The Oxford Mini Dictionary defines narrative as ‘a spoken or written account of something’ (Hawker, 2002: 406). Essentially, ‘narrative meaning is created by noting that something is a ‘part’ of a whole, and that something is a ‘cause’ of something else’ (Polkinghorne, 1988: 6). Narratives provide links, connections, coherence, meaning, sense. Narrative descriptions exhibit human activity as purposeful engagement in the world. Narrative is the type of discourse that draws together diverse events, happenings and actions of human lives’ (Polkinghorne, 1995: 5).Creswell  defines it as a study of experiences “as expressed in lived and told stories of individuals” (Creswell, 2010: 70).

Narrative researchers collect stories, documents, and group conversations about the lived and told experiences of one or two individuals. They record the stories using interview, observation, documents and images and then report the experiences and chronologically order the meaning of those experiences. Narrative research methodology doesn’t follow a rigid process but is described as informal gathering of data.

These are the primary types of narrative:

  • Biographical study, writing and recording the experiences of another person’s life.
  • Autoethnography, in which the writing and recording is done by the subject of the study (e.g., in a journal).
  • Life history, portraying one person’s entire life.
  • Oral history, reflections of events, their causes and effects.