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Narrative Analysis 101

Everything you need to know to get started

By: Ethar Al-Saraf (PhD)| Expert Reviewed By: Eunice Rautenbach (DTech) | March 2023

If you’re new to research, the host of qualitative analysis methods available to you can be a little overwhelming. In this post, we’ll  unpack the sometimes slippery topic of narrative analysis . We’ll explain what it is, consider its strengths and weaknesses , and look at when and when not to use this analysis method. 

Overview: Narrative Analysis

  • What is narrative analysis (simple definition)
  • The two overarching approaches  
  • The strengths & weaknesses of narrative analysis
  • When (and when not) to use it
  • Key takeaways

What Is Narrative Analysis?

Simply put, narrative analysis is a qualitative analysis method focused on interpreting human experiences and motivations by looking closely at the stories (the narratives) people tell in a particular context.

In other words, a narrative analysis interprets long-form participant responses or written stories as data, to uncover themes and meanings . That data could be taken from interviews, monologues, written stories, or even recordings. In other words, narrative analysis can be used on both primary and secondary data to provide evidence from the experiences described.

That’s all quite conceptual, so let’s look at an example of how narrative analysis could be used.

Let’s say you’re interested in researching the beliefs of a particular author on popular culture. In that case, you might identify the characters , plotlines , symbols and motifs used in their stories. You could then use narrative analysis to analyse these in combination and against the backdrop of the relevant context.

This would allow you to interpret the underlying meanings and implications in their writing, and what they reveal about the beliefs of the author. In other words, you’d look to understand the views of the author by analysing the narratives that run through their work.

Simple definition of narrative analysis

The Two Overarching Approaches

Generally speaking, there are two approaches that one can take to narrative analysis. Specifically, an inductive approach or a deductive approach. Each one will have a meaningful impact on how you interpret your data and the conclusions you can draw, so it’s important that you understand the difference.

First up is the inductive approach to narrative analysis.

The inductive approach takes a bottom-up view , allowing the data to speak for itself, without the influence of any preconceived notions . With this approach, you begin by looking at the data and deriving patterns and themes that can be used to explain the story, as opposed to viewing the data through the lens of pre-existing hypotheses, theories or frameworks. In other words, the analysis is led by the data.

For example, with an inductive approach, you might notice patterns or themes in the way an author presents their characters or develops their plot. You’d then observe these patterns, develop an interpretation of what they might reveal in the context of the story, and draw conclusions relative to the aims of your research.

Contrasted to this is the deductive approach.

With the deductive approach to narrative analysis, you begin by using existing theories that a narrative can be tested against . Here, the analysis adopts particular theoretical assumptions and/or provides hypotheses, and then looks for evidence in a story that will either verify or disprove them.

For example, your analysis might begin with a theory that wealthy authors only tell stories to get the sympathy of their readers. A deductive analysis might then look at the narratives of wealthy authors for evidence that will substantiate (or refute) the theory and then draw conclusions about its accuracy, and suggest explanations for why that might or might not be the case.

Which approach you should take depends on your research aims, objectives and research questions . If these are more exploratory in nature, you’ll likely take an inductive approach. Conversely, if they are more confirmatory in nature, you’ll likely opt for the deductive approach.

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what is narrative report in qualitative research

Strengths & Weaknesses

Now that we have a clearer view of what narrative analysis is and the two approaches to it, it’s important to understand its strengths and weaknesses , so that you can make the right choices in your research project.

A primary strength of narrative analysis is the rich insight it can generate by uncovering the underlying meanings and interpretations of human experience. The focus on an individual narrative highlights the nuances and complexities of their experience, revealing details that might be missed or considered insignificant by other methods.

Another strength of narrative analysis is the range of topics it can be used for. The focus on human experience means that a narrative analysis can democratise your data analysis, by revealing the value of individuals’ own interpretation of their experience in contrast to broader social, cultural, and political factors.

All that said, just like all analysis methods, narrative analysis has its weaknesses. It’s important to understand these so that you can choose the most appropriate method for your particular research project.

The first drawback of narrative analysis is the problem of subjectivity and interpretation . In other words, a drawback of the focus on stories and their details is that they’re open to being understood differently depending on who’s reading them. This means that a strong understanding of the author’s cultural context is crucial to developing your interpretation of the data. At the same time, it’s important that you remain open-minded in how you interpret your chosen narrative and avoid making any assumptions .

A second weakness of narrative analysis is the issue of reliability and generalisation . Since narrative analysis depends almost entirely on a subjective narrative and your interpretation, the findings and conclusions can’t usually be generalised or empirically verified. Although some conclusions can be drawn about the cultural context, they’re still based on what will almost always be anecdotal data and not suitable for the basis of a theory, for example.

Last but not least, the focus on long-form data expressed as stories means that narrative analysis can be very time-consuming . In addition to the source data itself, you will have to be well informed on the author’s cultural context as well as other interpretations of the narrative, where possible, to ensure you have a holistic view. So, if you’re going to undertake narrative analysis, make sure that you allocate a generous amount of time to work through the data.

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When To Use Narrative Analysis

As a qualitative method focused on analysing and interpreting narratives describing human experiences, narrative analysis is usually most appropriate for research topics focused on social, personal, cultural , or even ideological events or phenomena and how they’re understood at an individual level.

For example, if you were interested in understanding the experiences and beliefs of individuals suffering social marginalisation, you could use narrative analysis to look at the narratives and stories told by people in marginalised groups to identify patterns , symbols , or motifs that shed light on how they rationalise their experiences.

In this example, narrative analysis presents a good natural fit as it’s focused on analysing people’s stories to understand their views and beliefs at an individual level. Conversely, if your research was geared towards understanding broader themes and patterns regarding an event or phenomena, analysis methods such as content analysis or thematic analysis may be better suited, depending on your research aim .

what is narrative report in qualitative research

Let’s recap

In this post, we’ve explored the basics of narrative analysis in qualitative research. The key takeaways are:

  • Narrative analysis is a qualitative analysis method focused on interpreting human experience in the form of stories or narratives .
  • There are two overarching approaches to narrative analysis: the inductive (exploratory) approach and the deductive (confirmatory) approach.
  • Like all analysis methods, narrative analysis has a particular set of strengths and weaknesses .
  • Narrative analysis is generally most appropriate for research focused on interpreting individual, human experiences as expressed in detailed , long-form accounts.

If you’d like to learn more about narrative analysis and qualitative analysis methods in general, be sure to check out the rest of the Grad Coach blog here . Alternatively, if you’re looking for hands-on help with your project, take a look at our 1-on-1 private coaching service .

what is narrative report in qualitative research

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You Might Also Like:

Research aims, research objectives and research questions

Thanks. I need examples of narrative analysis

Derek Jansen

Here are some examples of research topics that could utilise narrative analysis:

Personal Narratives of Trauma: Analysing personal stories of individuals who have experienced trauma to understand the impact, coping mechanisms, and healing processes.

Identity Formation in Immigrant Communities: Examining the narratives of immigrants to explore how they construct and negotiate their identities in a new cultural context.

Media Representations of Gender: Analysing narratives in media texts (such as films, television shows, or advertisements) to investigate the portrayal of gender roles, stereotypes, and power dynamics.

Yvonne Worrell

Where can I find an example of a narrative analysis table ?

Belinda

Please i need help with my project,

Mst. Shefat-E-Sultana

how can I cite this article in APA 7th style?

Towha

please mention the sources as well.

Bezuayehu

My research is mixed approach. I use interview,key_inforamt interview,FGD and document.so,which qualitative analysis is appropriate to analyze these data.Thanks

Which qualitative analysis methode is appropriate to analyze data obtain from intetview,key informant intetview,Focus group discussion and document.

Michael

I’ve finished my PhD. Now I need a “platform” that will help me objectively ascertain the tacit assumptions that are buried within a narrative. Can you help?

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Research Method

Home » Narrative Analysis – Types, Methods and Examples

Narrative Analysis – Types, Methods and Examples

Table of Contents

Narrative Analysis

Narrative Analysis

Definition:

Narrative analysis is a qualitative research methodology that involves examining and interpreting the stories or narratives people tell in order to gain insights into the meanings, experiences, and perspectives that underlie them. Narrative analysis can be applied to various forms of communication, including written texts, oral interviews, and visual media.

In narrative analysis, researchers typically examine the structure, content, and context of the narratives they are studying, paying close attention to the language, themes, and symbols used by the storytellers. They may also look for patterns or recurring motifs within the narratives, and consider the cultural and social contexts in which they are situated.

Types of Narrative Analysis

Types of Narrative Analysis are as follows:

Content Analysis

This type of narrative analysis involves examining the content of a narrative in order to identify themes, motifs, and other patterns. Researchers may use coding schemes to identify specific themes or categories within the text, and then analyze how they are related to each other and to the overall narrative. Content analysis can be used to study various forms of communication, including written texts, oral interviews, and visual media.

Structural Analysis

This type of narrative analysis focuses on the formal structure of a narrative, including its plot, character development, and use of literary devices. Researchers may analyze the narrative arc, the relationship between the protagonist and antagonist, or the use of symbolism and metaphor. Structural analysis can be useful for understanding how a narrative is constructed and how it affects the reader or audience.

Discourse Analysis

This type of narrative analysis focuses on the language and discourse used in a narrative, including the social and cultural context in which it is situated. Researchers may analyze the use of specific words or phrases, the tone and style of the narrative, or the ways in which social and cultural norms are reflected in the narrative. Discourse analysis can be useful for understanding how narratives are influenced by larger social and cultural structures.

Phenomenological Analysis

This type of narrative analysis focuses on the subjective experience of the narrator, and how they interpret and make sense of their experiences. Researchers may analyze the language used to describe experiences, the emotions expressed in the narrative, or the ways in which the narrator constructs meaning from their experiences. Phenomenological analysis can be useful for understanding how people make sense of their own lives and experiences.

Critical Analysis

This type of narrative analysis involves examining the political, social, and ideological implications of a narrative, and questioning its underlying assumptions and values. Researchers may analyze the ways in which a narrative reflects or reinforces dominant power structures, or how it challenges or subverts those structures. Critical analysis can be useful for understanding the role that narratives play in shaping social and cultural norms.

Autoethnography

This type of narrative analysis involves using personal narratives to explore cultural experiences and identity formation. Researchers may use their own personal narratives to explore issues such as race, gender, or sexuality, and to understand how larger social and cultural structures shape individual experiences. Autoethnography can be useful for understanding how individuals negotiate and navigate complex cultural identities.

Thematic Analysis

This method involves identifying themes or patterns that emerge from the data, and then interpreting these themes in relation to the research question. Researchers may use a deductive approach, where they start with a pre-existing theoretical framework, or an inductive approach, where themes are generated from the data itself.

Narrative Analysis Conducting Guide

Here are some steps for conducting narrative analysis:

  • Identify the research question: Narrative analysis begins with identifying the research question or topic of interest. Researchers may want to explore a particular social or cultural phenomenon, or gain a deeper understanding of a particular individual’s experience.
  • Collect the narratives: Researchers then collect the narratives or stories that they will analyze. This can involve collecting written texts, conducting interviews, or analyzing visual media.
  • Transcribe and code the narratives: Once the narratives have been collected, they are transcribed into a written format, and then coded in order to identify themes, motifs, or other patterns. Researchers may use a coding scheme that has been developed specifically for the study, or they may use an existing coding scheme.
  • Analyze the narratives: Researchers then analyze the narratives, focusing on the themes, motifs, and other patterns that have emerged from the coding process. They may also analyze the formal structure of the narratives, the language used, and the social and cultural context in which they are situated.
  • Interpret the findings: Finally, researchers interpret the findings of the narrative analysis, and draw conclusions about the meanings, experiences, and perspectives that underlie the narratives. They may use the findings to develop theories, make recommendations, or inform further research.

Applications of Narrative Analysis

Narrative analysis is a versatile qualitative research method that has applications across a wide range of fields, including psychology, sociology, anthropology, literature, and history. Here are some examples of how narrative analysis can be used:

  • Understanding individuals’ experiences: Narrative analysis can be used to gain a deeper understanding of individuals’ experiences, including their thoughts, feelings, and perspectives. For example, psychologists might use narrative analysis to explore the stories that individuals tell about their experiences with mental illness.
  • Exploring cultural and social phenomena: Narrative analysis can also be used to explore cultural and social phenomena, such as gender, race, and identity. Sociologists might use narrative analysis to examine how individuals understand and experience their gender identity.
  • Analyzing historical events: Narrative analysis can be used to analyze historical events, including those that have been recorded in literary texts or personal accounts. Historians might use narrative analysis to explore the stories of survivors of historical traumas, such as war or genocide.
  • Examining media representations: Narrative analysis can be used to examine media representations of social and cultural phenomena, such as news stories, films, or television shows. Communication scholars might use narrative analysis to examine how news media represent different social groups.
  • Developing interventions: Narrative analysis can be used to develop interventions to address social and cultural problems. For example, social workers might use narrative analysis to understand the experiences of individuals who have experienced domestic violence, and then use that knowledge to develop more effective interventions.

Examples of Narrative Analysis

Here are some examples of how narrative analysis has been used in research:

  • Personal narratives of illness: Researchers have used narrative analysis to examine the personal narratives of individuals living with chronic illness, to understand how they make sense of their experiences and construct their identities.
  • Oral histories: Historians have used narrative analysis to analyze oral histories to gain insights into individuals’ experiences of historical events and social movements.
  • Children’s stories: Researchers have used narrative analysis to analyze children’s stories to understand how they understand and make sense of the world around them.
  • Personal diaries : Researchers have used narrative analysis to examine personal diaries to gain insights into individuals’ experiences of significant life events, such as the loss of a loved one or the transition to adulthood.
  • Memoirs : Researchers have used narrative analysis to analyze memoirs to understand how individuals construct their life stories and make sense of their experiences.
  • Life histories : Researchers have used narrative analysis to examine life histories to gain insights into individuals’ experiences of migration, displacement, or social exclusion.

Purpose of Narrative Analysis

The purpose of narrative analysis is to gain a deeper understanding of the stories that individuals tell about their experiences, identities, and beliefs. By analyzing the structure, content, and context of these stories, researchers can uncover patterns and themes that shed light on the ways in which individuals make sense of their lives and the world around them.

The primary purpose of narrative analysis is to explore the meanings that individuals attach to their experiences. This involves examining the different elements of a story, such as the plot, characters, setting, and themes, to identify the underlying values, beliefs, and attitudes that shape the story. By analyzing these elements, researchers can gain insights into the ways in which individuals construct their identities, understand their relationships with others, and make sense of the world.

Narrative analysis can also be used to identify patterns and themes across multiple stories. This involves comparing and contrasting the stories of different individuals or groups to identify commonalities and differences. By analyzing these patterns and themes, researchers can gain insights into broader cultural and social phenomena, such as gender, race, and identity.

In addition, narrative analysis can be used to develop interventions that address social and cultural problems. By understanding the stories that individuals tell about their experiences, researchers can develop interventions that are tailored to the unique needs of different individuals and groups.

Overall, the purpose of narrative analysis is to provide a rich, nuanced understanding of the ways in which individuals construct meaning and make sense of their lives. By analyzing the stories that individuals tell, researchers can gain insights into the complex and multifaceted nature of human experience.

When to use Narrative Analysis

Here are some situations where narrative analysis may be appropriate:

  • Studying life stories: Narrative analysis can be useful in understanding how individuals construct their life stories, including the events, characters, and themes that are important to them.
  • Analyzing cultural narratives: Narrative analysis can be used to analyze cultural narratives, such as myths, legends, and folktales, to understand their meanings and functions.
  • Exploring organizational narratives: Narrative analysis can be helpful in examining the stories that organizations tell about themselves, their histories, and their values, to understand how they shape the culture and practices of the organization.
  • Investigating media narratives: Narrative analysis can be used to analyze media narratives, such as news stories, films, and TV shows, to understand how they construct meaning and influence public perceptions.
  • Examining policy narratives: Narrative analysis can be helpful in examining policy narratives, such as political speeches and policy documents, to understand how they construct ideas and justify policy decisions.

Characteristics of Narrative Analysis

Here are some key characteristics of narrative analysis:

  • Focus on stories and narratives: Narrative analysis is concerned with analyzing the stories and narratives that people tell, whether they are oral or written, to understand how they shape and reflect individuals’ experiences and identities.
  • Emphasis on context: Narrative analysis seeks to understand the context in which the narratives are produced and the social and cultural factors that shape them.
  • Interpretive approach: Narrative analysis is an interpretive approach that seeks to identify patterns and themes in the stories and narratives and to understand the meaning that individuals and communities attach to them.
  • Iterative process: Narrative analysis involves an iterative process of analysis, in which the researcher continually refines their understanding of the narratives as they examine more data.
  • Attention to language and form : Narrative analysis pays close attention to the language and form of the narratives, including the use of metaphor, imagery, and narrative structure, to understand the meaning that individuals and communities attach to them.
  • Reflexivity : Narrative analysis requires the researcher to reflect on their own assumptions and biases and to consider how their own positionality may shape their interpretation of the narratives.
  • Qualitative approach: Narrative analysis is typically a qualitative research method that involves in-depth analysis of a small number of cases rather than large-scale quantitative studies.

Advantages of Narrative Analysis

Here are some advantages of narrative analysis:

  • Rich and detailed data : Narrative analysis provides rich and detailed data that allows for a deep understanding of individuals’ experiences, emotions, and identities.
  • Humanizing approach: Narrative analysis allows individuals to tell their own stories and express their own perspectives, which can help to humanize research and give voice to marginalized communities.
  • Holistic understanding: Narrative analysis allows researchers to understand individuals’ experiences in their entirety, including the social, cultural, and historical contexts in which they occur.
  • Flexibility : Narrative analysis is a flexible research method that can be applied to a wide range of contexts and research questions.
  • Interpretive insights: Narrative analysis provides interpretive insights into the meanings that individuals attach to their experiences and the ways in which they construct their identities.
  • Appropriate for sensitive topics: Narrative analysis can be particularly useful in researching sensitive topics, such as trauma or mental health, as it allows individuals to express their experiences in their own words and on their own terms.
  • Can lead to policy implications: Narrative analysis can provide insights that can inform policy decisions and interventions, particularly in areas such as health, education, and social policy.

Limitations of Narrative Analysis

Here are some of the limitations of narrative analysis:

  • Subjectivity : Narrative analysis relies on the interpretation of researchers, which can be influenced by their own biases and assumptions.
  • Limited generalizability: Narrative analysis typically involves in-depth analysis of a small number of cases, which limits its generalizability to broader populations.
  • Ethical considerations: The process of eliciting and analyzing narratives can raise ethical concerns, particularly when sensitive topics such as trauma or abuse are involved.
  • Limited control over data collection: Narrative analysis often relies on data that is already available, such as interviews, oral histories, or written texts, which can limit the control that researchers have over the quality and completeness of the data.
  • Time-consuming: Narrative analysis can be a time-consuming research method, particularly when analyzing large amounts of data.
  • Interpretation challenges: Narrative analysis requires researchers to make complex interpretations of data, which can be challenging and time-consuming.
  • Limited statistical analysis: Narrative analysis is typically a qualitative research method that does not lend itself well to statistical analysis.

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what is narrative report in qualitative research

The Ultimate Guide to Qualitative Research - Part 2: Handling Qualitative Data

what is narrative report in qualitative research

  • Handling qualitative data
  • Transcripts
  • Field notes
  • Survey data and responses
  • Visual and audio data
  • Data organization
  • Data coding
  • Coding frame
  • Auto and smart coding
  • Organizing codes
  • Qualitative data analysis
  • Content analysis

Thematic analysis

  • Thematic analysis vs. content analysis
  • Introduction

Types of narrative research

Research methods for a narrative analysis, narrative analysis, considerations for narrative analysis.

  • Phenomenological research
  • Discourse analysis
  • Grounded theory
  • Deductive reasoning
  • Inductive reasoning
  • Inductive vs. deductive reasoning
  • Qualitative data interpretation
  • Qualitative analysis software

Narrative analysis in research

Narrative analysis is an approach to qualitative research that involves the documentation of narratives both for the purpose of understanding events and phenomena and understanding how people communicate stories.

what is narrative report in qualitative research

Let's look at the basics of narrative research, then examine the process of conducting a narrative inquiry and how ATLAS.ti can help you conduct a narrative analysis.

Qualitative researchers can employ various forms of narrative research, but all of these distinct approaches utilize perspectival data as the means for contributing to theory.

A biography is the most straightforward form of narrative research. Data collection for a biography generally involves summarizing the main points of an individual's life or at least the part of their history involved with events that a researcher wants to examine. Generally speaking, a biography aims to provide a more complete record of an individual person's life in a manner that might dispel any inaccuracies that exist in popular thought or provide a new perspective on that person’s history. Narrative researchers may also construct a new biography of someone who doesn’t have a public or online presence to delve deeper into that person’s history relating to the research topic.

The purpose of biographies as a function of narrative inquiry is to shed light on the lived experience of a particular person that a more casual examination of someone's life might overlook. Newspaper articles and online posts might give someone an overview of information about any individual. At the same time, a more involved survey or interview can provide sufficiently comprehensive knowledge about a person useful for narrative analysis and theoretical development.

Life history

This is probably the most involved form of narrative research as it requires capturing as much of the total human experience of an individual person as possible. While it involves elements of biographical research, constructing a life history also means collecting first-person knowledge from the subject through narrative interviews and observations while drawing on other forms of data , such as field notes and in-depth interviews with others.

Even a newspaper article or blog post about the person can contribute to the contextual meaning informing the life history. The objective of conducting a life history is to construct a complete picture of the person from past to present in a manner that gives your research audience the means to immerse themselves in the human experience of the person you are studying.

Oral history

While all forms of narrative research rely on narrative interviews with research participants, oral histories begin with and branch out from the individual's point of view as the driving force of data collection .

Major events like wars and natural disasters are often observed and described at scale, but a bird's eye view of such events may not provide a complete story. Oral history can assist researchers in providing a unique and perhaps unexplored perspective from in-depth interviews with a narrator's own words of what happened, how they experienced it, and what reasons they give for their actions. Researchers who collect this sort of information can then help fill in the gaps common knowledge may not have grasped.

The objective of an oral history is to provide a perspective built on personal experience. The unique viewpoint that personal narratives can provide has the potential to raise analytical insights that research methods at scale may overlook. Narrative analysis of oral histories can hence illuminate potential inquiries that can be addressed in future studies.

what is narrative report in qualitative research

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To conduct narrative analysis, researchers need a narrative and research question . A narrative alone might make for an interesting story that instills information, but analyzing a narrative to generate knowledge requires ordering that information to identify patterns, intentions, and effects.

Narrative analysis presents a distinctive research approach among various methodologies , and it can pose significant challenges due to its inherent interpretative nature. Essentially, this method revolves around capturing and examining the verbal or written accounts and visual depictions shared by individuals. Narrative inquiry strives to unravel the essence of what is conveyed by closely observing the content and manner of expression.

Furthermore, narrative research assumes a dual role, serving both as a research technique and a subject of investigation. Regarded as "real-world measures," narrative methods provide valuable tools for exploring actual societal issues. The narrative approach encompasses an individual's life story and the profound significance embedded within their lived experiences. Typically, a composite of narratives is synthesized, intermingling and mutually influencing each other.

what is narrative report in qualitative research

Designing a research inquiry

Sometimes, narrative research is less about the storyteller or the story they are telling than it is about generating knowledge that contributes to a greater understanding of social behavior and cultural practices. While it might be interesting or useful to hear a comedian tell a story that makes their audience laugh, a narrative analysis of that story can identify how the comedian constructs their narrative or what causes the audience to laugh.

As with all research, a narrative inquiry starts with a research question that is tied to existing relevant theory regarding the object of analysis (i.e., the person or event for which the narrative is constructed). If your research question involves studying racial inequalities in university contexts, for example, then the narrative analysis you are seeking might revolve around the lived experiences of students of color. If you are analyzing narratives from children's stories, then your research question might relate to identifying aspects of children's stories that grab the attention of young readers. The point is that researchers conducting a narrative inquiry do not do so merely to collect more information about their object of inquiry. Ultimately, narrative research is tied to developing a more contextualized or broader understanding of the social world.

Data collection

Having crafted the research questions and chosen the appropriate form of narrative research for your study, you can start to collect your data for the eventual narrative analysis.

what is narrative report in qualitative research

Needless to say, the key point in narrative research is the narrative. The story is either the unit of analysis or the focal point from which researchers pursue other methods of research. Interviews and observations are great ways to collect narratives. Particularly with biographies and life histories, one of the best ways to study your object of inquiry is to interview them. If you are conducting narrative research for discourse analysis, then observing or recording narratives (e.g., storytelling, audiobooks, podcasts) is ideal for later narrative analysis.

Triangulating data

If you are collecting a life history or an oral history, then you will need to rely on collecting evidence from different sources to support the analysis of the narrative. In research, triangulation is the concept of drawing on multiple methods or sources of data to get a more comprehensive picture of your object of inquiry.

While a narrative inquiry is constructed around the story or its storyteller, assertions that can be made from an analysis of the story can benefit from supporting evidence (or lack thereof) collected by other means.

Even a lack of supporting evidence might be telling. For example, suppose your object of inquiry tells a story about working minimum wage jobs all throughout college to pay for their tuition. Looking for triangulation, in this case, means searching through records and other forms of information to support the claims being put forth. If it turns out that the storyteller's claims bear further warranting - maybe you discover that family or scholarships supported them during college - your analysis might uncover new inquiries as to why the story was presented the way it was. Perhaps they are trying to impress their audience or construct a narrative identity about themselves that reinforces their thinking about who they are. The important point here is that triangulation is a necessary component of narrative research to learn more about the object of inquiry from different angles.

Conduct data analysis for your narrative research with ATLAS.ti.

Dedicated research software like ATLAS.ti helps the researcher catalog, penetrate, and analyze the data generated in any qualitative research project. Start with a free trial today.

This brings us to the analysis part of narrative research. As explained above, a narrative can be viewed as a straightforward story to understand and internalize. As researchers, however, we have many different approaches available to us for analyzing narrative data depending on our research inquiry.

In this section, we will examine some of the most common forms of analysis while looking at how you can employ tools in ATLAS.ti to analyze your qualitative data .

Qualitative research often employs thematic analysis , which refers to a search for commonly occurring themes that appear in the data. The important point of thematic analysis in narrative research is that the themes arise from the data produced by the research participants. In other words, the themes in a narrative study are strongly based on how the research participants see them rather than focusing on how researchers or existing theory see them.

ATLAS.ti can be used for thematic analysis in any research field or discipline. Data in narrative research is summarized through the coding process , where the researcher codes large segments of data with short, descriptive labels that can succinctly describe the data thematically. The emerging patterns among occurring codes in the perspectival data thus inform the identification of themes that arise from the collected narratives.

Structural analysis

The search for structure in a narrative is less about what is conveyed in the narrative and more about how the narrative is told. The differences in narrative forms ultimately tell us something useful about the meaning-making epistemologies and values of the people telling them and the cultures they inhabit.

Just like in thematic analysis, codes in ATLAS.ti can be used to summarize data, except that in this case, codes could be created to specifically examine structure by identifying the particular parts or moves in a narrative (e.g., introduction, conflict, resolution). Code-Document Analysis in ATLAS.ti can then tell you which of your narratives (represented by discrete documents) contain which parts of a common narrative.

It may also be useful to conduct a content analysis of narratives to analyze them structurally. English has many signal words and phrases (e.g., "for example," "as a result," and "suddenly") to alert listeners and readers that they are coming to a new step in the narrative.

In this case, both the Text Search and Word Frequencies tools in ATLAS.ti can help you identify the various aspects of the narrative structure (including automatically identifying discrete parts of speech) and the frequency in which they occur across different narratives.

Functional analysis

Whereas a straightforward structural analysis identifies the particular parts of a narrative, a functional analysis looks at what the narrator is trying to accomplish through the content and structure of their narrative. For example, if a research participant telling their narrative asks the interviewer rhetorical questions, they might be doing so to make the interviewer think or adopt the participant's perspective.

A functional analysis often requires the researcher to take notes and reflect on their experiences while collecting data from research participants. ATLAS.ti offers a dedicated space for memos , which can serve to jot down useful contextual information that the researcher can refer to while coding and analyzing data.

Dialogic analysis

There is a nuanced difference between what a narrator tries to accomplish when telling a narrative and how the listener is affected by the narrative. There may be an overlap between the two, but the extent to which a narrative might resonate with people can give us useful insights about a culture or society.

The topic of humor is one such area that can benefit from dialogic analysis, considering that there are vast differences in how cultures perceive humor in terms of how a joke is constructed or what cultural references are required to understand a joke.

Imagine that you are analyzing a reading of a children's book in front of an audience of children at a library. If it is supposed to be funny, how do you determine what parts of the book are funny and why?

The coding process in ATLAS.ti can help with dialogic analysis of a transcript from that reading. In such an analysis, you can have two sets of codes, one for thematically summarizing the elements of the book reading and one for marking when the children laugh.

The Code Co-Occurrence Analysis tool can then tell you which codes occur during the times that there is laughter, giving you a sense of what parts of a children's narrative might be funny to its audience.

Narrative analysis and research hold immense significance within the realm of social science research, contributing a distinct and valuable approach. Whether employed as a component of a comprehensive presentation or pursued as an independent scholarly endeavor, narrative research merits recognition as a distinctive form of research and interpretation in its own right.

Subjectivity in narratives

what is narrative report in qualitative research

It is crucial to acknowledge that every narrative is intricately intertwined with its cultural milieu and the subjective experiences of the storyteller. While the outcomes of research are undoubtedly influenced by the individual narratives involved, a conscientious adherence to narrative methodology and a critical reflection on one's research can foster transparent and rigorous investigations, minimizing the potential for misunderstandings.

Rather than striving to perceive narratives through an objective lens, it is imperative to contextualize them within their sociocultural fabric. By doing so, an analysis can embrace the diverse array of narratives and enable multiple perspectives to illuminate a phenomenon or story. Embracing such complexity, narrative methodologies find considerable application in social science research.

Connecting narratives to broader phenomena

In employing narrative analysis, researchers delve into the intricate tapestry of personal narratives, carefully considering the multifaceted interplay between individual experiences and broader societal dynamics.

This meticulous approach fosters a deeper understanding of the intricate web of meanings that shape the narratives under examination. Consequently, researchers can uncover rich insights and discern patterns that may have remained hidden otherwise. These can provide valuable contributions to both theory and practice.

In summary, narrative analysis occupies a vital position within social science research. By appreciating the cultural embeddedness of narratives, employing a thoughtful methodology, and critically reflecting on one's research, scholars can conduct robust investigations that shed light on the complexities of human experiences while avoiding potential pitfalls and fostering a nuanced understanding of the narratives explored.

Turn to ATLAS.ti for your narrative analysis.

Researchers can rely on ATLAS.ti for conducting qualitative research. See why with a free trial.

Narrative Inquiry, Phenomenology, and Grounded Theory in Qualitative Research

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what is narrative report in qualitative research

  • Rabiul Islam 4 &
  • Md. Sayeed Akhter 5  

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Narrative inquiry, phenomenology, and grounded theory are the basic types of qualitative research. This chapter discusses the three major types of qualitative research—narrative inquiry, phenomenology, and grounded theory. Firstly, this chapter briefly discusses the issue of qualitative research and types. Secondly, it offers a conceptual understanding of narrative inquiry, phenomenology, and grounded theory including their basic characteristics. Finally, the chapter provides an outline of how these three types of qualitative research are applied in the field.

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Islam, R., Sayeed Akhter, M. (2022). Narrative Inquiry, Phenomenology, and Grounded Theory in Qualitative Research. In: Islam, M.R., Khan, N.A., Baikady, R. (eds) Principles of Social Research Methodology. Springer, Singapore. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-19-5441-2_8

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Methods for Conducting and Publishing Narrative Research With Undergraduates

Azriel grysman.

1 Psychology Department, Hamilton College, Clinton, NY, United States

Jennifer Lodi-Smith

2 Department of Psychological Sciences and Institute for Autism Research, Canisius College, Buffalo, NY, United States

Introduction

Narrative research systematically codes individual differences in the ways in which participants story crucial events in their lives to understand the extent to which they create meaning and purpose (McAdams, 2008 ). These narrative descriptions of life events address a diverse array of topics, such as personality (McAdams and Guo, 2015 ), development (Fivush et al., 2006 ), clinical applications (Banks and Salmon, 2013 ), well-being (Adler et al., 2016 ), gender (Grysman et al., 2016 ), and older adult memory decline (Levine et al., 2002 ).

Narrative research is an ideal way to involve undergraduate students as contributors to broader projects and often as co-authors. In narrative or mixed method research, undergraduates have the opportunity to think critically about methodology during study construction and implementation, and then by engaging with questions of construct validity when exploring how different methods yield complementary data on one topic. In narrative research in psychology, students collect data, as in many traditional psychology laboratories, but they collect either typed or spoken narratives and then extensively code narratives before quantitative data analysis can occur. Narrative research thus provides a unique opportunity to blend the psychological realities captured by qualitative data with the rigors of quantitative methods.

Narrative researchers start by establishing the construct of interest, deciding when coding narratives for this construct is the most effective form of measurement, rather than a questionnaire or some other form of assessment. A coding manual is developed or adopted, and all coders study the manual, practice implementing it, and discuss the process and any disagreements until the team is confident that all coders are implementing the rules in a similar way. A reliability set is then initiated, such that coders assess a group of narratives from the data of interest independently, compare their codes, and conduct reliability statistics (e.g., Intraclass coefficient, Cohen's kappa). When a predetermined threshold of agreement has been reached and a sufficient percentage of the narrative data has been coded, the two raters are deemed sufficiently similar, disagreements are resolved (by conversation or vote), and one coder completes the remainder of the narrative data. Readers are directed to Syed and Nelson ( 2015 ) and to Adler et al. ( 2017 ) for further details regarding this process, as these papers provide greater depth regarding best practices coding.

Narrative Coding in an Undergraduate Laboratory: Common Challenges and Best Practices

When are students co-authors.

Narrative coding requires heavy investment of time and energy from the student, but time and energy are not the only qualities that matter when deciding on authorship. Because students are often shielded from hypotheses for the duration of coding in order to maintain objectivity and to not bias them in their coding decisions, researchers may be in a bind when data finally arrive; they want to move toward writing but students are not yet sufficiently knowledgeable to act as co-authors. Kosslyn ( 2002 ) outlines six criteria for establishing authorship (see also Fine and Kurdek, 1993 ), and includes a scoring system for the idea, design, implementation (i.e., creation of materials), conducting the experiment, data analysis, and writing. A student who puts countless hours into narrative coding has still only contributed to conducting the experiment or data analysis. If the goal is including students as authors, researchers should consider these many stages as entry points into the research process. After coding has completed, students should read background literature while data are analyzed and be included in the writing process, as detailed below (see “the route to publishing”). In addition, explicit conversations with students about their roles and expectations in a project are always advised.

Roadblocks to Student Education

One concern of a researcher managing a narrative lab is communicating the goals and methods of the interrater process to student research assistants, who have likely never encountered a process like this before. Adding to this challenge is the fact that often researchers shield undergraduates from the study's hypotheses to reduce bias and maintain their objectivity, which can serve as a roadblock both for students' education and involvement in the project and for their ability to make decisions in borderline cases. Clearly communicating the goals and methods involved in a coding project are essential, as is planning for the time needed to orient students to the hypotheses after coding if they are to be included in the later steps of data analysis and writing. In the following two sections, we expand on challenges that arise in this vein and how we have addressed them.

Interpersonal Dynamics

A critical challenge in the interrater process addresses students' experience of power relationships, self-esteem, and internalization of the coding process. In the early stages, students often disagree on how to code a given narrative. Especially when the professor mediates these early disagreements, students might feel intimidated by a professor who sides with one student more consistently than another. Furthermore, disagreeing with a fellow student may be perceived as putting them down; students often hedge explanations with statements like “I was on the fence between those two,” and “you're probably right.” These interpersonal concerns must be addressed early in the coding process, with the goal of translating a theoretical construct into guidelines for making difficult decisions with idiosyncratic data. In the course of this process, students make the most progress by explaining their assumptions and decision process, to help identify points of divergence. Rules-of-thumb that are established in this process will be essential for future cases, increasing agreement but also creating a shared sense of coding goals so that it can be implemented consistently in new circumstances. Thus, interpersonal concerns and intimidation undermine the interrater process by introducing motivations for picking a particular code, ultimately creating a bias in the name of saving face and achieving agreement rather than leading toward agreement because of a shared representation of micro-level decisions that support the coding system.

Clearly communicating the goal of the interrater process is key to establishing a productive coding environment, mitigating the pitfalls described above. One of us (AG) begins coding meetings by discussing the goals of the interrater process, emphasizing that disagreeing ultimately helps us clarify assumptions and prevents future disagreements. If the professor agrees with one person more than another, it is not a sign of favoritism or greater intelligence. Given the novelty of the coding task and undergraduate students' developmental stage, students sometimes need reassurance emphasizing that some people are better at some coding systems than others, or even that some are better coders, and that these skills should not be connected to overall worth.

The next set of challenges pertains to students' own life settings. Depending on the structure of research opportunities in a given department, students work limited hours per week on a project, are commonly only available during the academic semester, and are often pulled by competing commitments. Researchers should establish a framework to help students stay focused on the coding project and complete a meaningful unit of coding before various vacations, semesters abroad, or leaving the laboratory to pursue other interests. This paper discusses best practices that help circumvent these pitfalls, but we recommend designing projects with them in mind. Some coding systems are better suited to semester-long commitments of 3 h per week whereas others need larger time commitments, such as from students completing summer research. It is helpful to identify RAs' long-term plans across semesters, knowing who is going abroad, who expects to stay in the lab, and assigning projects accordingly.

Building a robust collaborative environment can shape an invested team who will be engaged in the sustained efforts needed for successful narrative research. In one of our labs (JLS), general lab meetings are conducted to discuss coding protocols and do collaborative practice. Then an experienced coder is paired with a new lab member. The experienced coder codes while walking the new coder through the decision process for a week's worth of assigned coding. The new coder practices on a standard set of practice narratives under the supervision of the experienced coder, discussing the process throughout. The new coder's work is checked for agreement with published codes and years of other practice coders. The new coder then codes new narratives under the supervision of the experienced coder for 2 weeks or until comfortable coding independently. The most experienced and conscientious junior applies for an internal grant each year to be the lab manager during senior year. This lab manager assigns weekly coding and assists with practical concerns. Coding challenges are discussed at weekly lab meetings. More experienced coders also lead weekly “discrepancy meetings” where two or three trained coders review discrepancies in a coded data set and come to a consensus rating. Such meetings give the students further learning and leadership opportunities. These meetings are done in small teams to accommodate the students' differing schedules and help build understanding of the constructs and a good dynamic in the team.

The Route to Publishing With Undergraduates in Narrative Psychology

When coding has successfully been completed, researchers then have the opportunity to publish their work with undergraduates. When talented students are involved on projects, the transition to writing completes their research experience. A timeline should be established and a process clearly identified: who is the lead author? Is that person writing the whole manuscript and the second author editing or are different sections being written? We have considered all these approaches depending on the abilities and circumstances of the undergraduate. In one example Grysman and Denney ( 2017 ), AG sent successive sections to the student for editing throughout the writing process. In another, because of the student's ability in quantitative analysis and figure creation (Grysman and Dimakis, 2018 ), the undergraduate took the lead on results, and edited the researcher's writing for the introduction and discussion. In a third (Meisels and Grysman, submitted), the undergraduate more centrally designed the study as an honors thesis, and is writing up the manuscript while the researcher edits and writes the heavier statistics and methodological pieces. In another example, Lodi-Smith et al. ( 2009 ) archival open-ended responses were available to code for new constructs, allowing for a shorter project time frame than collecting new narrative data. The undergraduate student's three-semester honors thesis provided the time, scope, and opportunity to code and analyze archival narratives of personality change during college. As narrative labs often have a rich pool of archival data from which new studies can emerge, they can be a rich source of novel data for undergraduate projects.

In sum, there isn't one model of how to yield publishable work, but once the core of a narrative lab has been established, the researcher can flexibly include undergraduates in the writing process to differing degrees. As in other programs of research, students have the opportunity to learn best practices in data collection and analysis in projects they are not actively coding. Because of the need to keep coders blind to study hypotheses it is often helpful to maintain multiple projects in different points of development. Students can gain experience across the research process helping collect new data, coding existing narratives, and analyzing and writing up the coding of previous cohorts of students.

Most importantly, narrative research gives students an opportunity to learn about individuals beyond what they learn in the systematic research process and outcomes of their research. The majority of undergraduate research assistants are not going on to careers as psychologists conducting academic research on narrative identity. Many undergraduate psychology students will work in clinical/counseling settings, in social work, or in related mental health fields. The skills learned in a narrative research lab can generalize far beyond the specific goals of the research team. By reading individual narratives, students and faculty have the opportunity to learn about the lived life, hearing the reality in how people story trauma, success, challenges, and change. They can begin to see subtlety and nuance beyond their own experience and come to appreciate the importance of asking questions and learning from the answers.

Author Contributions

All authors listed have made a substantial, direct and intellectual contribution to the work, and approved it for publication.

Conflict of Interest Statement

The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.

Funding. Funding for this article is supported by an internal grant from Hamilton College.

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What is a Qualitative Narrative Inquiry Design?

Tips for using narrative inquiry in a dissertation, summary of the elements of a qualitative narrative inquiry design, sampling and data collection, resource videos.

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Narrative inquiry is relatively new among the qualitative research designs compared to qualitative case study, phenomenology, ethnography, and grounded theory. What distinguishes narrative inquiry is it beings with the biographical aspect of C. Wright Mills’ trilogy of ‘biography, history, and society’(O’Tolle, 2018). The primary purpose for a narrative inquiry study is participants provide the researcher with their life experiences through thick rich stories. Narrative inquiry was first used by Connelly and Calandinin as a research design to explore the perceptions and personal stories of teachers (Connelly & Clandinin, 1990). As the seminal authors, Connelly & Clandinin (1990), posited:

Although narrative inquiry has a long intellectual history both in and out of education, it is increasingly used in studies of educational experience. One theory in educational research holds that humans are storytelling organisms who, individually and socially, lead storied lives. Thus, the study of narrative is the study of the ways humans experience the world. This general concept is refined into the view that education and educational research is the construction and reconstruction of personal and social stories; learners, teachers, and researchers are storytellers and characters in their own and other's stories. In this paper we briefly survey forms of narrative inquiry in educational studies and outline certain criteria, methods, and writing forms, which we describe in terms of beginning the story, living the story, and selecting stories to construct and reconstruct narrative plots. 

Attribution: Reprint Policy for Educational Researcher: No written or oral permission is necessary to reproduce a tale, a figure, or an excerpt fewer that 500 words from this journal, or to make photocopies for classroom use. Copyright (1990) by the American Educational Research Association; reproduced with permission from the publisher. 

The popularity of narrative inquiry in education is increasing as a circular and pedagogical strategy that lends itself to the practical application of research (Kim, 2016). Keep in mind that by and large practical and professional benefits that arise from a narrative inquiry study revolve around exploring the lived experiences of educators, education administrators, students, and parents or guardians. According to Dunne (2003), 

Research into teaching is best served by narrative modes of inquiry since to understand the teacher’s practice (on his or her own part or on the part of an observer) is to find an illuminating story (or stories) to tell of what they have been involved with their student” (p. 367).

  • Temporality – the time of the experiences and how the experiences could influence the future;
  • Sociality – cultural and personal influences of the experiences; and;
  • Spatiality – the environmental surroundings during the experiences and their influence on the experiences. 

From Haydon and van der Riet (2017)

  • Narrative researchers collect stories from individuals retelling of their life experiences to a particular phenomenon. 
  • Narrative stories may explore personal characteristics or identities of individuals and how they view themselves in a personal or larger context.
  • Chronology is often important in narrative studies, as it allows participants to recall specific places, situations, or changes within their life history.

Sampling and Sample Size

  • Purposive sampling is the most often used in narrative inquiry studies. Participants must meet a form of requirement that fits the purpose, problem, and objective of the study
  • There is no rule for the sample size for narrative inquiry study. For a dissertation the normal sample size is between 6-10 participants. The reason for this is sampling should be terminated when no new information is forthcoming, which is a common strategy in qualitative studies known as sampling to the point of redundancy.

Data Collection (Methodology)

  • Participant and researcher collaborate through the research process to ensure the story told and the story align.
  • Extensive “time in the field” (can use Zoom) is spent with participant(s) to gather stories through multiple types of information including, field notes, observations, photos, artifacts, etc.
  • Field Test is strongly recommended. The purpose of a field study is to have a panel of experts in the profession of the study review the research protocol and interview questions to ensure they align to the purpose statement and research questions.
  • Member Checking is recommended. The trustworthiness of results is the bedrock of high-quality qualitative research. Member checking, also known as participant or respondent validation, is a technique for exploring the credibility of results. Data or results are returned to participants to check for accuracy and resonance with their experiences. Member checking is often mentioned as one in a list of validation techniques (Birt, et al., 2016).

Narrative Data Collection Essentials

  • Restorying is the process of gathering stories, analyzing themes for key elements (e.g., time, place, plot, and environment) and then rewriting the stories to place them within a chronological sequence (Ollerenshaw & Creswell, 2002).
  • Narrative thinking is critical in a narrative inquiry study. According to Kim (2016), the premise of narrative thinking comprises of three components, the storyteller’s narrative schema, his or her prior knowledge and experience, and cognitive strategies-yields a story that facilitates an understanding of the others and oneself in relation to others.

Instrumentation

  • In qualitative research the researcher is the primary instrument.
  • In-depth, semi-structured interviews are the norm. Because of the rigor that is required for a narrative inquiry study, it is recommended that two interviews with the same participant be conducted. The primary interview and a follow-up interview to address any additional questions that may arise from the interview transcriptions and/or member checking.

Birt, L., Scott, S., Cavers, D., Campbell, C., & Walter, F. (2016). Member checking: A tool to enhance trustworthiness or merely a nod to validation? Qualitative Health Research, 26 (13), 1802-1811. http://dx.doi.org./10.1177/1049732316654870

Cline, J. M. (2020). Collaborative learning for students with learning disabilities in inclusive classrooms: A qualitative narrative inquiry study (Order No. 28263106). Available from ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global. (2503473076). 

Connelly, F. M., & Clandinin, D. J. (1990). Stories of Experience and Narrative Inquiry. Educational Researcher, 19 (5), 2–14. https://doi.org/10.1080/03323315.2018.1465839

Dunne, J. (2003). Arguing for teaching as a practice: A reply to Alasdair Macintyre. Journal of Philosophy of Education . https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-9752.00331 

Haydon, G., & der Riet, P. van. (2017). Narrative inquiry: A relational research methodology suitable to explore narratives of health and illness. Nordic Journal of Nursing Research , 37(2), 85–89. https://doi.org/10.1177/2057158516675217

Kim, J. H. (2016). Understanding Narrative Inquiry: The crafting and analysis of stories as research. Sage Publications. 

Kim J. H. (2017). Jeong-Hee Kim discusses narrative methods [Video]. SAGE Research Methods Video https://www-doi-org.proxy1.ncu.edu/10.4135/9781473985179

O’ Toole, J. (2018). Institutional storytelling and personal narratives: reflecting on the value of narrative inquiry. Institutional Educational Studies, 37 (2), 175-189. https://doi.org/10.1080/03323315.2018.1465839

Ollerenshaw, J. A., & Creswell, J. W. (2002). Narrative research: A comparison of two restorying data analysis approaches. Qualitative Inquiry, 8 (3), 329–347. 

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what is narrative report in qualitative research

Narrative Analysis: Methods and Examples

Narrative analysis is a powerful qualitative research tool. Narrative research can uncover behaviors, feelings and motivations that aren’t expressed explicitly….

What Is Narrative Research

Narrative analysis is a powerful qualitative research tool. Narrative research can uncover behaviors, feelings and motivations that aren’t expressed explicitly. It also provides rich linguistic data that may shed light on various aspects of cultural or social phenomena.

Narrative analysis provides researchers with detailed information about their subjects that they couldn’t get through other methods. Narrative analysis in qualitative research reveals hidden motivations that aren’t easy to perceive directly. This is especially true in research conducted with cultural subjects where the researcher must peel the many layers of a culture.

Let’s look at how narrative research is performed, what it can tell us about the subject, and some examples of narrative research.

What Is Narrative Research?

Examples of narrative research, difference between narrative analysis and case study, analyzing results in the narrative method.

Narrative analysis is a form of qualitative research in which the researcher focuses on a topic and analyzes the data collected from case studies, surveys, observations or other similar methods. The researchers write their findings, then review and analyze them.

To conduct narrative analysis, researchers must understand the background, setting, social and cultural context of the research subjects. This gives researchers a better idea of what their subjects mean in their narration. It’s especially true in context-rich research where there are many hidden layers of meaning that can only be uncovered by an in-depth understanding of the culture or environment.

Before starting narrative research, researchers need to know as much about their research subjects as possible. They interview key informants and collect large amounts of text from them. They even use other sources, such as existing literature and personal recollections.

From this large base of information, researchers choose a few instances they feel are good examples of what they want to talk about and then analyze them in depth.

Through this approach, researchers can gain a holistic view of the subject’s life and activities. It can show what motivates people and provide a better view of the society that the subjects live in by enabling researchers to see how individuals interact with one another.

  • It’s been used by researchers to study indigenous peoples of various countries, such as the Maori in New Zealand.
  • It can be used in medicine. Researchers, for instance, can study how doctors communicate with their patients during end-of-life care.
  • The narrative model has been used to explore the relationship between music and social change in East Africa.
  • Narrative research is being used to explore the differences in emotions experienced by different generations in Japanese society.

Through these examples of narrative research, we can see its nature and how it fills a gap left by other research methods.

Many people confuse narrative analysis in qualitative research with case studies. Here are some key differences between the two:

  • A case study examines one context in depth, whereas narrative research explores how a subject has acted in various contexts across time
  • Case studies are often longer and more detailed, but they rarely provide an overview of the subject’s life or experiences
  • Narrative analysis implies that researchers are observing several instances that encompass the subject’s life, which is why it provides a richer view of things

Both tools can give similar results, but there are some differences that lead researchers to choose one or the other or, perhaps, even both in their research design.

Once the narratives have been collected, researchers notice certain patterns and themes emerging as they read and analyze the text. They note these down, compare them with other research on the subject, figure out how it all fits together and then find a theory that can explain these findings.

Many social scientists have used narrative research as a valuable tool to analyze their concepts and theories. This is mainly because narrative analysis is a more thorough and multifaceted method. It helps researchers not only build a deeper understanding of their subject, but also helps them figure out why people act and react as they do.

Storytelling is a central feature of narrative research. The narrative interview is an interactive conversation. This process can be very intimate and sometimes bring about powerful emotions from both parties. Therefore, this form of qualitative research isn’t suitable for everyone. The interviewer needs to be a good listener and must understand the interview process. The interviewee also needs to be comfortable to be able to provide authentic narratives.

Understanding what kind of research to use is a powerful tool for a manager. We can use narrative analysis in many ways. Narrative research is a multifaceted method that has the potential to show different results based on the researcher’s intentions for their study.

Learning how to use such tools will improve the productivity of teams. Harappa’s Thinking Critically course will show you the way. Learners will understand how to better process information and consider different perspectives in their analysis, which will allow for better-informed decision making. Our faculty will provide real-world insights to ensure an impactful learning experience that takes professionals at every stage of their careers to the next level.

Explore Harappa Diaries to learn more about topics such as Phenomenological Research , Types Of Survey Research , Examples Of Correlational Research and Tips to Improve your Analytical Skills to upgrade your knowledge and skills.

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  1. Narrative Analysis

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COMMENTS

  1. Narrative Analysis Explained Simply (With Examples)

    Let's recap. In this post, we've explored the basics of narrative analysis in qualitative research. The key takeaways are: Narrative analysis is a qualitative analysis method focused on interpreting human experience in the form of stories or narratives.; There are two overarching approaches to narrative analysis: the inductive (exploratory) approach and the deductive (confirmatory) approach.

  2. Narrative Analysis

    Definition: Narrative analysis is a qualitative research methodology that involves examining and interpreting the stories or narratives people tell in order to gain insights into the meanings, experiences, and perspectives that underlie them. Narrative analysis can be applied to various forms of communication, including written texts, oral ...

  3. PDF Five Qualitative Approaches to Inquiry

    Narrative research has many forms, uses a variety of analytic practices, ... in qualitative research (Chase, 2005), with a specific focus on the stories told by individuals (Polkinghorne, 1995). As Pinnegar and Daynes (2006) sug-gest, narrative can be both a method and the phenomenonof study. As a ... Whereas a narrative study reports the life ...

  4. Critical Narrative Inquiry: An Examination of a Methodological Approach

    Narrative inquiry is deeply embedded in reflexivity—an ongoing, active process that permeates every stage of the research (Guillemin & Gillam, 2004). The primary purpose of this study is to focus on storytelling in the form of narrative inquiry within knowledge paradigms, methodology, quality criteria, and reflexivity that would better inform ...

  5. PDF Essentials of Narrative Analysis

    Narrative analysis is a method with a particular history and epistemology, and it is designed to answer certain types of research questions. As part of the growing recognition of the value and legitimacy of qualitative inquiry in psychology, narrative analysis is becoming increasingly articulated and refined.

  6. How to Conduct Narrative Research

    Narrative analysis in research. Narrative analysis is an approach to qualitative research that involves the documentation of narratives both for the purpose of understanding events and phenomena and understanding how people communicate stories. Collecting narrative data means focusing on individual research participants to understand particular ...

  7. Planning Qualitative Research: Design and Decision Making for New

    While many books and articles guide various qualitative research methods and analyses, there is currently no concise resource that explains and differentiates among the most common qualitative approaches. We believe novice qualitative researchers, students planning the design of a qualitative study or taking an introductory qualitative research course, and faculty teaching such courses can ...

  8. A Narrative Approach to Qualitative Inquiry

    Narrative inquiry is a form of qualitative research in which the stories themselves become the raw data.3 This approach has been used in many disciplines to learn more about the culture, historical experiences, identity, and lifestyle… 1. Provide an example of when narrative inquiry would be the most appropriate qualitative research approach. 2.

  9. Narrative Research

    Even though narrative research shares features of other qualitative research approaches such as the social focus in ethnography and the focus on experience in phenomenology, it is the simultaneous exploration of all the three elements: temporality, sociality, and place that shape and make narrative research/inquiry.

  10. PDF Listening to people's stories: the use of narrative in qualitative

    sociology, qualitative method is often portrayed in broad strokes that blur differ-ences' (Gubrium and Holstein, 1997: 5). Before embarking on a detailed explo-ration of the use of narrative within in-depth interviews,it is therefore helpful to bring the major differences within the qualitative research enterprise into sharper

  11. Narrative Reviews: Flexible, Rigorous, and Practical

    Introduction. Narrative reviews are a type of knowledge synthesis grounded in a distinct research tradition. They are often framed as non-systematic, which implies that there is a hierarchy of evidence placing narrative reviews below other review forms. 1 However, narrative reviews are highly useful to medical educators and researchers. While a systematic review often focuses on a narrow ...

  12. PDF Comparing the Five Approaches

    ory most specific, narrative research less defined) but the number of steps to be under-taken can vary (e.g., extensive steps in phenomenology, fewer steps in ethnography). The research reporting of each approach, the written report, takes shape from . all the processes before it (see Table 4.3). Stories about an individual's life comprise ...

  13. PDF Introduction What is narrative research?

    The antecedents of contemporary narrative social research are commonly located in two parallel academic moves (Andrews et al., 2004; Rustin, 2000).1 The first is the post-war rise of humanist approaches within western sociology and psychology. These approaches posed holistic, person-centred approaches, often including attention to individual ...

  14. (PDF) Narrative Research

    Even though narrative research shares features of other qualitative research approaches such as the social focus in ethnography and the focus on experience in phenomenology, it is the simultaneous ...

  15. PDF Reporting Qualitative Research in Psychology

    qualitative research is influenced by the purpose of a research project and the research ... and qualitative research, they emphasize the need to report how these methods work together to enhance understanding. ... bine sections and may opt to use a narrative format in papers. The second column of

  16. Narrative Research Evolving: Evolving Through Narrative Research

    Narrative research methodology is evolving, and we contend that the notion of emergent design is vital if narrative inquiry (NI) is to continue flourishing in generating new knowledge. We situate the discussion within the narrative turn in qualitative research while drawing on experiences of conducting a longitudinal narrative study. The ...

  17. Narrative Inquiry, Phenomenology, and Grounded Theory in Qualitative

    Qualitative research is an advanced field of study. The key aim of this chapter was to discuss the three major types of qualitative research—narrative inquiry, phenomenology, and grounded theory. This chapter firstly provided a brief discussion on qualitative research, its philosophical foundations, and types. Secondly, it provided a ...

  18. Methods for Conducting and Publishing Narrative Research With

    Narrative research thus provides a unique opportunity to blend the psychological realities captured by qualitative data with the rigors of quantitative methods. Background Narrative researchers start by establishing the construct of interest, deciding when coding narratives for this construct is the most effective form of measurement, rather ...

  19. LibGuides: Chapter 3: Qualitative Narrative Inquiry Research

    Narrative inquiry is relatively new among the qualitative research designs compared to qualitative case study, phenomenology, ethnography, and grounded theory. What distinguishes narrative inquiry is it beings with the biographical aspect of C. Wright Mills' trilogy of 'biography, history, and society' (O'Tolle, 2018).

  20. Narrative Analysis: Methods and Examples

    Narrative analysis is a form of qualitative research in which the researcher focuses on a topic and analyzes the data collected from case studies, surveys, observations or other similar methods. The researchers write their findings, then review and analyze them. To conduct narrative analysis, researchers must understand the background, setting ...

  21. Designing Narrative Research

    Narrative inquiry embraces narrative as both the method and phenomena of study. Through the attention to methods for analyzing and understanding stories lived and told, it can be connected and placed under the label of qualitative research methodology. Narrative inquiry begins in experience as expressed in lived and told stories.

  22. What Is Qualitative Research?

    Qualitative research involves collecting and analyzing non-numerical data (e.g., text, video, or audio) to understand concepts, opinions, or experiences. It can be used to gather in-depth insights into a problem or generate new ideas for research. Qualitative research is the opposite of quantitative research, which involves collecting and ...

  23. What is Narrative Analysis in Qualitative Research?

    What is narrative analysis in qualitative research? Researchers use narrative analysis to understand how research participants construct story and narrative from their own personal experience. That means there is a dual layer of interpretation in narrative analysis. First the research participants interpret their own lives through narrative.