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A guide to using narrative to present the findings from historical research

A useful way to present the findings of historical research is to use an interpretive narrative based on the evidence derived from documentary analysis. Students need guidance in acceptable ways to do this which acknowlede the rigors of research and the perspective of the researcher. These guidelines should help.

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One of the most commonly used methods in historical research is documentary analysis and its findings are often presented as an interpretive narrative.

Narrative is defined by Robinson (1996) as "an account of events that involves the telling of a story" and by O'Brien (1994) as "a diligent but still imaginative reconstruction of events".

Cronon (1992) cited in Williams (1994) says historical narratives are "stories about stories about people [and places]" that:

· cannot contravene known facts from the past
· should make sense
· should admit to taking the perspective of the discipline being represented into account when presenting findings.

The final stage of historically based documentary analysis involves the organisation and synthesis of data so that it can be interpreted and presented to explain and give meaning to events that occurred at the time the sources of evidence were produced. It should be presented as "a well synthesised chronicle" (Lobiondo-Wood & Haber, 1994) but as stories that are 'told' they do not and should not be expected to reproduce the flow of the 'lived ...

Solution Summary

A guide to using narrative to present the findings from historical research is given.