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Narrative Data Analysis Qualitative Research

Data analysis is not necessarily tied to hard figures. There is a place for qualitative research and it is extremely important in cognitive science and knowledge theory among other areas of inquiry. Narrative data analysis in opposite to nominal data analysis is an instrument of qualitative research that is more concerned with words than numbers.

statistical data analysis schema

What Is Narrative Data Analysis?

Narrative data analysis is a means of trying to understand how people build their lives and create meaning within the timeframe of their existence. As the title suggests, the information is derived from spoken or written information. This can include interviews, journals, and stories of life experiences. It is not the hard objective data that will would find in the quantitative research. There is not a judgment placed on the narrative that individual; there is no true or false. Instead, the narrative derived from stories and interviews are considered social products. These are to be interpreted to discover how people design and exist in their given space.

The Use of Narrative Inquiry Data Analysis

The collection of data is not the ordinary written questionnaires. Sampling methods used for search can include deviant case sampling, which are extreme cases, or criterion sampling, in which individuals who meet certain criteria are going to be part of the investigation.

The researcher will use interviews that may or may not be very well structured. The important thing with the questions is to generate responses to which the researcher will listen. It is how people interpret events that matters. Lived experience is at the heart of the inquiry. It has obvious use in history, but narrative inquiry data can also be used in medicine as it relates to the patient’s experience. It has value in psychology in helping to better understand how our past experiences shaped behavior.

This form of data analysis is not without its critics. There is a concern that narrative inquiry data analysis will require large amounts of time; more so than standard quantitative methods. Subjectivity is a very real threat to the data. Stories may be revealing but interpretation can depend on the researcher in any possible bias. Narrative data analysis does not have the rigorous structure of the quantitative instruments. This could cause some difficulty with the precision of information collected.

But the value is there because the narrative is more participant oriented and can give a voice to stories often ignored in statistical data analysis. Narrative data analysis is a view of life experience and will draw from ideas found in philosophy and psychology. This is also a learning instrument for the researcher. That individual can learn more about cognitive behavior and what has influence over thought process from the conversations with the participant. Interestingly, researchers discover that they become better writers as a consequence. It is because they have to convey to an audience the stories of the participants.

Narratives can create a sense of interrelationship between researchers and participants. This is a little bit different than cold investigation with the researcher being totally removed. It is important for the researcher to develop engaging questions and try to gently draw information out of the participant. But the power of story as it impacts on educational research and other areas of knowledge study cannot be denied. The narrative data analysis is a highly useful research instrument.

Learn more about narrative inquiry data analysis today!