Narrative Approach in a Qualitative Framework
The current report studies the narrative approach in a qualitative framework, its characteristics, content and structure, main advantages and disadvantages, theoretical explanation and practical issues. Moreover, an example of a research study using the narrative approach is provided in this paper, so the essence of the mentioned qualitative method can be clearly and easily understood. In particular, the given report uses Carrie Mitchell’s research study (2011), in which there was a narrative inquiry of the lives of five women from Mugu, Nepal. Also, this report highlights specific ethical issues and other problems which individuals, researchers or narrators may face during the narrative analysis. Additionally, there were mentioned ways to overcome ethical issues which rose earlier (Forrester, 2010).
The narrative approach, which appears to be the one of the qualitative approaches, refers to a special interpretative and qualitative method of data collection and analysis. This approach evolved through constant dynamic interference between research questions, experiences, conversations, reflections and theories.
Hence the truly distinctive qualities of “narrative” texts are the sequence and consequence; all the events that appear are thoroughly selected, connected with each other and organized as meaningful parts of a more complicated entity. However, this approach has its own pros and cons, but its real sociological and interpretative value is indisputable (Silverman, 2001).
A Statement of the Narrative Method and What It Involves
The narrative method is a kind of qualitative framework analysis that operates with various empirical-based stories of individuals, ethical or racial groups, social organizations, scientists or other professionals, where they tell about their life experiences.
The narrative approach, basing on the appropriate materials, raises essential questions, which are aimed at discovering the cornerstones of the individuals’ lives, their values and fears. Such a discovery appears when the object of study enables to identify the individuals’ conditions, to observe and study their in-story projectiles, focusing on how the events and actions influence and make sense in their lives.
The narrative method involves the following elements:
a) the narrator of the story; the author can change the narrative approaches and methods depending on his aims and desires;
b) the way how the narrator reacts to the key events and main characters of the story (Boje, 2011); this means that the narrator can either support or judge some individuals in his/her research.
An Example of One Research Study that Has Used the Narrative Method with a Discussion of How the Study Has Used the Method
An appropriate example of a research study that uses the narrative approach in a qualitative framework is Mitchell’s (2011) study, which focused on the life narratives of five women from Mugu, the remote Himalayan district of Nepal. This research paper examined the life experiences of women from Nepal, their inner feelings, traditions, educational level and other peculiarities about them (Braun & Clarke, 2013).
Issues of representation and different ethical challenges involved in the research process as well as struggles relating to voice and personality appear to be the real essence of the study.
A Critical Evaluation of the Narrative Method
The narrative analysis is constant and continual. There may be times when the researcher is more explicit about the process or engaged in a more deliberately conscious way, but narrative analysis is not a distinct stage of the research process. In other words, it is not perfect (Willig, 2008).
The story about women from Nepal was presented in report to justify how and why particular research decisions were made in this very research study using the narrative approach of a qualitative framework. Due to the fact that the story did not proceed in a straight line from the abstract to conclusion, it was rather complicated to clearly separate different stages in the research process or just to present distinct sections of writing under traditional headings.
The Strengths and Problems Associated with the Narrative Method
The narrative method of qualitative framework is probably the simplest and oldest method of assessing knowledge and different information. However, while the whole qualitative system of evaluation performance is simple and straightforward, the narrative approach has both serious advantages and disadvantages. Advantages of this method include more complete information comparing to other qualitative research methods, the process of gathering the necessary information is clear and simple, and the efficiency of feedback is very high. With regard to Mitchell’s research study (2011), the example of advantages of the narrative method is that the information acquired from the research study is really full of details and it grants the possibility to imagine the real life conditions of the five women from Nepal.
Among the disadvantages, there can be identified the necessity to spend a lot of time on the evaluation process and peculiarities about the type of narrator, his influence on the results of the narrative approach. In the given case, the key events were described through the perception of the narrator, therefore, the results of the study were connected with the presented author’s point of view to some extent.
A Brief Discussion of Ethical Issues Associated with the Narrative Method and How These Could Be Overcome
During the narrative or any other qualitative research process various ethical considerations appear at all possible stages and such a tendency is absolutely normal. This happens due to the fact that ethics relate to both informed people and researchers because if the research questions are developed without considering the ethics involved, the researcher may find that they cannot practically conduct the study. Ethics in research relate both to informants and researchers. Therefore, it is important to consider ethical issues when doing this type of research since people will be entrusting the scientist with their personal life experiences, which at times might be very sensitive (Smith, 2008). Therefore, it is definitely important for researchers and other connected individuals to be concerned with ethics.
This report has analyzed the concept of narrative research and provided an insight into its content, structures and key functions. It has used Carrie Mitchell’s research study, which employed the narrative approach in a qualitative framework, so that the essential features of the approach of narrative inquiries have been discovered with maximum efficiency.
Finally, the paper has considered the ethical issues surrounding narrative inquiry and criticism connected with the usage of this form of the qualitative approach.
Boje, D. (2011). Narrative methods for organizational & communication research. London: Sage Pub.
Braun, V., & Clarke, V. (2013). Successful qualitative research: A practical guide for beginners. London: Sage.
Forrester, M.A. (2010). Doing qualitative research in psychology: A practical guide. Los Angeles, CA: Sage.
Mitchell, C. (2011). A narrative inquiry of women’s lives in Mugu, Nepal: identities, power relations and education (Submitted for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy). Queen’s University Belfast. Retrieved from http://www.iiqm.ualberta.ca/en/DissertationAward/~/media/International%20Institute%20for%20Qualitative%20Methodology/Dissertation/Carrie_Mitchell_PhD_thesis.pdf
Silverman, D. (2001). Interpreting qualitative data: Methods for analysing talk, text and interaction. London: Sage Publications.
Smith, J.A. (2008). Qualitative psychology: A practical guide to research methods (2nd ed.). Los Angeles, CA: Sage.
Willig, C. (2008). Introducing qualitative research in psychology (2nd ed.). Berkshire: Open University Press/McGraw-Hill.