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Find the Theme in Your Data

Find the Theme in Your Data
Little Quick Fix

October 2019 | 136 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd

Working with even small amounts of qualitative data can be intimidating. Students may not know where to start, how much detail to involve, what themes really tell you, and why they matter in the larger context of the research. Focused on building confidence and decreasing anxiety from information overload by helping students build a manageable system that works for digging into and making sense of their individual data, this Little Quick Fix answers questions like:

- What is a theme?

- How do I start looking for themes?

- How do I turn my transcriptions into themes?

- How do I turn my codes into themes?

- How do I turn my categories into themes?

- How will I know if my themes are any good?

- How will I know if my themes are meaningful?

Students need help over hurdles at every stage of their research project. They want simple, powerful, accessible tools that deliver results fast. They need to meet interim assessment deadlines and prove that they have successfully passed through multiple stages of their project, or need to master a stage of understanding in a learning cascade before they can proceed to the next week in their methods module. 

Their supervisors are increasingly unable to help, but will still be assessing results. Students need more than YouTube.

Titles in the Little Quick Fix series offer:

·       Visual, design-led learning

·       Clear, structured, useful pedagogy

·       A hand-holding,  step-by-step approach for students who are less able, or less academically prepared by school so far

·       Effective self-directed learning with DIY progress tracking

·       A stand-in for the busy/unavailable supervisor


What is a theme?
How do I start looking for themes?
What do I do with my transcripts?
What’s a code?
How do start to code?
How do I turn my codes into categories?
How do I turn my categories into themes?
How will I know if my themes are meaningful?

I really like the simple step by step approach taken in this book and the workbook exercises that allow the student to test their understanding as they go along. The book makes the process of analysing qualitative data accessible to students, many of whom have no experience of doing research.

Ms Angela Short
Education, Dundalk Institute of Technology
February 26, 2023

Clear and concise. Accessible language for undergraduate students

Ms Sarah Purdy
Faculty of Health and Social Care Scienc, Kingston University
March 17, 2023

Will be very helpful for my students undertaking their research projects

Mrs Emma Harvey
Education, Suffolk New College
January 13, 2021

An excellent text that offers a concise approach to thematic analysis that is easy to pick up and apply in practice

Mrs Liz Cade
Health and Social Care, Wrexham Glyndwr University
October 16, 2020

Focused and accessible

Ms Paula Hearsum
School of Arts and Media, Brighton University
July 17, 2020

Useful read, with guidance to help students select the appropriate statistical test

Mrs Carol Ellis
Allied Health & Medicine (Chelmsford), Anglia Ruskin University
September 28, 2020

Easy to use and students love it.

Dr Seidu Salifu
Education, North East Surrey college of technology
November 11, 2019

The book contains the essential facts of qualitative data analysis. It is easy to read and contains practical exercises. But I am not quite sure about at which point in the learning process it might be helpful. Right at the beginning, more information might be necessary to understand. At a later point, the information given might be too general to really be useful. Nevertheless, the book might be helpful for students at different stages depending on their learning styles.

Professor Anja Tausch
Psychology, SRH Fernhochschule-The Mobile University
December 17, 2019

This is an excellent and concise guide for students who are undertaking large research projects for the first time (and indeed for more seasoned researchers). The jargon-free and user-friendly approach is engaging. It also offer useful guidance for students to explain the data analysis process in their methodological reflections.

Dr Eileen Hogan
School of Applied Social Studies , University College Cork (NUI)
November 15, 2019

Sample Materials & Chapters

Introduction, Section 1 & Section 2