Hi, Haven't posted for a while but have been reading posts, well done to all those whose hard work is paying off and good luck to those having problems. Just wanted some opinions on this. I have done a lot of interviews using a semi-structured interview schedule (social science). Looking back, some of the early interviews are quite poor really - and it is because of me. I guess I was nervous, inexperienced etc etc. But when I look back on the transcripts, I just think they are very poor - unclear questioning, possibly slightly leading (inadvertently ). I can't ignore these interviews, I need them. Can I do anything, maybe acknowledge the poor technique as part of the learning process. Or ignore it. Any ideas?
I would acknowledge your development as a researcher; the PhD experience is after all about training to be a researcher & interviewing is a tricky technique that you develop as you progress & learn. Do you have lots of data from a number of interviews? Do the early interviews provide background, or are they all focussing on the same thing?
In my field (education) it is fine to situate myself in the research, can you find out from your supervisor or colleagues if it's fine for you too?
Good luck! Mog
Hey Sunflower! I can empathize with this- most of my PhD is quantitative but I did a small qualitative study as well. I had no experience with interviewing for qualitative research and my first few interviews were pretty poor as well. To be honest, in terms of the analysis I couldn't afford not to use them, and when I got down to doing the first step of the analysis I realised that there was still a lot of useful information in them. I think as long as you've learnt from these interviews then I wouldn't worry too much about it- it is very easy even for an experienced interviewer to look back and realise what the next question should have been, or which answers should have been pursued further, but that is just a normal part of the process. I wouldn't labour the point that your first few interviews were a bit dodgy in your write-up, it is likely to invite unwanted questions! I would imagine that in all qualitative studies some interviews will inevitably go better than others- some participants just give a much better interview than others as well as the fact that the researcher's skills have an effect. By the time you have done the analysis it is unlikely that this will be evident anyway. What type of analysis are you doing? I guess 'dodgy' interviews might have more of an effect with some types of analysis than others, and depending on how many participants you have altogether. Best, KB
Acknowledge the poor technique as part of the learning process. Social Science LOVES this, as it shows that you've adopted a reflexive approach within the interpretive paradigm, which is how it should be. I don't know whether you've read Kvale (Doing Interviews) but that's a brilliant text to refer to and it's an easy read, too! Kvale also says that there's nothing wrong with leading questions! The fact that he says that interviewing is a craft that has to be learned through practice is also a very useful reference for you to use when you do the self-critical bit!
I am kinda struggling with the same issues really as have just began my interviewing. In summary, it is a qualitative study involving older people. My main concern is the amount of time the participants are spending 'off topic' and how to get people back on topic without being rude! So like you guys spend a lot of time having 'is it me' thoughts! I know by default semi-structured allow room for flexibility, but I worry! I would be particularly interested in anyone else who is interviewing older people and their experiences / useful suggestions about references specific to this population and interviewing- Thank U
I don't think you should worry too much. I've just finished transcribing some interviews for a huge research project (I didn't conduct them) and they are SO leading e.g.
Researcher: "I've done some research which says that dairy milk is better than galaxy, because it is so creamy, would you agree with that?"
Participant: "because its creamy...?"
:p Just make sure your interview plan is clear - with why/what/where/how/who questions and most importantly, you leave pauses - let them think,before jumping in with a prompt - its scary, a bit like when people on tv have to learn to barter with shop assistants- there needs to be a pause, and its awkward, for them to start talking, but they will start talking, so you have to sit it out, rather than jumping in and leading them to the topic of choice.
I would maybe mention it briefly - something about gradually evolving interview skills. As others have said it is all about the learning experience. Plus, I'm not sure about you, but my interviews have increasingly given me ideas for what to ask in subsequent interviews and so the process of fieldwork has changed my areas of focus slightly (my interviews have also, subsequently, become a lot less structured, a lot longer (if I can get it) and a lot more intellectually rewarding.)
I'm kinda thinking of getting a little plaque for my office that reads "It isn't research if you know what you're doing", which isn't entirely accurate, but is reassuring. Maybe, "It isn't research if you know what you're going to find" is better.
Masters DegreesSearch For Masters Degrees
An active and supportive community.
Support and advice from your peers.
Your postgraduate questions answered.
Use your experience to help others.
Enter your email address below to get started with your forum account
Enter your username below to login to your account
An email has been sent to your email account along with instructions on how to reset your password. If you do not recieve your email, or have any futher problems accessing your account, then please contact our customer support.
or continue as guest