Research Interviewing: The Range of Techniques

By Bill Gillham | Go to book overview

4: Different techniques and the
'cost' development factor

This is a short chapter but it deals with issues basic to the feasibility of a research project involving interviews. In the world of material possessions the most expensive is not always the best, but it usually is. For those of us whose financial resources are limited, there are regular compromises in this respect: what is the best we can afford? And, to extend the metaphor: is the best necessary, bearing in mind our purpose? Or, as a variant, does the added cost add enough value to justify the expenditure?

To the lone researcher the main cost is in time and energy, for empirical research is a demanding business where it is easy to over-load oneself. One of the most predictable problems when supervising research students is to find that they plan to do more than they can possibly hope to achieve. Not that experience offers a complete insurance against this. Again the financial metaphor applies: even the more realistic of us usually find that the true costs of what we want are greater than we calculate, that there are cost factors which have been overlooked or underestimated. Point made: let us look at a hypothetical but exact example.


The time–cost factor

You plan to do 15 one-hour face-to-face interviews which will be tape-recorded – almost always necessary because this kind of interview requires close attention to the interviewee which precludes note-taking.

Preparing the interview schedule, as indicated in the previous chapter, is no small feat, even if it is a 'shared' cost across all interviews. If you do the job properly, you will be unlikely to need fewer than 60 hours of work for this stage: time well spent and a time-saver in terms both of giving the interview and analysing it. So we have initial development costs: 60 hours.

A one-hour interview with 15 people adds another 15 hours: but that is the

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