Transcribed interviews, observational notes, diaries, and samples of human action are treated as text analogues for interpretive analysis. The data analysis in a hermeneutic study is carried out in three interrelated processes: thematic analysis, analysis of exemplars, and the search for paradigm cases. In the thematic analysis, each case (all interviews, field notes, etc.) is read several times in order to arrive at a global analysis. (…) From this, an interpretive plan emerges. Each interview is then read from the perspective of the interpretive plan. As this microanalysis is carried out, additional lines of inquiry may emerge from the data and are added to the interpretive plan. (…) From this analysis come ‘exemplars:’ stories or vignettes that capture the meaning in a situation in such a way that the meaning can then be recognized in another situation that might have very different objective circumstances. (…) The last aspect of the interpretive analysis involves the identification of paradigm cases: strong instances of particular patterns of meaning. Paradigm cases embody the rich descriptive information necessary for understanding how an individual’s actions and understandings emerge from his or her situational context: their concerns, practices and background meanings. They are not reducible to formal theory – to abstract variables used to predict and control. Rather, what are recognized are ‘family resemblances’ between a paradigm case and a particular clinical situation that one is trying to understand and explain.” (p59)
Through the use of a hermeneutic interpretative analysis of what the observed describe in their experiences as a microanalysis of the themes that are revealed from it. Leonard describes a three-part interrelated process comprising of the thematic analysis [internal], followed by analysis of exemplars [external] and a paradigm case search [imaginative variation]. This interpretative analysis models to Moustakas’ (1994) phenomenological research methodology. The exemplars in this case are external as they are dependent on other studies and are part of the researcher’s analysis rather than what the researcher is revealing in the subject. The looking for exemplars is an act of external validation. The paradigm case search appears to be health practice specific, and therefore not in its entirety useful beyond healthcare. What the paradigm case search does suggest though is a way to examine the interpretations made by the researcher to ensure that there are no additional explanations. This appears to be what the imaginative variation phase of a phenomenological research methodology seeks to do.