Techniques to Identify Themes

Gery W. Ryan, Harvey Bernard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1817 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Theme identification is one of the most fundamental tasks in qualitative research. It also is one of the most mysterious. Explicit descriptions of theme discovery are rarely found in articles and reports, and when they are, they are often relegated to appendices or footnotes. Techniques are shared among small groups of social scientists, but sharing is impeded by disciplinary or epistemological boundaries. The techniques described here are drawn from across epistemological and disciplinary boundaries. They include both observational and manipulative techniques and range from quick word counts to laborious, in-depth, line-by-line scrutiny. Techniques are compared on six dimensions: (1) appropriateness for data types, (2) required labor, (3) required expertise, (4) stage of analysis, (5) number and types of themes to be generated, and (6) issues of reliability and validity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)85-109
Number of pages25
JournalField Methods
Volume15
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2003
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

social scientist
small group
qualitative research
expertise
labor

Keywords

  • open coding
  • qualitative analysis
  • qualitative research methods
  • text analysis
  • theme identification

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology

Cite this

Techniques to Identify Themes. / Ryan, Gery W.; Bernard, Harvey.

In: Field Methods, Vol. 15, No. 1, 01.01.2003, p. 85-109.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Ryan, Gery W. ; Bernard, Harvey. / Techniques to Identify Themes. In: Field Methods. 2003 ; Vol. 15, No. 1. pp. 85-109.
@article{a80b22ea94d14ce0a44d27cfefa4fa5b,
title = "Techniques to Identify Themes",
abstract = "Theme identification is one of the most fundamental tasks in qualitative research. It also is one of the most mysterious. Explicit descriptions of theme discovery are rarely found in articles and reports, and when they are, they are often relegated to appendices or footnotes. Techniques are shared among small groups of social scientists, but sharing is impeded by disciplinary or epistemological boundaries. The techniques described here are drawn from across epistemological and disciplinary boundaries. They include both observational and manipulative techniques and range from quick word counts to laborious, in-depth, line-by-line scrutiny. Techniques are compared on six dimensions: (1) appropriateness for data types, (2) required labor, (3) required expertise, (4) stage of analysis, (5) number and types of themes to be generated, and (6) issues of reliability and validity.",
keywords = "open coding, qualitative analysis, qualitative research methods, text analysis, theme identification",
author = "Ryan, {Gery W.} and Harvey Bernard",
year = "2003",
month = "1",
day = "1",
doi = "10.1177/1525822X02239569",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "15",
pages = "85--109",
journal = "Field Methods",
issn = "1525-822X",
publisher = "SAGE Publications Inc.",
number = "1",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Techniques to Identify Themes

AU - Ryan, Gery W.

AU - Bernard, Harvey

PY - 2003/1/1

Y1 - 2003/1/1

N2 - Theme identification is one of the most fundamental tasks in qualitative research. It also is one of the most mysterious. Explicit descriptions of theme discovery are rarely found in articles and reports, and when they are, they are often relegated to appendices or footnotes. Techniques are shared among small groups of social scientists, but sharing is impeded by disciplinary or epistemological boundaries. The techniques described here are drawn from across epistemological and disciplinary boundaries. They include both observational and manipulative techniques and range from quick word counts to laborious, in-depth, line-by-line scrutiny. Techniques are compared on six dimensions: (1) appropriateness for data types, (2) required labor, (3) required expertise, (4) stage of analysis, (5) number and types of themes to be generated, and (6) issues of reliability and validity.

AB - Theme identification is one of the most fundamental tasks in qualitative research. It also is one of the most mysterious. Explicit descriptions of theme discovery are rarely found in articles and reports, and when they are, they are often relegated to appendices or footnotes. Techniques are shared among small groups of social scientists, but sharing is impeded by disciplinary or epistemological boundaries. The techniques described here are drawn from across epistemological and disciplinary boundaries. They include both observational and manipulative techniques and range from quick word counts to laborious, in-depth, line-by-line scrutiny. Techniques are compared on six dimensions: (1) appropriateness for data types, (2) required labor, (3) required expertise, (4) stage of analysis, (5) number and types of themes to be generated, and (6) issues of reliability and validity.

KW - open coding

KW - qualitative analysis

KW - qualitative research methods

KW - text analysis

KW - theme identification

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=84993748524&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=84993748524&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1177/1525822X02239569

DO - 10.1177/1525822X02239569

M3 - Article

VL - 15

SP - 85

EP - 109

JO - Field Methods

JF - Field Methods

SN - 1525-822X

IS - 1

ER -