Me-Search and Re-Search: A Guide for Writing Scholarly Personal Narrative Manuscripts

reviewed by Maureen Hall - January 31, 2014

coverTitle: Me-Search and Re-Search: A Guide for Writing Scholarly Personal Narrative Manuscripts
Author(s): Robert J. Nash & DeMethra LaSha Bradley
Publisher: Information Age Publishing, Charlotte
ISBN: 1617353930, Pages: 22, Year: 2011
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Nash and Bradley (2011) do not push the Scholarly Personal Narrative (SPN) as the best or the only kind of research, but they clearly articulate that SPN as a valid method of research.  They also situate SPN in both its relation and disconnection to other types of research. They clarify that SPN is a dynamic and collaborative type of research.  They say that when it is done well, “SPN combines scholarship, personal stories, and universalizable themes and insights in a seamless manner” (p. 24). It strikes me that it should not be a revelation that the personal “I” should be validated in many kinds of research. Personal experience should certainly be integrated and “woven” into many kinds of scholarship.

SPN privileges both the process and the product, where other more traditional kinds of scholarship turn a blind eye to all things connected to personal experience(s). The authors argue that even in the most objective research writing, “you can never be fully outside your writing.” There is always a human being making meaning of the results of the research.  There are subjective parts to any kind of research writing and meaning-making. Unlike these other forms of traditional scholarship, SPN highlights the personal experience as either a jumping-off point or a way to make meaning of an event through a carefully constructed narrative or story. SPN can make available both the subjective (how one relates to a topic personally) and the objective (what is the research) and combine them together, revealing new kinds of understanding. There are four components of SPN: Pre-Search, Me-Search, Re-Search, and We-Search. Pre-Search has to do with finding and resonating on the reasons that draw the researcher passionately to the subject/topic. The Me-Search portion is where the researcher makes connections to his or her own personal stories and narrative.  The Re-Search portion is the traditional research part, and the We-Search draws threads from the previous three parts to make links to larger and more universal themes.

Nash and Bradley provide many good examples of SPN in the book from their own work and from others’ work and show how the research methodology should always fit the research question.  One example of SPN in the book comes from Valerie Winot.  She explains more about how the “personal” can enhance some kinds of scholarship.  She points out that “as we engage with the world, we gain experience and wisdom, and by sharing how we arrived at our wisdoms, we can inspire others to do the same” (p. 160).

To make an apt analogy—traditional forms of research are more like an iceberg, where only a small portion is above water, and that is only the end product with no value given to the process of researching itself. Conversely, SPN offers a new kind of research scholarship where the “personal” passion for the subject can be thoughtfully integrated with personal stories, primary and secondary sources, and connections and re-connections to larger themes. SPN would be more like a transparent iceberg—with all processes and products made visible to the reader.

Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record, Date Published: January 31, 2014 ID Number: 17397, Date Accessed: 10/26/2021 8:08:06 PM

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