Testis Unis, Testis Nullas: One witness is no witness Criticisms of the use of oral history in nursing research

Biedermann, N.; Usher, K.; Hayes, B.; Williams, A.

Contemporary Nurse 9(3-4): 220-227


ISSN/ISBN: 1037-6178
DOI: 10.5172/conu.2000.9.3-4.220
Accession: 068502718

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In research, there is no perfection: no perfect method, no perfect sample, and no perfect data analyses tool. Coming to this understanding helps the researcher identify the inadequacies of their preferred method. This paper discusses the criticisms of the oral history method, drawing reference to its challenges and difficulties in relation to its use in nursing research. Oral history has the advantage over more traditional historical approaches in that the narrators can interpret events, personalities and relationships within the interview that are not accessible from written sources. The oral history interview may also provide a forum for unveiling documents and photographs, which might not have been otherwise discovered. Nonetheless, oral history, like most methodologies, is not flawless. This paper discusses the limitations of oral history and suggests ways in which a nurse can use oral history to provide an account of aspects of nursing history.