Participant-Generated Visual Timelines and Street-Involved Youth Who Have Experienced Violent Victimization

  • Kat Kolar
  • Farah Ahmad
Reference work entry


Despite growing interest in the use of visual methods as a way to engage with issues of representation, meaning, and power relations in qualitative research, only limited literature is available on the use of participant-generated imagery in guiding or supplementing semi-structured or open-ended interviewing methods in the health and social science disciplines, or in navigating issues of interviewing vulnerable persons who have experienced trauma. We draw from a study exploring resilience among street-involved youth to investigate how participant-created visual timelines inform verbal semi-structured interviewing with persons who have experienced personal victimization in the form of violence, as well as structural marginalization. To guide future research efforts, the process of timeline implementation is discussed in depth. Analysis of timelines was conducted through a critical emancipatory research lens. Three overarching themes developed through analysis of timelines are explored here: (a) rapport building, (b) participants as navigators, and (c) therapeutic moments and positive closure. In the discussion, we engage with the potential of visual timelines to supplement and situate semi-structured interviewing and illustrate how the framing of research is central to whether that research facilitates increased participant authority in the research process, enhances trust, and ensures meaningful, accountable engagement.


Resilience Timeline Visual methods Street-involved youth Qualitative interviews 


  1. Ahmad F, Rai N, Petrovic B, Erickson P, Stewart D. South Asian immigrant women and resilience as survivors of partner violence. J Immigr Minor Health. 2013;15:1057–64.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bagnoli A. Beyond the standard interview: the use of graphic elicitation and arts-based methods. Qual Res. 2009;9:547–70.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Berends L. Embracing the visual: using timelines with in-depth interviews on substance use and treatment. Qual Report. 2011;16:1–9.Google Scholar
  4. Crouch M, McKenzie H. The logic of small samples in interview-based qualitative research. Soc Sci Inf. 2006;45:483–99.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Goodrum S, Keys J. Reflections on two studies of emotionally sensitive topics: bereavement from murder and abortion. Int J Soc Res Methodol. 2007;10:249–58.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Gringeri C, Wahab S, Anderson-Nathe B. What makes it feminist? Mapping the landscape of feminist social work research. Affilia: J Women Soc Work. 2010;25:390–405.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Guillemin M. Understanding illness: Using drawings as a research method. Qual Health Res. 2004;14(2):272–89.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Guillemin M, Drew S. Questions of process in participant-generated visual methodologies. Visual Stud. 2010;25(2):175–88.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Harper D. Reimagining visual methods: Galileo to Neuromancer. In: Denzin NK, Lincoln YS, editors. Collecting and interpreting qualitative materials. 2nd ed. Thousand Oaks: Sage; 2003. p. 176–98.Google Scholar
  10. Holland J. Emotions and research. Int J Soc Res Methodol. 2007;10:195–209.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Hollway W, Jefferson T. Eliciting narrative through the in-depth interview. Qual Inq. 1997;3:53–70.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Holstein JA, Gubrium JF. Constructing the life course. Dix Hills: Rowman & Littlefield; 2000.Google Scholar
  13. Horsfall D, Titchen A. Disrupting edges – opening spaces: pursuing democracy and human flourishing through creative methodologies. Int J Soc Res Methodol. 2009;12:147–60.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Jackson K. Participatory diagramming in social work research: utilizing visual timelines to interpret the complexities of the lived multiracial experience. Qual Soc Work. 2012;12(4):414–32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Karnieli-Miller O, Strier R, Pessach L. Power relations in qualitative research. Qual Health Res. 2009;19(2):279–89.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Kesby M. Participatory diagramming: deploying qualitative methods through an action research epistemology. Area. 2000;32(4):423–35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. King N, Horrocks C. Interviews in qualitative research. Thousand Oaks: Sage; 2010.Google Scholar
  18. Kolar K. Resilience: revisiting the concept and its utility for social research. Int J Ment Health Addict. 2011;9:421–33.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Kolar K, Erickson PG, Stewart D. Coping strategies of street-involved youth: exploring contexts of resilience. J Youth Stud. 2012;15:744–60.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Kolar K, Ahmad F, Chan L, Erickson PG. Timeline mapping in qualitative interviews: a study of resilience with marginalized groups. Int J Qual Methods. 2015;14(3):13–32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Kuzel AJ. Sampling in qualitative inquiry. In: Crabtree B, Miller W, editors. Doing qualitative research. Thousand Oaks: Sage; 1999. p. 33–45.Google Scholar
  22. Liamputtong P. Researching the vulnerable: a guide to sensitive research methods. London: Sage; 2007.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Liamputtong P. Qualitative research methods. 4th ed. Melbourne: Oxford University Press; 2013.Google Scholar
  24. Mason J, Davies K. Coming to our senses? A critical approach to sensory methodology. Qual Res. 2009;9:587–603.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Maxwell J. Understanding and validity in qualitative research. Harv Educ Rev. 1992;62:279–301.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Nicholls R. Research and indigenous participation: critical reflexive methods. Int J Soc Res Methodol. 2009;12:117–26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Osei-Kofi N. The emancipatory potential of arts-based research for social justice. Equity Excell Educ. 2013;46:135–49.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Patterson M, Markey M, Somers J. Multiple paths to just ends: using narrative interviews and timelines to explore health equity and homelessness. Int J Qual Methods. 2012;11:132–51.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Pauwels L. Visual sociology reframed: an analytical synthesis and discussion of visual methods in social and cultural research. Sociol Methods Res. 2010;38(4):545–81.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Preventing Violence Across the Lifespan [PreVAiL] Research Network. Theme 2: Resilience. 2010. Retrieved from:
  31. Rose G. Visual methodologies: an introduction to the interpretation of visual methods. London: Sage; 2001.Google Scholar
  32. Sheridan J, Chamberlain K, Dupuis A. Timelining: visualizing experience. Qual Res. 2011;11:552–69.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Smith D. The conceptual practices of power: a feminist sociology of knowledge. Toronto: University of Toronto Press; 1990.Google Scholar
  34. Umoquit M, Dobrow M, Lemieux-Charles L, Ritvo P, Urbach D, Wodchis W. The efficiency and effectiveness of utilizing diagrams in interviews: an assessment of participatory diagramming and graphic elicitation. BMC Med Res Methodol. 2008;8:53–65.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Ungar M. Nurturing hidden resilience in troubled youth. Toronto: University of Toronto Press; 2004.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. White J, Klein D. The feminist framework and poststructuralism. In: White J, Klein D, editors. Family theories. 3rd ed. Thousand Oaks: Sage; 2008. p. 205–40.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  2. 2.School of Health Policy and ManagementYork UniversityTorontoCanada

Personalised recommendations