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.

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Keywords qualitative analysis, research transparency, methodological reflexivity, media policy, coding, theme development, elite interviews
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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