Rethinking Texts: Narrative and the Construction of Qualitative Research

Dec. 10, 2009

Source: Educational Researcher, Vol. 38, Iss. 9; pg. 680-686. (Dec 2009).
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

This article outlines how a theory of narrative can be used to deconstruct qualitative research texts.

The authors’ goals in this article are twofold: First, the authors consider qualitative research within the framework of narrative. Second, the authors examine the ways in which narrative constructs can be used in teaching qualitative research.

Although research texts are a distinct genre in comparison with works of fiction, the basic components of literary activity are similar. Researchers structure and emphasize data and participants in various ways to tell a logical story. Narrative analysis offers a specific framework and terminology that researchers can use to construct texts. Ultimately, such tools can prepare qualitative researchers to make intentional choices in regard to writing.

The authors define the narratological concepts of character, plot, story, and focalization. The authors discuss how these concepts can be used to teach qualitative research methods.


The authors conclude that an examination of narrative theory provides tools for both readers and writers. Because narrative elements can be articulated in both reading and writing tasks, they may also be useful for teachers and students of qualitative research. Ultimately, narrative constructs offer another set of lenses that can assist scholars as they address, with greater intention and attention, their central role as writers and meaning-makers in the research process.

Updated: May. 09, 2010