Thematic analysis (TA) is a popular and foundational method of analysing qualitative policy data. It is concerned with the identification and analysis of patterns of meaning (themes) and constitutes a widely applicable, cost-effective and flexible tool for exploratory research. More generally, it constitutes a cornerstone of qualitative data analysis. Drawing principally on Braun and Clarke’s (2013; 2006) work, the chapter outlines when the use of this method is suitable and makes practical suggestions about how to plan and conduct TA research. Few policy studies employing TA contain a transparent discussion of research methods. This chapter stresses the importance of research transparency and methodological reflexivity: researchers should not only document what they do; they should also explicitly argue how and why they opted for specific methods and discuss implications for future empirical research.

qualitative analysis, research transparency, methodological reflexivity, media policy, coding, theme development, elite interviews
Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication (ESHCC)

Herzog, C, Handke, C.W, & Hitters, H.J.C.J. (2017). Thematic Analysis of Policy Data. In Van den Bulck, H., Puppis, M., Donders, K. & Van Audenhove, L. (Eds.) The Palgrave Handbook of Methods for Media Policy Research. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. Retrieved from