A Narrative Analysis Method

Tuesday, 13 July 2010: 4:25 PM

J. Carol Elliott, PhD, PMHCNS-BC, CNE, RN
Nursing Dept, Saint Anselm College, Manchester, NH

Learning Objective 1: discuss a narrative analysis method for examining participants' stories.

Learning Objective 2: describe two research techniques that assist in data collection and analysis when using a narrative analysis reseach method.


Research into everyday language to discover meaning is fundamental to professions interested in understanding human experience (Polkinghorne, 1988). Narrative analysis (NA) is an important addition to nursing’s qualitative methodologies (McCance, McKenna, & Boore, 2001). This abstract’s purpose is to describe a NA method.

Methods: There are numerous NA approaches and theoretical perspectives (Lieblich, Tuval-Mashiach, & Zilber, 1998). NA lacks the prescribed procedures of other qualitative methods (Riessman, 1993). Depending on the discipline and problem, the researcher benefits from a choice among the various methods, and also, to combine several approaches (Elliott, 2005). NA’s diversity is both positive and negative, especially to the researcher new to the method.

Texts describing NA’s philosophical and theoretical perspectives are abundant. NA typologies allow researchers to compare the problems, functions, and techniques of the different approaches. For the unfamiliar researcher, little information exits to describe its use.


Researchers can use visual aids to elicit narratives and to facilitate contextual description (Riessman, 1993). Gee (1991) suggests examining the psycholinguistic evidence found in the stories. This author proposes to explain a NA method of data analysis, using photo-interviewing and psycholinguistics.