The Researcher as Autobiographer: Analyzing Data Written About Oneself

Colleen Tenni, Anne Smyth, Carlene Boucher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper explores some of the issues that arise when one is dealing with data that has been produced by the researcher about their own experience. In particular, we are interested in exploring the ways that researchers can go about analysing autobiographical data. Many researchers produce data that is autobiographical. Ethnographers produce fieldnotes. Action Researchers often write about their own practice. Phenomenologists, sociologists and historians may write narratives that are autobiographical. There is a growing trend for researchers working in a range of settings to view themselves simultaneously being both a subject (or the subject) and a researcher. Data analysis techniques that work well when dealing with data about other people may not be as useful when one is working with one's own data. We will suggest a number of strategies that a researcher can employ to analyse such data including collaborative analysis, forms of grounded theory and alternative forms of representation such as poetry, art and drama. We will also discuss the use of frameworks such as particular psychodynamic theories, feminist theories and critical theories as ways of gaining additional insight from the analysis of the researcher’s biographical writings.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalHealth (San Francisco)
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2003


  • action research
  • autobiography
  • data analysis


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