Research Interviewing

Weerakkody’s “Research Interviewing” provides us with a detailed description of what a qualitative research interview should entail. First the author classifies the three types of research interviews: structured, semi-structured and unstructured. It is important to know which type of interview you wish to conduct because that determines the questions you prepare on your interview protocol or guide.

Structured Interview: All respondents are asked the same questions in the same order. The questions can be close-ended or open-ended but often carry the point of view of the researcher, not the respondent. The best time to used the structured interview is when the researcher wants to compare the findings between research subjects on the basis of demographics in relation to their response.

Semi-structured Interview: This type of interview is similar to the structured interview with slight variation. The researcher prepares a list of open-ended questions to ask the subject but, in this case, they have the freedom to add new questions or change the original order of the questions. Semi-structured interviews are a combination of the researcher and the interviewee’s point of view.

Unstructured Interview: The unstructured interview is different from the other two due to the fact that it lacks (no surprise here) structure. In these interviews the researcher prepares an interview protocol that includes topic areas to cover rather than specific questions. This means that each interview can take a different path, at the discretion of the researcher depending on the specific characteristics of the respondents. Unstructured interviews are often used in less formal settings such as field interviews.

In addition to the three types of interviews, Weerakkody also breaks down three types of interview questions: descriptive, structural and contrast.

Descriptive: Descriptive questions “seek to collect [respondents] opinions using their own words, providing a ‘general grand tour’ of the topic or phenomenon under study” (Weerakkody 169). The author suggests that these are often posed ad the beginning of the interview to begin the conversation and get the respondent thinking about the topic

Structural: Structural questions are different from descriptive questions because the researcher is looking for specific details rather than a general overview. These questions, intended to elicit certain information are included in structured and semi-structured interviews.

Contrast: Contrast questions ask the respondent to compare tow elements of the topic in their own words. These allow researchers to understand how different people see these different aspects and what meaning they hold for each person.

To further the discussion of research interviews the author presents the fourteen elements of the interview process. While it would be exhaustive to go through each it is important to note that they range from preparation before the interviewees to developing rapport with interviewees to analyzing interview data and finally a discussion of accuracy, validity reliability and generalizability of findings.

This article was important because it gave us a very detailed framework for what is expected in a quantitative research interview. This is especially useful for our major assessment. I know that I plan to conduct an interview with my research subject to follow up on his media diary. This article helped me to determine that, even though I will only be interviewing one subject, I will create my interview protocol on the basis of a semi-structured interview. I have specific questions that I want answered but I also want to give my subject the freedom to expand on certain points and see where the conversation takes us. I will most likely include descriptive and structural questions. This article is helpful not only for this assignment but future research endeavours

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