Theme in Qualitative Content Analysis and Thematic Analysis

Mojtaba Vaismoradi, Sherrill Snelgrove


Qualitative design consists of various approaches towards data collection, which researchers can use to help with the provision of both cultural and contextual description and interpretation of social phenomena. Qualitative content analysis (QCA) and thematic analysis (TA) as qualitative research approaches are commonly used by researchers across disciplines. There is a gap in the international literature regarding differences between QCA and TA in terms of the concept of a theme and how it is developed. Therefore, in this discussion paper we address this gap in knowledge and present differences and similarities between these qualitative research approaches in terms of the theme as the final product of data analysis. We drew on current multidisciplinary literature to support our perspectives and to develop internationally informed analytical notions of the theme in QCA and TA. We anticipate that improving knowledge and understanding of theme development in QCA and TA will support other researchers in selecting the most appropriate qualitative approach to answer their study question, provide high-quality and trustworthy findings, and remain faithful to the analytical requirements of QCA and TA.


data analysis; qualitative research; qualitative content analysis; theme; thematic analysis

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Copyright (c) 2019 Mojtaba Vaismoradi, Sherrill Snelgrove

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