This paper argues for engaging in unconventional/artistic representations in psychological research and presents step-by-step instructions to make use of a specific form of artistic representation, namely found poetry. Found poetry is a form of poetic inquiry that has been used in a variety of social science disciplines, primarily to amplify meaning making possibilities in qualitative research and to make research more accessible to the reader in various ways. Accessibility of research to the general public can be greatly enhanced by artful representations, particularly poetry, because of its immense socio-epistemic potential. The paper thus attempts to provide a guide on fashioning a found poem out of qualitative data. There are 5 steps in all, represented by the acronym BEST-M. These steps consist of the following: beginning data analysis, excavating evocative data nuggets, scooping out the data, tying the thread, and member checking. As an exemplar, an interview of a young adult participant and their experience of navigating lockdown imposed during the COVID-19 pandemic is used for demonstrating the implementation of the five steps that the paper puts forward.


found poetry, pandemic, lockdown, home, arts-based research

Author Bio(s)

Sudha Shashwati is an Assistant Professor at Department of Psychology, Jesus and Mary College, University of Delhi, India. She is also a feminist and queer affirmative therapist working with adults of all age groups. Her doctoral work in the area of masculinities and femininities in modern India incorporated arts based research paradigm, specifically found poetry, which was the genesis of this paper. Correspondence regarding this paper can be addressed directly to sudha.shashwati@gmail.com

Preksha Kansal recently completed post-graduate studies in the field of I/O Psychology from Department of Psychology, University of Delhi. She is currently working as a Research Manager in Delhi, India wherein she utilizes qualitative inquiry to help brands shape their narratives whilst also closely working with the socio-developmental sector. She is a trained debater and vocalist with immense passion for performing arts. Please direct correspondence to prekshakansal@gmail.com

Deisha Sethi recently completed post-graduate studies from Department of Psychology, University of Delhi. She currently works as a Research Executive in Delhi, India where she has been involved in both qualitative market research and developmental sector work. She has a keen interest in working towards the promotion of socio-emotional learning among children and adolescents. Please direct correspondence to deishasethi9@gmail.com


We would like to thank Dr. Preeti Kapur, who taught qualitative research to all three of us and inspired our passion for innovative research methodology, and who supervised the doctoral research of one of us in which found poetry played a significant role.

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