The opportunity of narrative inquiry for information literacy research: Narrative thinking and storying data

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This presentation will discuss narrative thinking, transformational moments, and the art of crafting stories from data, all explored in my journey into narrative inquiry research. My study 'Once upon a Narrative' adopts an insider researcher approach. I am a member of the group under study as both an academic librarian and a practitioner-researcher. Through a qualitative longitudinal design, I am exploring the lived experiences of four academic librarians as they undertake their practitioner-research journey. As the Library and Information sector has developed promising routes to fund and support practitioner-research (RIVAL; RLUK-AHRC, 2021), I seek to answer the questions: what are the needs of practitioners in this space? And how best can they be met?

Qualitative research provides a holistic understanding of a phenomena (Taylor et al., 2015). Narrative inquiry more specifically allows experience to be studied whilst “in motion” and explores its relational and social dimensions (Clandinin, 2013). This qualitative method is underused in library and information science research (Ford, 2020). Narrative inquiry offers information literacy researchers an opportunity to explore individuals’ personal narratives, uncovering insights into their information literacy practice. This study utilises narrative unstructured, repeated interviews. This approach will provide insights into the ebb and flow of the practitioners’ experiences over time. Unstructured interviews are uncommon in information literacy research (Lloyd, 2021), yet they allow the complexity of experience to unfold (Kim, 2016).

Narrative analysis can include a multitude of approaches to storying data (Caine et al., 2019; Kim, 2016; McCormack, 2004). Narrative thinking allows the researcher to retell participants stories, temporally, creatively and authentically (Kim, 2016). I will discuss how I journey through the narrative inquiry from interview transcripts to a mindset of thinking narratively and how I hope to find authenticity in the storying of data. I will share the benefits and the challenges of undertaking this research approach. Finally, a key output from my research is an annotated bibliography of narrative inquiry resources. This bibliography will be designed to support a novice to undertake this storying approach and will be shared with attendees in the session.

Reference list
Caine, V., Estefan, A., & Clandinin, D. J. (2019). Narrative inquiry. SAGE.
Clandinin, D. J. (2013). Engaging in narrative inquiry. Left Coast Press.
Ford, E. (2020). Tell Me Your Story: Narrative Inquiry in LIS Research. College & Research Libraries, 81(2), 235-247.
Kim, J.-H. (2016). Understanding narrative inquiry : the crafting and analysis of stories as research. SAGE Publications, Inc.
Lloyd, A. (2021). The Qualitative Landscape of Information Literacy Research : Perspectives, Methods and Techniques. Facet Publishing.
McCormack, C. (2004). Storying stories: a narrative approach to in-depth interview conversations. International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 7(3), 219-236.
RIVAL. Retrieved 24 October 2022 from
RLUK-AHRC. (2021). Professional Practice Fellowship Scheme for academic and research libraries. Retrieved 24 October 2022 from
Taylor, S. J., Bogdan, R., & DeVault, M. (2015). Introduction to Qualitative Research Methods. Wiley.

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 26 Mar 2024
EventLILAC: The Information Literacy Conference - Leeds Beckett University, Leeds, United Kingdom
Duration: 25 Mar 202427 Mar 2024
http://The Information Literacy Conference


ConferenceLILAC: The Information Literacy Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


  • Practitioner research
  • Narrative inquiry
  • Poetic inquiry
  • Academic libraries
  • research methods


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