People experience and attribute meaning to life by telling stories. Researchers in many disciplines collect and study these human narratives as part of qualitative research. Narratives exist in many forms: oral histories, collections of personal artifacts, stories, letters, autobiographical and biographical writings and many other narrative data sources. (Reference 1 / 2/3) The goals and objectives of the research project determine the approach to narrative research.
Narrative Analysis Projects
Narrative analysis research involves collecting descriptions of events, usually through observations and interviews. Use this approach when your purpose is to synthesize descriptive data to produce a story -- also known as restorying. Your story shows and tells the outcome of the research by narrating how and why something happens. For instance, a researcher might use this approach to study adolescent drug use in school, explain why it happens and show how a teacher confronts and deals with this problem.
Analysis of Narrative Projects
An analysis of narrative project uses research to find and state themes that reveal general knowledge. For example, you might use this approach to study the effectiveness of certain types of learning environments or to find common themes surrounding teenage pregnancy. One strategy you can use is to collect narratives, analyze and look for motifs -- patterns of behavior and descriptions, key words and emotional experiences that are common to all the stories you collect. A theme might show that one-on-one teaching helps students learn faster than technology based systems.
Interviews and “Restorying”
Record interviews for transcription, takes notes and observe while the participant tells stories in a casual, unstructured manner. Note nuances such as anger or sadness, confusion, laughter. Condense transcription data and annotate key elements such as coping mechanisms or individual efforts to establish communications to solve a problem. Organize the story into chronological order using the same techniques storytellers use: settings, characters, actions, conflicts and resolutions. Invite participant to collaborate on the final version.
Oral History and Journals
Interview participants in a structured way with predetermined questions or construct a timeline. Ask the participant to expand on significant events and to later write descriptions in a journal. Next, combine chronological data and journal entries to form a complete oral history which includes all narrative data.
Collecting Background Narratives
Ask your participants to write an autobiography with background information that shows why and how they engage with life experiences in a certain way. Collect written descriptions of personal and family photographs and discuss the contents of memory boxes. Use this research to formulate approaches to interview questions and techniques and to find ways to structure observations.
Storytelling, Letter Writing and E-mails
Ask participants to share thoughts and stories as an ongoing process in the field, before and after an event such as a class or particular activity related to the research study. During conversations in the field, take observational and verbatim notes. Incorporate field stories with other narrative data such as letters and emails.
- Colorado State University: Ethnography, Observational Research, and Narrative Inquiry; The Writing Studio
- Plymouth University, U.K.: RESIND: Narrative Approaches to Education Research; Pat Sikes and Ken Gale
- Educational Research: Competencies for Analysis and Research; L. R. Gay. et.al.
- Photo Credit Digital Vision./Digital Vision/Getty Images
What Is a Narrative Poem?
Narrative poetry always tells a story. It contains rhythm, rhyme, stress and repetition but differs from other types of poetry because it...
How to Conduct an Oral History Interview
Recording an oral history narrative is a great way to preserve someone's personal experiences. Oral histories have been archived detailing people's experiences...
How to Write a Traffic Accident Report
Traffic accident reports are intended to be accurate and objective accounts of all the specific details of a traffic accident. They are...
How to Do a Narrative Research Essay
Another name for narrative research is “narrative inquiry” because the process requires authors to ask questions and piece together clues. In a...
Difference Between Narrative & Persuasive Essays
Narrative essays tell a story, while persuasive essays attempt to convince readers to believe a certain point of view or take a...
The Two Types of Narrative Point of View
Narrative point of view is the perspective from which the narrator tells a story. The two major narrative points of view are...
Types of Narrative Structures
Stories are powerful and at times even transforming in our lives. Whether we're reading a gripping novel, listening to the yarn of...
Narrative Writing Topics for Kids
Narrative writing is an essential skill for young students. It teaches kids not only how to tell their own stories and communicate...
List of Types of Narratives
A narrative tells a story. Narrative is as ancient as the art of storytelling itself. Drama and poetry from the time of...
Types of Short Story Narratives
A short story author has to choose between telling her story using the voice of one of her characters or assuming a...