Cover: Visual Scribing

Visual Scribing

A Qualitative Research Tool in a Community Engagement Project for Birth Equity

Published in: International Journal of Qualitative Methods, Volume 23 (2024). DOI: 10.1177/16094069241244857

Posted on rand.org May 1, 2024

by Gabriela Alvarado, Priya Batra, Chloe E. Bird

Visual scribing is a form of notetaking in which the visual scribe pays attention to live discussions and captures the themes and ideas that emerge through the combined use of pictures, diagrams, doodles, and text. In recent years, visual scribing has become increasingly used; however, as this field has emerged from practice and not academia, related literature and theory remain scarce. The act of visual scribing during research activities can be a practice that facilitates the documentation of a researcher's individual observations, yet also serves to understand researchers' own reasoning as observers. Additionally, when scribing products are shared with research participants, this helps increase trust and mutual understanding as knowledge is being co-created in an accessible medium (illustration). In this way, scribing becomes both a practice for, and product of, research. In this article we describe how visual scribing methods were used as a complementary approach for notetaking, data collection, and analysis in a community engagement project focused on birth equity in California. We found three main benefits of using visual scribing as part of a broader set of qualitative approaches: (1) triangulation, (2) expanded insight, and (3) participant engagement. Here we present the literature that informed our approach, lessons learned, and potential areas for future inquiry.

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