Article 29 may 2024

Some Concepts to Explore...

Stories and storytelling have been part of human history since the beginning of time. Folktales, legends, myths and many other forms of narratives, have been used for centuries to transfer knowledge and culture through the generations.

But what do stories and storytelling mean?


The word “story” originated in the 13th century when, in Latin and French , the term defined an account of incidents or events (Gill, 2001). More recently, stories describe a series of facts not only chronologically linked (“The King dies and then the Queen dies”) but connected through a cause-effect relationship (“The King dies and then the Queen dies because of pain”) (Erlach, Muller, Tiech, 2020).



We can define storytelling as «[…] the use of stories or narratives as a communication tool to value, share, and capitalize on the knowledge of individuals» (Serrat, 2017). Consequently, unlike “stories”, storytelling is not a simple account of events. Still, it implies an intentional use of stories as a communication tool. In short, storytelling focuses on the art of telling stories rather than the cause-effect relationships among facts. A different meaning is connected to the word “narratives”.



Compared to stories, narratives are larger and without an end. If stories are usually specific and time-space related, narratives are wider and do not have the resolution that usually closes the stories (Corman, 2013). In terms of science communication, if a science story is a story related to a scientist or a scientific discovery (e.g. “The story of penicillin”), narratives refer to a wider group of stories linked by a common subject (e.g. “Anti-vaccination narratives”).

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