Challenges and solutions during analysis in a longitudinal narrative case study

Charlotte Jane Whiffin*, Chris Bailey, Caroline Ellis-Hill, Nikki Jarrett

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aim: To describe the challenges faced by those performing complex qualitative analysis during a narrative study and to offer solutions.

Background: Qualitative research requires rigorous analysis. However, novice researchers often struggle to identify appropriately robust analytical procedures that will move them from their transcripts to their final findings. The lack of clear and detailed accounts in the literature that consider narrative analysis and how to address some of the common challenges researchers face add to this problem.

Data sources: A longitudinal narrative case study exploring the personal and familial changes reported by uninjured family members during the first year of another family member's traumatic brain injury. Review methods This is a methodological paper.

Discussion: The challenges of analysis included: conceptualising analysis; demonstrating the relationship between the different analytical layers and the final research findings; interpreting the data in a way that reflected the priorities of a narrative approach; and managing large quantities of data. The solutions explored were: the mapping of analytic intentions; aligning analysis and interpretation with the conceptual framework; and the use of matrices to store and manage quotes, codes and reflections. Conclusion Working with qualitative data can be daunting for novice researchers. Ensuring rigorous, transparent, and auditable data analysis procedures can further constrain the interpretive aspect of analysis. Implications for research/practice The solutions offered in this paper should help novice researchers to manage and work with their data, assisting them to develop the confidence to be more intuitive and creative in their research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20-62
Number of pages43
JournalNurse Researcher
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 27 Mar 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Data analysis
  • Methodology
  • Narrative inquiry
  • Qualitative research


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