The complexities and affordances of narrative in research texts: Developing narrative awareness with experienced teachers on postgraduate programmes

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


Whilst co-ordinating a 10-year, distance education collaboration between the University of Manchester and the Hellenic Open University, I stumbled across the widespread use of stories by participants (myself included) which seemed to be contributing to our individual and collective attempts to make sense of our often shared collaboration experiences. This storytelling also helped socialise other colleagues into the project. Excited by my discovery, I rashly based my doctoral studies on this narrative aspect of the collaboration. Only then did I realise the complexities as well as affordances of narrative inquiry for my explorations, and only in the process of drafting and crafting my thesis did I recognise the challenge of writing narratively. However, my narrative enthusiasm survived to informed my language teacher educator work with experienced educators (usually TESOL practitioners) studying on postgraduate degrees (masters and doctorates). Typically, their research projects are highly-contextualised, personally-driven explorations of aspects of their professional world and practice. Some of them base their studies on narrative inquiry; more seek to narratively explain their research focus and its relevance to them; and all are assessed, at least in part, often implicitly, on their ability to write narratively in their dissertation or thesis. Their previous, often limited experience of research and their typically one-dimensional view of what constitutes research mean that the complexities of narrative loom large and can derail their efforts as researchers and writers. I try to better prepare them for this. In this paper, I present several examples from recent research texts by my teacher-students to illustrate how their awareness of research narrativity manifests itself in their work. My experience in this area is informing the development of doctoral training materials designed to further contribute to the teachers’ narrative awareness vis-à-vis their research endeavours. I conclude with an outline of these materials.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationNarrative Matters: ‘Storying our world’, Toronto, May 2008.
Publication statusPublished - May 2008
EventNarrative Matters: ‘Storying our world’ - Toronto Canada
Duration: 1 Jan 1824 → …


ConferenceNarrative Matters: ‘Storying our world’
CityToronto Canada
Period1/01/24 → …


  • narrativity and reflexivity of research texts


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