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Research Writing and Analysis

This page contains information to support researchers with various research tools..

Thematic Analysis

While analysis strategies used with descriptive design can vary based upon the specific research purpose, one that is commonly used is thematic analysis. The following video is a brief overview of one technique to apply thematic analysis.

Data Analysis in Design and Development Research

Most of the data in DDR will be qualitative in nature and best analyzed using a thematic approach such as Clarke and Braun’s 6-step process illustrated below:

Clarke and Braun’s (2013) Six Step Data Analysis Process

Six step data analysis process graph

The 6-phase coding framework for thematic analysis will be used to identify themes and patterns in the data (Braun & Clarke, 2006). The phases are:

  1. Familiarization of data.
  2. Generation of codes.
  3. Combining codes into themes.
  4. Reviewing themes.
  5. Determine significance of themes.
  6. Reporting of findings.

For survey and other numeric data, descriptive statistics can be generated using EXCEL or SPSS.



Clarke, V. & Braun, V. (2013) Teaching thematic analysis: Overcoming challenges and developing strategies for effective learning. The Psychologist, 26(2), 120-123

Reading List

Merriam and Tysdale (2016) is considered a seminal source for qualitative methodology. Generic design is discussed on pages 23 to 25.

Merriam, S. & Tysdale, E. (2016). Qualitative research: A guide to design and implementation(4th ed). Jossey-Bass.

Elliott and Timulak (2021) provide a current summary of descriptive design.

Elliott, R. & Timulak, L. (2021). Descriptive-interpretive qualitative research; A generic approach. American Psychological Association. 

Kalke (2014) provides overview of generic design including the criticisms. The update, in 2018, reaffirms the 2014 source.

Kalke, R. (2014). Generic qualitative approaches: Pitfalls and benefits of methodological mixology. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 13, 37-52. Retrieved from

Kalke, R., (2018). Reflection/commentary on a past article” Generic qualitative approaches; Pitfalls and benefits of methodological mixology. International Journal of Qualitative Methods. 

Descriptive Design has been described in the qualitative research literature since the early 2000’s. Prior to that, it was not considered a non-categorial design lacking in rigor. The following articles address those criticisms and provide insight into how to best design a study using a descriptive approach.

Caelli, K., Ray, L., & Mill, J. (2003). Clear as mud: Towards a greater clarity in generic qualitative research. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 2(2), 1 – 23.

Percy, W., Kostere, K., & Kostere, S. (2015). Generic qualitative research in psychology. The Qualitative Report, 20(2), 76-85.

Sandelowski, M. (2000). Focus on research methods-Whatever happened to qualitative description? Research in Nursing and Health, 23(4), 334-340.