Systematic text condensation: a strategy for qualitative analysis

Scand J Public Health. 2012 Dec;40(8):795-805. doi: 10.1177/1403494812465030.


Aims: To present background, principles, and procedures for a strategy for qualitative analysis called systematic text condensation and discuss this approach compared with related strategies.

Methods: Giorgi's psychological phenomenological analysis is the point of departure and inspiration for systematic text condensation. The basic elements of Giorgi's method and the elaboration of these in systematic text condensation are presented, followed by a detailed description of procedures for analysis according to systematic text condensation. Finally, similarities and differences compared with other frequently applied methods for qualitative analysis are identified, as the foundation of a discussion of strengths and limitations of systematic text condensation.

Results: Systematic text condensation is a descriptive and explorative method for thematic cross-case analysis of different types of qualitative data, such as interview studies, observational studies, and analysis of written texts. The method represents a pragmatic approach, although inspired by phenomenological ideas, and various theoretical frameworks can be applied. The procedure consists of the following steps: 1) total impression - from chaos to themes; 2) identifying and sorting meaning units - from themes to codes; 3) condensation - from code to meaning; 4) synthesizing - from condensation to descriptions and concepts. Similarities and differences comparing systematic text condensation with other frequently applied qualitative methods regarding thematic analysis, theoretical methodological framework, analysis procedures, and taxonomy are discussed.

Conclusions: Systematic text condensation is a strategy for analysis developed from traditions shared by most of the methods for analysis of qualitative data. The method offers the novice researcher a process of intersubjectivity, reflexivity, and feasibility, while maintaining a responsible level of methodological rigour.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Qualitative Research*
  • Research Design*
  • Statistics as Topic / methods*