4. Reviewing themes

This stage involves refinement of your themes. Some themes will collapse into other themes whereas some of your themes may need to be broken down into smaller components.

This stage has two levels:

Level 1: reviewing at the level of the coded data

Re-read all of your data extracts that fit into each theme to ensure that all of your data forms a coherent pattern. If some of your data does not fit into your theme, think to yourself, is the theme itself problematic? Or do you need to rearrange your data? If your data fits into each theme coherently, move on to level 2.

Level 2: reviewing at the level of the themes
Consider each theme in relation to your data corpus. Use a thematic map to help you to visualize the relationship between your themes. Do the relationships between the themes reflect the meaning of your data as a whole? If not, return to step 3 (searching for themes) and 4 (reviewing themes). If they do, move on to step 5 (defining and naming themes). By the end of this stage you should have a satisfactory thematic map of your data.

After reviewing your mind map from previous step with your initial data from step 1, you will make some revisions and produce a thematic map. See the example below.