The Construction Zone: Literary Elements in Narrative Research

Nov. 30, 2009

Source: Educational Researcher, Vol. 38, Iss. 8; pg. 577-590. (Nov 2009).
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

Narrative research has become part of the landscape of education inquiry, yet its theory and practice are still debated and evolving.
This article addresses a single aspect of narrative research: the construction of narratives as representations of research studies, using literary elements and devices common to nonfiction and fiction texts.
The authors discuss these elements and use four narratives to illustrate them.

The authors address how literary elements intersect with more familiar practices of generating and analyzing evidence to reveal themes. The authors also relate these intersections with wider issues about what can be known from research and how it can be learned.
They conclude this article with some remarks on intersections, fractures, and continuities in the practice and theory space of narrative research.

Narrative and Qualitative Research: Evidence and Analysis
The authors see commonalities between narrative and qualitative research.
Narrative researchers and qualitative researchers share an orientation to data analysis as a complex transaction between researcher and evidence, the ends of which are provisional and fallible.

Both probe the themes, hypotheses, categories, and assertions that emerge from analysis to see how they stand up to the weight of evidence and counterclaims. Both judge their work on characteristics of verisimilitude, fidelity, coherence, plausibility, usefulness, and evidentiary warrant. They seek to test their accounts with participants and peers.

The authors also see commonalities in the ways that qualitative and narrative researchers analyze evidence and choose what parts of die evidence will go into their representations.

Updated: May. 09, 2010