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Don't Try to Include It All

Posted on February 16, 2006

Barbara H. Fiese (bio) talks about how to approach your narrative data.

 

Doing narrative studies is very challenging and the very things that got me into it are also the very things that present a lot of challenges. When you talk to people about their personal lives and you're getting these very emotionally evocative kinds of images of either experiences that have happened to them in the past or how they're handling current crises and situations, it's very compelling, and you can get really drawn into it. And at the same time as a researcher what that means is that it generates an incredible amount of data, so you know I have closetfuls of transcripts and notebooks and notebooks and notebooks of transcripts from different projects. So part of the challenge is figuring out first of all where do you start and how you take this huge amount of information and sort of parse it down into something that's manageable that you can really look at. So I think one of my advices for people who are thinking about going into doing narrative analysis is try to have an understanding that you're not going to be able to examine and evaluate everything that you collect, and don't try to be all inclusive and all comprehensive because otherwise you will be totally overwhelmed.

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Excerpted from interview with researcher in April 2005.

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