The analytic hierarchy refers to the process through which qualitative 'findings' are built from the original raw data. It is described as a form of conceptual scaffolding within which the structure of the analysis is formed. The process is iterative and thus constant movement up and down the hierarchy is needed. The analytic process requires three forms of activity: data management in which the raw data are reviewed, labelled, sorted and synthesised; descriptive accounts in which the analyst makes use of the ordered data to identifying key dimensions, map the range and diversity of each phenomenon and develop classifications and typologies; and explanatory accounts in which the analyst builds explanations about why the data take the forms that are found and presented.
Source: Miles, M. B., Huberman, A. M., & Saldana, J. (2013). Qualitative data analysis. Sage.