Time for timelines: the take-home timeline as a tool for exploring complex life histories

Bremner, N (2020) 'Time for timelines: the take-home timeline as a tool for exploring complex life histories.' International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 19. ISSN 1609-4069

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1177/1609406920948978

Abstract

Visual timelines have become an increasingly popular way of enhancing life history research. Most timeline-based studies have involved participants creating timelines “there and then,” usually in the presence of the researcher. This article proposes an alternative: the “take-home” timeline, which involved participants taking their timelines home and completing them in their own time. Seven English language teachers, who had participated in the take-home timeline method, were interviewed to explore their experiences of the process. Specifically, they were asked to consider whether the take-home element of the timeline method may have influenced the quality of the data. The teachers reported several benefits of producing their timelines at home, particularly in terms of helping them recall, organize and express complex ideas. Their experiences would appear to support cognitive science research on memory retrieval, as well as an increasing body of research on unconscious mental processes. The author concludes that increased time may be a key factor in enhancing the quality of data produced through qualitative approaches such as timeline-based life history studies, and suggests that the time element could be taken into account in a wider range of narrative studies. Key limitations of the study are recognized; in particular, that participants were only subjected to the “take-home” method and were not given the chance to take part in the “there and then” method.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: life history, time, timelines, take-home timelines, timeline interviews, visual methods
Divisions: School of Education
Identification Number: https://doi.org/10.1177/1609406920948978
Date Deposited: 10 Jul 2020 19:25
Last Modified: 26 Aug 2020 14:23
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