Simply put, narrative research consists of studies in which the primary data source is some type of subject provided narrative; for example, as in a discourse between one or more people on a particular subject, or a conversational storytelling (Mishler, 1995). According to Mishler (1995), narrative studies are essentially of three types:
(1) those in which the research focus is upon the time between when the event occurred and the narrative in which it is discussed;
(2) those in which the focus is upon strategies used to tell the story and/or the textual and structural elements of the narrative; and
(3) those in which the function of the narrative is considered along with its contextual, cultural and political elements.
Regarding these three types, Mishler (1995) has suggested that more inclusive research strategies should combine these research types thereby furthering and strengthening developments in the field of narrative study.
However, another approach to more fully understanding the strengths and the weaknesses of narrative research might be to analyze diverse types of research using this methodology; and, in particular, to analyze narrative research done by those who are best known in the field for their work with respect to this methodology. The purpose of this paper is to present such an analysis.
Narrative Research: An Analysis of Methods and Findings
Booth and Booth (1996) have conducted many studies using narrative research; they are particularly interested in the difficulties that arise when subjects are inarticulate. In this study, Booth and Booth present detailed interview material from a narrative of a young, inarticulate English man.
In their analysis of the man's responses to the interview, they conclude that there are certain problems which would manifest themselves in any type of narrative research with subjects who are not especially verbal. These problems are said to ...