Capturing visual metaphors and tales: Innovative or elusive?
International Journal of Research and Method in Education
Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Reason for embargo
Despite the exponential growth of visual research in the social sciences in the last three decades, continuing empirical enquiries are arguably more relevant than ever. Earlier research employed visual methods primarily to investigate distinct cultural practices, often seeking the views of marginalised, challenging or hard-to-reach participants. In this study, non-British postdoctoral academics took photographs that visually or symbolically represented the highlights of their academic acculturation experience as international PhD students in the UK. The semi-structured interviews of academic and non-academic related experiences that made a significant impression revolved around participants’ visual metaphors. Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis, a widely employed inductive qualitative technique, was utilised, with visual data complementing the narrative evidence. This innovative method both aesthetically and insightfully enhanced the representation of participants’ lived experiences and was instrumental in validating participants’ narratives. Additionally, this article examines the pragmatic utility of employing metaphors in a photo elicitation technique (also critically reflected upon by the participants who are academic researchers themselves). The paper therefore offers a collective reflection not only on the features and advantages of this approach, but also on the key challenges and some recommendations to inform contemporary visual methods practice.
Our special thanks goes to all the early-career international academics for giving us their time, and sharing their photographs and narratives. We also gratefully acknowledge the funding received from the University of Glasgow’s Adam Smith Research Foundation Seedcorn Fund that supports innovative and high-quality interdisciplinary research, enabling us to undertake this research. We acknowledge the insight provided by the two anonymous reviewers in helping to crystallise the modest contribution of our paper.
This is the author accepted manuscript. The final version is available from Taylor & Francis via the DOI in this record.
Published online: 27 April 2016