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NarraFirma Screenshots

These screenshots give you an idea of what using the NarraFirma application is like. To learn more about the ideas behind NarraFirma, visit the web site of its companion book, Working with Stories.

These screenshots are current as of 2017-12-07.


NarraFirma supports project work in Participatory Narrative Inquiry. The software is mostly oriented toward users who are running PNI projects, but participants in a story project (the people who tell the stories) may interact with NarraFirma through an online survey. This is what they see.

Survey (top) NarraFirma Screenshot 01 - Survey top Survey (scrolled down) NarraFirma Screenshot 02 - Survey scrolled

NarraFirma Application

Home page

This is the home page of the NarraFirma application, where six buttons (Planning, Collection, Catalysis, Sensemaking, Intervention, Return), correspond to the six phases of participatory narrative inquiry. NarraFirma Screenshot 03 - Home


In the planning phase of PNI, you think about your project's goals and context, and you make decisions about how you will carry it out.

Planning - Dashboard

Each phase of PNI has a "dashboard" page where you can review your progress and view "reminders" that help you keep track of what you need to do next. NarraFirma Screenshot 04 - Planning - Dashboard

Planning - Enter project facts

Here you enter some basic details about your project. NarraFirma Screenshot 05 - Planning - Enter project facts

Planning - Describe participant groups

Here you think about the groups of people you will be asking to tell stories. Sometimes there will be only one group, but often you will be approaching different groups with different characteristics and needs. Describing your groups causes NarraFirma to make a series of recommendations about how best to design your project. NarraFirma Screenshot 06 - Planning - Describe participant groups


In the collection phase of PNI, as you might expect, you collect stories. This part of the software helps you write questions, design the conversations you will have, and review the stories you have collected.

Collection - Dashboard

This is the collection phase dashboard, showing all the possible parts of story collection. NarraFirma Screenshot 07 - Collection - Dashboard

Collection - Recommendations

There are many ways to collect stories: singly, in pairs, in groups; in person, on the phone, over the web; in speech, in writing. NarraFirma helps you decide with recommendations based on your previous description of participant groups. NarraFirma Screenshot 07a - Collection - Recommendations

Collection - Write eliciting questions

The first thing to do when you plan to gather stories is to figure out how you will ask people to tell stories. In PNI we usually start people off by asking them questions that help them recall experiences to mind. Here the NarraFirma user is designing questions they will ask people to get them started telling stories. NarraFirma Screenshot 07b - Collection - Write eliciting questions

Collection - Write questions about stories

In participatory narrative inquiry, we ask people questions about the experiences they tell us about. This gives us a deeper understanding of the experiences, because the people themselves interpret the stories they tell. In this screenshot the user is reviewing questions they have written to ask people about their stories. NarraFirma Screenshot 08 - Collection - Write questions about stories

Collection - Write questions about participants

In PNI we also ask people direct questions about themselves. The juxtaposition of direct questioning (through "about you" questions) and indirect, oblique questioning (through "about the story you just told" questions) can help you learn more about how people feel about a topic. In this example the NarraFirma user is copying a question from the templates that come with the software. NarraFirma Screenshot 08a - Collection - Write questions about participants

Collection - Design story form

We call the combination of eliciting questions, questions about stories, and questions about participants a story form. Story forms can be used in interviews, in group sessions, or in written conversations. NarraFirma Screenshot 08b - Collection - Design story form

Collection - Enter stories

Stories can be entered into NarraFirma in three ways: through a web survey (used by project participants), through a data entry form (used by project helpers), or through import from a CSV spreadsheet file. Here a project helper is entering stories collected off-line into NarraFirma. NarraFirma Screenshot 08c - Collection - Enter stories

Collection - Write annotation questions

In this screenshot the user is adding extra questions - those not asked of the participants - to be answered by a researcher or project helper. These are typically the kinds of things that would be called "coding" in qualitative or narrative analysis, like tone of voice, word choices, whether certain things were mentioned in the story, and so on. NarraFirma Screenshot 09 - Collection - Write annotation questions

Collection - Review incoming stories

Here the user is looking at the stories they have collected. In this view you can filter the stories by answers to questions. Here the user is looking only at stories told by people younger than 35 who said the person in their story needed "to be heard". NarraFirma Screenshot 10 - Collection - Review incoming stories

Collection - Edit stories

Here the user is (carefully) editing a collected story. This is so you can anonymize stories in place (for example, removing mentions of people's names) and answer annotation questions (shown in a different color). NarraFirma Screenshot 10a - Collection - Edit incoming stories


Catalysis is an optional phase of PNI in which people (sometimes in groups, sometimes alone) look for patterns in the stories and answers to questions. We call this phase catalysis because its purpose is to catalyze thought and discussion. NarraFirma streamlines the catalysis process so you can move quickly on to the sensemaking phase of your project.

Catalysis - Dashboard

This is the catalysis phase dashboard. NarraFirma Screenshot 11 - Catalysis - Dashboard

Catalysis - Configuration

Here the user is making choices that determine how graphs will display on the page that comes next. NarraFirma Screenshot 12 - Catalysis - Configuration

Catalysis - Explore Patterns - Significance

NarraFirma generates all the patterns (graphs and statistical tests) it can (limited by the questions and data types you want to consider). You can then sort your list of patterns by statistical significance, so you can see at a glance the strongest trends in your data.

The statistical tests used by NarraFirma are:

  • for scale data: mean, median, mode, standard deviation, skewness, kurtosis
  • for choice x choice combinations: chi-square
  • for choice x scale combinations: Mann-Whitney U test
  • for scale x scale combinations: Spearman's correlation coefficient

Only non-parametric tests are used, to be conservative.

NarraFirma Screenshot 13 - Catalysis - Explore Patterns - Significance

Catalysis - Explore Patterns - Graph

Here the user has selected a pattern, is looking at the associated graph, and has selected some of the stories shown on the graph. They can see the list of stories selected below the graph. NarraFirma Screenshot 14 - Catalysis - Explore Patterns - Graph

Explore Patterns - Observation and Interpretations

The crux of catalysis in PNI (and the reason it is not catalysis, not analysis) is that for each observation made about a graph (that is, something anyone can see), we write multiple interpretations. That is, instead of saying "we can see this, and it obviously means this," we say "we can see this, and it could mean this, or if you look at it another way, it could mean this." This practice of deliberate disagreement creates a richer set of materials to support thought and discussion in the sensemaking phase. NarraFirma Screenshot 15 - Catalysis - Explore Patterns - Observation and Interpretations

Catalysis - Cluster Interpretations

At this point in the catalysis process, the user (and remember, this could be a person running a project, a group of people running a project, or a whole bunch of people in a workshop) has entered lots of interpretations about lots of observations. Now they cluster those interpretations to produce a smaller number of perspectives. NarraFirma Screenshot 16 - Catalysis - Cluster Interpretations

Catalysis - Report

From the clustered interpretations, observations, and graphs on the previous pages, NarraFirma generates a catalysis report. It is typically used during a sensemaking session (along with the collected stories) to spur discussion in groups. You can change how the report looks by manipulating the CSS classes that determine its appearance. NarraFirma Screenshot 17 - Catalysis - Report


The sensemaking phase of PNI typically takes place in a workshop setting with a group of people who make sense of stories and other data together. They may work with a catalysis report, but they always work with stories. A sensemaking session may be long and complex, with several structured exercises, or it can be short and/or simple. In either case, the people involved (including some of those who told stories) are included in the session when possible.

Sensemaking - Dashboard

This is the sensemaking dashboard page. NarraFirma Screenshot 18 - Sensemaking - Dashboard

Sensemaking - Plan sensemaking session

Here the user is planning a sensemaking session. (Not shown is the screen where the user records what went on at the session afterward.) NarraFirma Screenshot 19 - Sensemaking - Plan sensemaking session

Sensemaking - Copy activity from template

NarraFirma includes a list of templates you can copy (based on exercises developed as part of PNI) and plan into your sensemaking session. (There are similar templates for story collection sessions, questions about stories, and questions about participants.) NarraFirma Screenshot 19 - Sensemaking - Copy activity from template


The intervention phase of PNI is about changing the stories people tell. NarraFirma follows the ideas for narrative interventions described in Working with Stories. Some examples are:

  • Setting up a story sharing space
  • Creating a narrative suggestion box
  • Building a narrative learning resource
  • Holding a participatory theatre event
  • Supporting narrative mentorship

Intervention - Dashboard

This is the intervention dashboard. NarraFirma Screenshot 21 - Intervention - Dashboard

Intervention - Answer questions about project outcomes

Here the user is describing how the project played out for each of their participant groups. This will help NarraFirma suggest interventions that might be helpful to that group. (Not shown are screens where you can plan interventions and record what happened when you carried them out.) Intervention - Answer questions about project outcomes


The return phase of PNI is all about follow-through. In the return phase the stories return to the community (whether or not you are paying attention) and people process what happened in the project, which is its own story.

Return - Dashboard

This is the return phase dashboard. NarraFirma Screenshot 23 - Return - Dashboard

Return - Gather feedback

On this screen you can record feedback you got from people about the project, both to help them process what happened and to help you learn from it. NarraFirma Screenshot 24 - Return - Gather feedback

Return - Reflect on the project

On this screen there is a place to reflect in general on the entire project and save your reflections so you can learn from them years later, when you have forgotten the details of what you worked on. NarraFirma Screenshot 25 - Return - Reflect on the project


And that's NarraFirma. To try out a NarraFirma installation yourself, visit the NarraFirma web site and click "Try it".