Qualitative Story Completion: A Method with Exciting Promise

  • Virginia Braun
  • Victoria Clarke
  • Nikki Hayfield
  • Naomi Moller
  • Irmgard Tischner
Reference work entry


This chapter introduces the story completion (SC) method of collecting qualitative data, a novel technique that offers exciting potential to the qualitative researcher. SC involves a researcher writing a story “stem” or “cue” – or, more simply put, the start of a story, usually an opening sentence or two – and asking the participants to complete or continue the story. Originally developed as a form of projective test, the use of SC in qualitative research is relatively new. The authors comprise the Story Completion Research Group, a group of researchers that have come together to share their experience of using and further developing the method. This chapter explains what SC offers the qualitative researcher – including choices about the “best” epistemiological lens and analytic approach for their research question, the potential to collect data about sensitive or taboo topics and to access socially undesirable responses, as well as the possibility of research designs that allow comparisons (for example between male and female respondents). This chapter also provides key guidance, such as what constitutes an appropriate research question, and sampling and design considerations. As a recently developed method, SC has fewer published research studies than some of the other research methods covered in this volume. For this reason, the chapter aims not only to provide a description of the method and recommendations for how best to use it, but also to explore some of the unresolved theoretical and practical questions about SC as well as to suggest future directions for SC.


Story-completion Qualitative methods Data collection Innovative 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Virginia Braun
    • 1
  • Victoria Clarke
    • 2
  • Nikki Hayfield
    • 2
  • Naomi Moller
    • 3
  • Irmgard Tischner
    • 4
  1. 1.School of PsychologyThe University of AucklandAucklandNew Zealand
  2. 2.Department of Health and Social Sciences, Faculty of Health and Applied SciencesUniversity of the West of England (UWE)BristolUK
  3. 3.School of Psychology, Faculty of Social SciencesThe Open UniversityMilton KeynesUK
  4. 4.Faculty of Sport and Health SciencesTechnische Universität München, Lehrstuhl DiversitätssoziologieMunichGermany

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