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  • Writer's pictureDarien Smith

Logistics of Research

Evaluating Case Studies That Use Interview Data Collection and Thematic Analysis as Their Main Basis of Methodology


What is Thematic Analysis?

The chosen method of research that I would like to discuss in this blog post is qualitative research data (specifically interviews) and thematic analysis as the method of analysing said data (Braun & Clarke, 2006). As it sounds, thematic analysis is a method for identifying the themes/patterns within the results obtained via a study’s qualitative-based methodology, for example, surveys, social media posts, interviews, and conversations (Crosley, 2021).


The advantages of thematic analysis are as follows: It offers a significant amount of flexibility in interpreting data and is often an exploratory process, helpful as research questions can evolve during the researcher/s progress with their coding and theme identification (Crosley, 2021). Thematic analysis allows a researcher to approach large datasets more easily by sorting them into broad themes (Caulfield, 2022).


Case Studies


In this interview-driven video, members of the London public are asked about what clothes they bought in March of 2013. Though this sample size was very small (only 6 responses to the research question), a common theme was in fact present. In March of 2013 members of the public seemed to buy and wear warmer clothing as compared to March 2021. This trend is reflective of the colder Weather reports during that time. (Summit, 2013)


This case study demonstrates qualitative research data (specifically interviews) in the form of a video. The thematic analysis is left to the viewer to interpret. This method of displaying research data, though lacking in academic rigour and participant sample size, is an effective means of enabling critical thinking within the viewer in a less academically inclined, easy-to-absorb format (Hartsell, et.al, 2006).


Conversely, thematic analysis and the plethora of different qualitative methods in which it is informed, have proven to be an effective means in the gathering and analysis observed in more scientific and academically rigorous studies. An example of this is presented in The power of Bollywood: A study on opportunities, challenges, and audiences’ perceptions of Indian cinema in China’. Written by Yanyan Hong (2021) of the University of Queensland Australia. As outlined in their research paper, Hong collected data from semi-structured interviews with 32 Indian-film audiences across 14 cities in mainland China. To establish trends across the interview data, Hong used thematic analysis to distinguish the five most appealing factors responsible for why Chinese people enjoy Indian films: content-driven story, social values, star power, audience reviews and cultural connections. Hong’s research method revealed two conflicting points in the failure and success of Indian movies in China: first, a comprehensive list of opportunities was derived from the method positively outlining the potential future of Bollywood in China. Second, results found that India and China’s geopolitical tensions also present challenges that negatively impact the success of Bollywood movies in the Chinese market.


Advantages and Disadvantages of Interview Data Collection and Thematic Analysis

Ontologically, interviews produce a rich tapestry of data, the results of which can be hard to define, but even with complex subjects matter as observed in Hong’s study, thematic analysis can be utilised to break the information down into its most relevant/important parts. Regarding media studies, my particular field of study, qualitative data is often the driving force behind our methods; having such a flexible tool of analysis, with no epistemological restrictions (Tanczer, 2012-2022) is highly advantageous to our research. Though the use of interview data collection and thematic analysis has proven to have its strengths, use of these tools involves the risk of missing nuances in the data. Thematic analysis is often quite subjective and relies on the researcher’s judgement, potentially leading to discrepancies in objectivity if not careful (Caulfield, 2022).



References


Braun, V., & Clarke, V. (2006). Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qual Res Psychol. pp 77–101.


Caulfield, J. (2022). How to Do Thematic Analysis | Guide & Examples. Scribbr. https://www.scribbr.co.uk/research-methods/thematic-analysis-explained/


Crosley, J. (2021). What (Exactly) Is Thematic Analysis?. Grad Coach. https://gradcoach.com/what-is-thematic-analysis/


Hartsell, T., & Yuen, S. (2006). Video streaming in online learning. AACE Journal. pp 31-43. https://www.learntechlib.org/primary/p/6152/


Hong, Y. (2021). The power of Bollywood: A study on opportunities, challenges, and audiences’ perceptions of Indian cinema in China. Global Media and China, pp 345–363. https://doi.org/10.1177/20594364211022605


Summit. (2013). What clothes did shoppers buy in March?. Summit. [Video]. https://www.summit.co.uk/videos/summit-street-survey-1-what-clothes-did-shoppers-buy-in-march/


Tanczer, L. M. (n.d.). Methodology | Learning Development Service. Queen’s University Belfast.https://www.qub.ac.uk/graduate-school/Filestore/Filetoupload,597677,en.pdf





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