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Loudspeaker icon Revising and restructuring the codes in a Template.

Here is a video of Prof. Nigel King, one of the developers of Template Analysis, talking about ways of revising the template codes.

Rationalising the codes in the Template

Authors of this page:Dawn Clarke and Graham R. Gibbs

Affiliation: University of Huddersfield

Date written: 15th December 2008




Learning outcomes

  1. Revise your initial codes by redefining and combining them.
  2. Supplement the coding with case summaries.



Frances continued to work on her coding to produce her first template; this was all taking place at the same time as many of the interviews which she felt made the process slower than she had anticipated. The other surprise for Frances was the large number of codes that were initially produced.

This is a common experience when researchers start their analysis. Everything seems important and they are worried about missing things out in case they turn out later to be significant. If this happens to you, you should start to think about ways in which you can reduce the number of codes or rationalise them. For example, many may be versions of the same thing and could be combined. You may have coded to too fine a level of detail. A more general level of coding might be sufficient. Other codes may be simply descriptive and may be replaced by more analytic, theoretical or interpretative ones. Frances did this. Upon reflection she realized that many codes could be merged together, reducing their number and simplifying the structure of the template. Thus the potential categories for the template began to take shape.


Loudspeaker iconFrances describes how she began to merge codes where she could:

Things like the ‘accidents themselves’, ‘the symptoms’, ‘seeking help’, ‘initial consultation’ and ‘treatment’, ‘what was helpful’, ‘what was unhelpful’, ‘self management’, ‘knowledge of whiplash’, a lot of that became part of the ‘Health care experience’ and became ‘Identifying the problem’ - so what was the problem?


Parts of initial and final templates
Initial Template  (Patients)
Final Template  (Patients)

Perception of Seriousness of Accident

History of Whiplash

Chronology of symptoms

Current/Recent Symptoms

Seeking Help

Initial Consultation




Exacerbating Factors

Self Management


Knowledge of Whiplash

1 The Healthcare Experience
            Identifying the problem

                        NHS treatment
                        Other providers
            Information on whiplash injury
            Participant evaluation of healthcare


In other cases she retained the codes but their meaning and significance was changed.


Loudspeaker iconFrances describes how the code on Treatment changed its focus:

Treatment, that was kind of still in there because I think that’s important for policy for practice issues so that became: ‘Treatment’ - ‘NHS treatment’ or ‘Other providers’. So it wasn’t about, going back to the treatment example, ‘I prescribed this and I recommended this’ it was treatment option. So one would be medication. One treatment intervention which I never really saw as treatment intervention until much further down the road and going back and changing was ‘Reassurance’, that’s a treatment intervention but I never saw that as a treatment intervention [till later].


So although Frances' practical concerns meant she retained the code 'Treatment' and in it included the kinds of options that medical practitioners might choose, she also began to realise that other actions could be included in the code, even if they weren't things that a practitioner would think of as a medical option. An example of this was 'Reassurance'.

Frances felt that the process of reducing the number of codes into categories made the data more manageable and she was better able to understand the participants' experiences.


Loudspeaker iconFrances explained her reasons for doing this:

It [reducing the number of codes into categories] makes you focus more on what’s happening so it’s a bit like having a massive picture which is quite an overwhelming feeling you think oh my goodness all this stuff and I’ve got to somehow make sense of this and make something that’s very coherent and very understandable. I think it’s a comprehension, I think it’s an understanding their way [the participants'] of understanding something.


With this in mind Frances immersed herself in the data by approaching the transcripts as individual case studies rather than a collective group; she explained the benefits of this:


Loudspeaker iconFrances explained why examining the data as cases was useful:

There was the individual case study [which] presents the patients, their experience, what it [whiplash injury] means for them, which is very different for each of them.  And that was of a way of doing that [making the data more manageable] and by doing that [it] actually helped me to step outside [my own experience and being descriptive] or see it [the data] more analytically, if that's the word to use, outside of this medical, a more human way of looking at something, a different way of looking at something.


Through the process of treating each participant as a single case study rather than examining all the respondents as a group Frances was able to begin to understand how the codes could be reduced into relevant categories. In this way she developed the initial template.


Loudspeaker iconFrances explained why she felt template analysis was useful:

The template, there’s a connection, it’s like a tree, but it is a way of bringing it all together[the data] and holding it together [for example]. The case studies, I couldn’t do them until all the interviews had been completed which was nearly two years from start to finish, that is an awful long time to have all this stuff whizzing round in your head.  A lot of it you don’t think about but it’s there, so it’s a long time to hold that.


Therefore Frances felt that template analysis not only enabled her to analyse the data in a way that she could explore the relevant issues but, it also provided a framework to manage the data. This is an important element for all researchers to consider as she stated she collected a large amount of data over a long period of time which was difficult to manage; this is often the case for many researchers.  


Creative Commons License
The resources on this site by Graham R Gibbs, Dawn Clarke, Celia Taylor, Christina Silver and Ann Lewins are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.


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