Portrait Methodology: A Methodological Approach to Explore Individual Experiences

Xianghan O'Dea

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter draws on longitudinal and cross-sessional research to explore the use of Bottery's variant of portrait methodology in understanding the individual experiences of a group of Chinese top-up students when they study a one-year top-up programme in a UK university. The rationale for using Bottery's variant was to understand only the perceptions of these students in their particular context, during a specific period of time in their life. Data were collected three times using semi-structured interviews, and individual portraits were produced after each set of interviews, based on the interview transcripts. The findings of the research and also the comments of the participants suggest that the use of portrait methodology helped enhance the trustworthiness of the research and also self-awareness and self-reflection of the participants. Researchers may face challenges when adopting Bottery's variant of portrait methodology in research, in particular relating to portrait writing and rapport building with the participants.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTheory and Method in Higher Education Research
EditorsJeroen Huisman, Malcolm Tight
PublisherEmerald Group Publishing Ltd.
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9781802624410, 9781802624434
ISBN (Print)9781802624427
Publication statusPublished - 12 Nov 2021
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameTheory and method in higher education research.
PublisherEmerald Publishing Ltd
ISSN (Print)2056-3752


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