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International Journal of Qualitative Methods

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Qualitative inquiry -- methods, Data collection -- methods


Because themes play such a central role in the presentation of qualitative research results, we propose a new method, Iterative Thematic Inquiry (ITI), that is guided by the development of themes. We begin by describing how ITI uses pragmatism as a theoretical basis for linking beliefs, in the form of preconceptions, to actions, in the form of data collection and analysis. Next, we present the four basic phases that ITI relies on: assessing beliefs; building new beliefs through encounters with data; listing tentative themes; and, evaluating themes through coding. We also review several notable differences between ITI and existing methods for qualitative data analysis, such as thematic analysis, grounded theory, and qualitative content analysis. The use of ITI is then illustrated through its application in a study of exiters from fundamentalist religions. Overall, the two most notable features of ITI are that it begins the development of themes as early as possible, through an assessment of initial preconceptions, and that it relies on writing rather than coding, by using a continual revision of tentative results as the primary procedure for generating a final set of themes.


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