Refining the Narrative Turn: When does story-telling become research?

Paper presented at the Gerontological Society of American, Nov. 16, 2012, San Diego

The narrative turn has generated interest in several disciplines, along with a range of methodological approaches that claim to represent narrative research. Some of these can only be generously termed “research,” while others give little more than a nod to “narrative.” As narrative research matures, its boundaries must be more clearly defined.  This paper examines definitional issues and proposes three criteria for good narrative research; arguing first, that in-person data collection should use appropriate initiating prompts while giving the story-teller sufficient time and freedom to present a coherent narrative; second, that data analysis should address not only the content, but also the form of the narrative; and third, that interpretation of data should acknowledge the context of the story-telling, as well as its narrative intent. The process of boundary definition will be further clarified by exploring the possibility of co-authorship between researcher and story-teller and the treatment of the researcher’s own narrative.

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Other resources are listed and reviewed on the page titled, “Books and Articles on Narrative Inquiry.”


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