Creating Personal Metaphors About Doing Qualitative Analysis

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date


Originally Published In

Paper presented at the meeting of the American Educational Research Association, New Orleans, LA.


This study explored personal metaphors for doing qualitative analysis developed by doctoral student researchers. Data consisted of 51 metaphors to describe students’ experiences as novice qualitative researchers. The metaphors focused on three recurring themes: feeling overwhelmed, dealing with ambiguity, uncertainty, and fear of the unknown, and the need for persistence and perseverance to overcome frustration and obstacles. Findings also indicated that creating personal metaphors enabled novice researchers to: see the big picture and understand the overall process, make an abstract process more concrete, and provide a structure, touchstone, or reminder for future work. Teachers of qualitative research may find that creating personal metaphors is a useful tool for students to construct and reflect on the meaning of their research experiences.