Thematic Trajectory Analysis: A Temporal Method for Analysing Dynamic Qualitative Data

Leighann Spencer, Laura Radcliffe, Rachel Spence, Nigel King

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper introduces a novel, temporally sensitive analytical method for qualitative researchers, which is simultaneously timely and necessary given increasing recognition of the fundamental role that time plays in organisational life and scholarship. As a result of this recognition, research designs considering temporality have substantially increased over the past decade. However, while methods for qualitative data collection using longitudinal and ‘shortitudinal’ designs, in particular qualitative diary methods, have become increasingly common, analytical methods capable of fully exploiting the temporal nature of such data have lagged behind their quantitative counter-parts, where we see marked progression in analytical methods and procedures. In this paper, we argue that this lack of progression in approaches for analysing qualitative diary data hinders our knowledge and theoretical development when it comes to incorporating temporality, particularly in the exploration of phenomena at individual-/micro-levels, arguably most salient to organisational psychology researchers. We respond to these challenges by introducing a novel, step-by-step analytical approach that facilitates rigorous incorporation of temporality into the analysis and theorisation of micro-level, qualitative diary data, termed Thematic Trajectory Analysis (TTA).
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 4 Jun 2021

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