Exploring, Practicing, & Assessing Narrative Research Methods

September 27, 2018 - 3:00pm

Symposium abstract: Narrative methods for research have gained increasing attention in recent decades.  Researchers with vastly different goals and approaches to generating “meaning” have developed tools to collect and analyze narratives in their respective fields. As a means of knowledge generation, narrative testimony calls attention to the dynamism of human understanding and the embeddedness of meaning in a particular context.

As many physicians and scientists have noted, “objective” descriptions and standardized definitions can be inadequate to understand both natural phenomena and human experience. Without narrative insights, qualitative and quantitative representations cannot be made meaningful beyond the immediate context or audience to which they are addressed.

Nevertheless, conflicting attitudes as to the purpose and place of narratives—including whether they should count as “data” on a particular topic—often arise as a subject of debate between experts in intra- and interdisciplinary contexts. What is the value of narrative data—including “anecdotal evidence”—in an age of abundant information and misinformation? Is narrative inquiry a research method in its own right?

Organized by graduate students for graduate students in the health sciences, humanities, and social sciences, as well as faculty and undergraduates, this workshop will explore these questions and introduce tools to incorporate narratives and narrative analysis into research activities and assessments. It will include two panels. The afternoon panel will include researchers from a range of disciplines discussing how they utilize narrative analysis in their research projects or professional practices. They will discuss the goals, working concepts, and limitations of narrative methodologies for empirical research projects and for ensuring patient-centered assessments of medical practices.

The evening panel will offer methodological training to attendees through a live oral history recording session with a guest narrator, followed by discussion of techniques used during the interview.

For additional information about the program and free registration contact bioethics@pitt.edu. Graduate students are especially encouraged to attend