Clinical Assistant Professor.
Metaphors in qualitative research: Shedding light or casting shadows?†
Article first published online: 14 JAN 2008
Copyright © 2008 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Research in Nursing & Health
Volume 31, Issue 3, pages 274–282, June 2008
How to Cite
Carpenter, J. (2008), Metaphors in qualitative research: Shedding light or casting shadows?. Res. Nurs. Health, 31: 274–282. doi: 10.1002/nur.20253
Appreciation is extended to Veronica F. Rempusheski, RN, PhD, FAAN, Jeanne K. Buxbaum Chair of Nursing Science, University of Delaware, for her thoughtful critique and suggestions to this manuscript.
- Issue published online: 13 MAY 2008
- Article first published online: 14 JAN 2008
- Manuscript Accepted: 30 AUG 2007
- qualitative research methods;
- figurative language;
The use of metaphors in qualitative research provides an opportunity to examine phenomena from a unique and creative perspective. Metaphors can be used to provide structure to the data; to understand a familiar process in a new light; to identify situation-specific interventions; and to evoke emotion. Misuse of metaphors may detract from the intended research message. Mixing metaphors, failing to follow through with metaphors, and using metaphors that do not fit the data can misrepresent the data. The choice to use metaphors should not become a self-serving attempt at creativity that supersedes subject and substance. At their best, metaphors illuminate the meanings of experiences; at their worst, metaphors distort or obscure the essences of them. © 2008 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Res Nurs Health 31:274–282, 2008