Interweaving narrative inquiry, a longitudinal design and insider research: Ethical considerations

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This presentation will focus on the ethical considerations arising in my AHRC-RLUK Professional Practice fellowship: “Once Upon a Narrative”.1 This research adopts a qualitative longitudinal research design and explores the lived experiences of four academic librarians in England as they undertake their practitioner-research journey. Narrative inquiry was adopted for this research because it seeks to understand the human experience as “composed and lived over time” 2. Narrative researchers are interested in “how people narrate their own versions of reality”.3 I selected this framework because the stories that librarians tell themselves, as they navigate their journey to become practitioner-researchers, will shape and construct their experiences.4 The longitudinal design involved repeated in-depth interviewing and photo/document elicitation to provide insights into the participants’ research process and transformation over time and space.5

In the United Kingdom, the library and information sector (LIS) has established new opportunities to develop practitioner-research. I entered this research space as insider researcher; I am member of the group under study, an academic librarian and a practitioner-researcher funded through a recently established pathway to develop academic librarians’ skills and capacity to undertake research.6

In this presentation, I will discuss balancing the ethical considerations arising from each aspect of the research design. Narrative inquiry affords the researcher a “springboard for creativity” rather than a set of rigid rules to be followed.7 However, the narrative stories must be authentic and represent the story-giver.8 A longitudinal approach presents ongoing issues of consent, anonymity and cumulative risk.9 Narrative inquiry and insider research both involve the shaping and re-shaping of participant-researcher relationships.2,9 I will share my experiences of navigating the issues of power dynamics, creativity and authenticity, contributing valuable insights to the ongoing discourse exploring narrative inquiry and relational ethics in LIS.10

1.RLUK. AHRC-RLUK Professional Practice Fellows 2023-24 announced. 04 January, 2023.
2.Clandinin DJ. Engaging in narrative inquiry. Developing qualitative inquiry. Left Coast Press; 2013.
3.Taylor SJ, Bogdan R, DeVault M. Introduction to Qualitative Research Methods. Wiley; 2015.
4.Tracy SJ. Qualitative Research Methods. Wiley; 2019.
5.Caine V, Estefan A, Clandinin DJ. Narrative inquiry. SAGE; 2019.
6.RLUK-AHRC. Professional Practice Fellowship Scheme for academic and research libraries. Accessed 24 October 2022,
7.James G. Cul-de-sacs and Narrative Data Analysis – A Less Than Straightforward Journey. The Qualitative Report. 2017/12/03/ 2017;22(12):3102-3117. doi:10.46743/2160-3715/2017.3163
8.Larson CL. Re-presenting the subject: Problems in personal narrative inquiry. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education. 1997/10/01 1997;10(4):455-470. doi:10.1080/095183997237034
9.Neale B. Qualitative Longitudinal Research: Research Methods. Bloomsbury Publishing Plc; 2020.
10.Ford E. Tell Me Your Story: Narrative Inquiry in LIS Research. College & Research Libraries. 2020;81(2):235-247.

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 30 May 2024
Event16th Qualitative and Quantitative Methods in Libraries International Conference - Crete, Chania, Greece
Duration: 28 May 202431 May 2024


Conference16th Qualitative and Quantitative Methods in Libraries International Conference
Abbreviated titleQQML


  • Narrative inquiry
  • Research ethics
  • practitioner-research
  • Poetic inquiry


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