Research Interviewing: The Range of Techniques

By Bill Gillham | Go to book overview
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11 Structured interviewing The use of recording schedules
From the unstructured to the semi-structured, and now to the structured interview. These have been presented as distinct types for purposes of emphasis and clarity of focus. In fact, of course, they are simply stages on a graded scale, capable of infinite variation.
The definition of a recording schedule
In order to distinguish structured interviews from questionnaires, the term recording schedule is used here as in Moser and Kalton's classic Social Survey Research Methods (1986). Recording schedules, usually administered faceto-face but also widely used in telephone surveys, are the primary tool in social survey research. Hence the hordes of market researchers one finds in the main shopping streets of our cities and towns scanning passers-by to see which ones might be compliant and seem likely to fit the quota survey criteria (women 45+, teenagers, and so on). Such interviews focusing on 'big market' issues like TV viewing, mobile phone use, holiday preferences, are very short and often conducted with feverish haste.Since the employers of these street market-researchers are doubtless driven by tight cost-constraints we need to consider why they use this relatively expensive, even if abbreviated, method of getting people to complete what is essentially a questionnaire that is, the kind of thing that requires a simple choice response to the sort of question usually described as closed.If a recording schedule is in effect a verbally administered questionnaire, why might it be preferred? What are its advantages? Let us invert the argument and ask: what are the disadvantages of questionnaires? We can list these:
Getting postal questionnaires returned referred to as the response rateis a major problem.

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