, it needs to analyse the theories in order to fit with the themes. Thus Thematic Analysis works.
In the Qualitative Research Method, Grounded Theory and Thematic Analysis work hand in hand.
1 Recommendation
22nd Mar, 2021
David L Morgan
Portland State University
M Mukhlesur Rahman Chowdhury I have to disagree with your statement that, "Thematic Analysis starts function once the data is collected following data collection through Grounded Theoretical approach." Instead, Grounded Theory begins the analysis process at the same time as the data collection process, and the two proceed together simultaneously throughout the research project. In particular, things that are learned during the ongoing analysis can influence both who is interviewed and what questions they are asked.
This is very different from Thematic Analysis, which as you stated, does not begin until the data has been collected.
2 Recommendations
22nd Mar, 2021
M Mukhlesur Rahman Chowdhury
The University of London
David L Morgan I wanted to say what I did: first collected data, then wrote on events, subsequently worked on themes and lastly made a combination of themes and theories. However, both data collection and analysis can proceed together. Thanks.
22nd Mar, 2021
David L Morgan
Portland State University
M Mukhlesur Rahman Chowdhury This sounds much more like thematic analysis rather than grounded theory.
22nd Mar, 2021
M Mukhlesur Rahman Chowdhury
The University of London
David L Morgan Yes, it was thematic analysis when I worked on the themes. However, when I worked for a long time on archival research that was work on grounded theoretical approach. Besides, my research comprises interpretive epistemology, documentary analysis and case study, which is together Grounded Theory. Thanks.
22nd Mar, 2021
David L Morgan
Portland State University
But with Grounded Theory, you cannot collect data and then wait until you analyze later. In particular, you cannot wait after data collection is completed.
1 Recommendation
22nd Mar, 2021
M Mukhlesur Rahman Chowdhury
The University of London
David L Morgan In fact, I did archival analysis, wrote on events from documentary analysis, worked on a case study, from events I wrote themes and finally combined themes with theories.
23rd Mar, 2021
M.K. S Al-Mhdawi
Teesside University
I followed the grounded theory approach in my data analysis; as Prof. David L Morgan said, it is an ongoing process in which the initial insights and inputs can influence the direction of the next question(s)
30th Mar, 2021
Emilio J Castro-Navarro
Universidad Tecnológica Metropolitana
Abdul, I recommend the article that we published together with Isaias Miranda , where we use thematic analysis
2 Recommendations
29th Apr, 2021
Alicia Weber-Snyman
University of South Africa
Getasew Amogne Aynalem , thanks so much for this clarification. I see you quote the following "you can certainly use thematic analysis in a grounded theory approach, by letting themes emerge from the reading" – would you mind sharing this publication with me?@
29th Apr, 2021
Alicia Weber-Snyman
University of South Africa
My apologies for "chipping in" on your discussion. I was hoping that you would be willing to help me with something I am grappling with:
How would TA be used in a study taking a GT approach? Would the steps outlined for coding in GT simply be replaced by the coding phases of TA?
I have found several publications where TA is used as a data analysis technique in grounded theory (in line with the answer provided by Getasew Amogne Aynalem above). However, I am struggling to understand the process of using TA in GT. Even Braun & Clark, in their latest publication, ask the question, "When might you use reflexive TA rather than GT?". This leads me to assume that the use of TA and GT should be an "either/or" question rather than an "and" question. Also, in the link provided by Victoria Clark above, their checklist highlights one of the problematic assumptions of TA as "Assuming grounded theory concepts and procedures (e.g. saturation, constant comparative analysis, line-by-line coding) and applying these to TA without any explanation or justification." This leads me to the assumption that TA and GT concepts should not simply be "mixed". Although it seems that this is currently the case, for example in Everitt et al. (2019) – "An inductive thematic analysis employing supplementary techniques from grounded theory, was used to code the data and to identify themes that captured key concepts and processes."
As you will notice from my lengthy question, I am pretty confused about how TA could/should be used in a GT study. I would highly appreciate any advice or possible sources I can consult. Thank you in advance!
Regards,
Alicia
29th Apr, 2021
David L Morgan
Portland State University
Alicia Neva Weber-Snyman I personally do not think GT and TA are compatible. The most important distinction is that TA does not begin until all the data are collected, while GT combines data analysis and collection throughout the research process. This also means that the specific coding techniques developed as part of GT go hand in hand with revisions to the data collection process, such as theoretical sampling to further develop the analysis process. The fact that TA starts after data collection stops makes it difficult to even consider GT concepts such as theoretical sampling or saturation.
I myself believe there is always room for the creative combination of methods (as opposed to others who advise against "methods slurring"). But proponents of GT have always been very protective about their method and Braun and Clarke are becoming increasingly so for theirs.
I find this last change in direction to be highly ironic because I have always thought that TA is exactly what Brian and Clarke (2006) said it was, an attempt to make explicit what had always been an implicit means of qualitative analysis -- to take what most people did most of the time and make it a named brand, as they put it.
5 Recommendations
30th Apr, 2021
Alicia Weber-Snyman
University of South Africa
Thank you so much for taking the time to respond to my question. If you do not mind, I have one follow-up question. I have re-read the original 2006 work on Thematic Analysis. It seems that Braun and Clarke do not explicitly indicate that all data needs to be collected before phase 1 (familiarization of data) can commence. I assume it is implied through statements such as “It is ideal to read through the entire data set at least once before you begin your coding”? Or could you direct me to the work of Braun and Clarke, where it explicitly states that all data should be collected before analysis can/should begin?
I was just wondering, based on your experience, why some fundamentals of GA, for example, theoretical sampling and constant comparison, would be inappropriate if applied within the first phases of TA? In Braun & Clarke’s 2006 work, they state: “Analysis involves a constant moving back and forward between the entire data set, the coded extracts of data that you are analyzing….” For a novice like myself, it is quite difficult to clearly articulate the difference between what is meant by Braun & Clarke and the constant comparison method of GT. More importantly, why would the use of theoretical sampling be inappropriate in TA?
The reason for my question - I conducted several interviews as part of my PhD research. To be productive, I started transcribing the data (phase 1 of thematic analysis) between interviews. During this phase, I realized that I would need to interview someone from a different department within the same organization since I was getting one-sided responses to the problem. I went back to literature, where I was able to identify a small number of researchers who experienced the same problem. They used theoretical sampling to address the issue. I, therefore, familiarized myself with theoretical sampling and applied its principles to identify more participants for my study. At the time, it did not register with me that the change to my sampling could significantly affect the research design I was following. Previous authors’ justification for using theoretical sampling was simply that they were “inspired by grounded theory”. However, I feel that I am now “stuck” between the principles of TA and GT. I prefer to move ahead with TA, in line with my original research design. However, as you rightly state, proponents of the GT are quite protective about their method. Based on your experience, would my justification for using theoretical sampling with TA be acceptable? Would it just be considered “methods slurring” (as you put it), or would it be considered inappropriate and incorrect?
30th Apr, 2021
David L Morgan
Portland State University
In terms of when the data is collected versus when it is analyzed, the key issue is with the word familiarization. In GT, you code each interview immediately after you conduct it, so there is no need to "familiarize" yourself with the data. As the name implies, Thematic Analysis is strictly a means of analysis, and as you undoubtedly noticed, the 2006 article give no instructions on data collection.
For, theoretical sampling, this involves the collection of more data, based on a theoretical motivation that develops during the data analysis. As such, it is a key element of the ongoing combination of data collection and data analysis in GT. Since it involves going back to collect more data, based on the coding process, this would be generally inconsistent with TA's assumption that you collect and analyze a single "corpus" of data.
For constant comparative analysis, I have no idea why this would be incompatible with TA. At its most basic, it simply involves working back and forth from code to code to determine their relationships. But note that is a more theoretically oriented process than TA's emphasis on sorting codes into categories. In particular, the use of the word "category" in GT refers to a theoretically based grouping of codes, and is thus similar to what other approaches call a theme.
In your particular case, if you did not do any detailed analysis of your data, but simply recognized the need for more diversity in your data, then I would say that and leave GT out of it. Just because that approach happens to recommend something similar to what you did doesn't mean that you need to subscribe to it.
4 Recommendations
3rd May, 2021
Alicia Weber-Snyman
University of South Africa
Thank you, David L Morgan - I will follow your advice.
3rd May, 2021
Philip Adams
University of the West of Scotland
Personally, I think that, strictly, although GT and TA are 'kind of' different, there is really no reason why one could not, for instance, implement 'constant comparative analysis' in a TA project.
2 Recommendations
12th May, 2021
Mateboho Esther Kubutu
National University of Lesotho
I think there is a difference between grounded theory and thematic analysis.
Grounded theory , a researcher collects data without having a theory in mind. Out of collected data , a researcher can develop a theory. For analyzing data, a research uses thematic analysis to find main themes.
23rd May, 2021
Kirti Tyagi
Indian Institute of Technology Delhi
In thematic analysis, the investigator is majorly following specific data collection methods (interview or focus group discussion or others as per the research question). But in grounded theory, the investigator can use multiple data collection methods simultaneously (interview, FGDs).
On the other hand, the analysis in GT is ongoing and directional. You collect data and start analyzing it and based on that information, you direct your research question and sometimes provide a basis for what else needs to be asked. The main purpose of GT is theory development which is not in the case of TA.
2 Recommendations
21st Jul, 2021
Quazi Maksudur Rahman
Jahangirnagar University
Grounded theory is predominantly an inductive process whereby theoretical insights are generated from data, in contrast to deductive research where theoretical hypotheses are tested via data collection. Besides, thematic analysis is a method for identifying and analyzing patterns of meaning in a dataset. It describes which themes are important in the description of the phenomenon under study.
1 Recommendation
5th Aug, 2021
Alicia Weber-Snyman
University of South Africa
Dear
Atira Ety
To answer your questions:
1) No, my research is based on omnichannel supply chain integration. Initially, I only invited Heads of Departments from Supply Chain (SCM) functions to participate in my interviews. However, since my study is on integration, I realised that participants from these SCM functions/departments were biased. For example, when listing reasons for lack of integration, they almost “pointed the finger” at other departments in their organisation. Accordingly, I needed to get the perspective of these “other departments” to get an idea of the whole picture of why there is a lack of integration. I, therefore, contacted participants from the same retailers but heads of different departments (i.e., Marketing, Operations) to get their perspective on the topic.
2) I did both; initially, I used expert sampling. I set “expert inclusion criteria” – for example, years of experience, management level etc. and use these criteria to identify participants. After conducting an interview, I would ask participants to refer me to other people in their network meeting the expert inclusion criteria (snowball sampling). I found snowball sampling to yield much better results in terms of people’s willingness to participate in the study.
3) The analysis of the interview data was done inductively. However, I also did a document analysis based on the Integrated Annual reports of retailers who participated in the interviews. The document analysis was done deductively based on a coding frame I developed from the literature and the findings from the analysis of the interview data.
I hope this answers your question.
Best of luck with your studies 😊
Regards,
Alicia
1st Oct, 2021
Debrayan Bravo Hidalgo
Sharing Knowledge Group
I totally agree with Dean Whitehead
1st Oct, 2021
Philip Adams
University of the West of Scotland
To put the difference another way, essentially, GT works toward building a theory of 'what's going on' in a scenario, whereas TA would identify themes present in this scenario, each method reporting a different 'take' on this scenario; GT, as I said, delivering 'what's going on' and TA delivering what seem to be the important issues for people----the two deliveries not being quite the same thing.
1 Recommendation
3rd Oct, 2021
Philip Adams
University of the West of Scotland
Seems to me that you could do both; deduce from your theoretical lens where to get data which is then gotten inductively from these potential caches; of course, I say this while not knowing which theories that you intend to apply.
6th Oct, 2021
Philip Adams
University of the West of Scotland
What is your research topic?
28th Jan, 2022
Shuraik Kader
Sri Lanka Institute of Information Technology
Thematic analysis is a qualitative method for data analysis. Grounded theory is a methodology used to create such a qualitative theory needs to be implemented under thematic analysis.
29th Jan, 2022
Philip Adams
University of the West of Scotland
Let me amend my October 3rd post. Your approach seems good.
From what you say, I understand that you want to collect data concerning community opinion on the transmission of zoonotic malaria.
So, collect your data; do a thematic analysis of it (inductive); then compare these themes with what you would expect from looking at the community through your theoretical lens (deductive); thus, your findings from this inductive-deductive approach.
1st Feb, 2022
Haseeb Javed
Sungkyunkwan University
Grounded Theory is an "iterative" process, meaning that you go through multiple cycles. ... Thematic analysis is a procedures that allowed you describe or manage your data to describe it, nor for discover a process and not for elaborating a new theory.
1 Recommendation
9th Feb, 2022
Dehilis Mokhtaria Rezkia
Canterbury Christ Church University
The following is taken from Braun and Clark article (2006). Could you please clarify what do they mean. I’m so confused and stuck. “However, in our experience, grounded theory seems increasingly to be used in a way that is essentially grounded theory „lite‟ - as a set of procedures for coding data very much akin to thematic analysis. Such analyses do not appear to fully subscribe to the theoretical commitments of a „full-fat‟ grounded theory, which requires analysis to be directed towards theory development (Holloway & Todres, 2003). We argue, therefore, that a „named and claimed‟ thematic analysis means researchers need not subscribe to the implicit theoretical commitments of grounded theory if they do not wish to produce a fully worked-up grounded-theory analysis“. (PDF) Using thematic analysis in psychology. Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/235356393_Using_thematic_analysis_in_psychology [accessed Feb 09 2022].
9th Feb, 2022
David L Morgan
Portland State University
As noted by others above, what Braun & Clarke call "full fat" GT has to proceed through data collection that is systematically combined with data analysis. In contrast, Thematic Analysis is applied only to data that has already been collected.
So, if you collect your data first, and then analyze it separately, that cannot be GT, but this how TA operates. I do not know of anyone who currently refers to TA as "Grounded Theory Lite." Instead, these are considered to be two different methods.
1 Recommendation
9th Feb, 2022
Dehilis Mokhtaria Rezkia
Canterbury Christ Church University
Thank you so much for the clarification.
is it possible to manually analyse the data in Grounded Theory rather than using Computer Assisted analysis like (NVIVo)?
Thank you for the wonderful insights.
9th Feb, 2022
David L Morgan
Portland State University
It is very common to use manual analysis with GT. In particular, initial or open coding is often a poor fit to software, which favors short, highly descriptive codes.
1 Recommendation
9th Feb, 2022
Dehilis Mokhtaria Rezkia
Canterbury Christ Church University
Thank you so much. Much appreciated 🙏

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