Thematic coding and categorizing

This chapter from Gibbs' (2007) Analyzing Qualitative Data, clearly defines the theories behind coding and provides clear directions and examples to support its use.

Gibbs (2007) describes coding as "how you define what the data you are analyzing are about. It involves identifying and recording one or more passages of text or other data items such as the parts of pictures that, in some sense, exemplify the same theoretical or descriptive idea. Usually, several passages are identified and they are then linked with a name for that idea – the code. Thus all the text and so on that is about the same thing or exemplifies the same thing is coded to the same name. Coding is a way of indexing or categorizing the text in order to establish a framework of thematic ideas about it"


  • Codes and coding
  • The mechanics of coding
  • Data-driven or concept-driven?
  • What to code
  • Retrieving text from codes
  • Grounded theory


Gibbs, G. R., (2007). 4 Thematic coding and categorizing. Analyzing Qualitative Data. London: SAGE Publications, Ltd

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Anonymous's picture
Lilly Price

Very helpful. Thank you very much for writing it.

Anonymous's picture

Thank you very much for the quick info. I, as a researcher, do enjoy thematic coding, it is fun :)

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