Narrative analysis: how students learn from stories of practice
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Narrative analysis: how students learn from stories of practice

Sharon Lorraine Edwards Senior lecturer, Buckinghamshire New University, Uxbridge, UK

Aim To describe and recommend a variety of data analysis methods when engaging in narrative research using story as an aid to nursing students’ learning.

Background Narrative research methodology is used in many nursing research studies. However, narrative research reports are generally unspecific regarding the analysis and interpretive process.

Discussion This article examines the qualitative analytical approaches of Lieblich et al’s (1998) narrative processes of holistic content and analysis of form, incorporated as overarching theories. To support these theories and to provide a more rounded analytical process, other authors’ work is included. Approaching narrative analysis from different perspectives is recommended. For each cycle of analysis, it is important to conceptualise the analysis using descriptors drawn from the initial literature review and the initial text. Rigour and transparency are foremost, and tables are generated that reflect each stage of the analysis. The final stage of analysis is to clearly report, organise and present findings to reflect the richly varied and diverse potential of stories.

Conclusion Engaging in narrative research and then dealing with the large quantities of data to analyse can be daunting, difficult to manage and appear complex. It is also challenging and rewarding. With clear descriptors, examining the data using multiple lenses can serve to develop a greater level of insight into understanding nursing students’ learning from their clinical experiences, presented as stories, when involved in the care of individuals.

Implications for practice There are many approaches to narrative analysis in nursing research and it can be difficult to establish the main research approach best suited to the study. There is no single way to define narrative analysis and a combination of strategies can be applied.

Nurse Researcher. 23, 3, 18-25. doi: 10.7748/nr.23.3.18.s5

Peer review

This article has been subject to double-blind review and checked using antiplagiarism software

Conflict of interest

None declared

Received: 28 August 2014

Accepted: 19 May 2015

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