The Good Research Guide for Small-Scale Social Research Projects

By Martyn Denscombe | Go to book overview

10

Interviews
Interviews are an attractive proposition for the project researcher. At first glance, they do not involve much technical paraphernalia in order to collect the information – perhaps a notepad and a portable tape-recorder – and the basic technique draws on a skill that researchers already have – the ability to conduct a conversation. No complex equipment and no need to spend time learning new skills: this is a particularly enticing recipe.The reality, though, is not quite so simple. Although there are a lot of superficial similarities between a conversation and an interview, interviews are actually something more than just a conversation. Interviews involve a set of assumptions and understandings about the situation which are not normally associated with a casual conversation (Denscombe 1983; Silverman 1985). When someone agrees to take part in a research interview:There is consent to take part. From the researcher's point of view this is particularly important in relation to research ethics. The interview is not done by secret recording of discussions or the use of casual conversations as research data. It is openly a meeting intended to produce material that will be used for research purposes – and the interviewee understands this and agrees to it.
The interviewee's words can be treated as 'on the record' and 'for the record'. In the research interview there is a general understanding (a) that the words can be used by the researcher at some later date and (b) that the talk can be taken as a genuine reflection of the person's thoughts, rather than being a joke or a 'wind up'. It is, of course, possible for the interviewee to stipulate that his or her words are not to be attributed to him or her, or not to be made publicly available. The point is, though, that unless the interviewee specifies to the contrary, the interview talk is 'on record' and 'for the record'. It is to be taken seriously.

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The Good Research Guide for Small-Scale Social Research Projects
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • List of Figures vi
  • Acknowledgements vii
  • Introduction 1
  • Part I - Strategies for Social Research 3
  • 1: Surveys 6
  • 2: Case Studies 30
  • 3: Internet Research 41
  • 4: Experiments 61
  • 5: Action Research 73
  • 6: Ethnography 84
  • 7: Phenomenology 96
  • 8: Grounded Theory 109
  • Part II - Methods of Social Research 131
  • 9: Questionnaires 144
  • 10: Interviews 163
  • 11: Observation 192
  • 12: Documents 212
  • Part III - Analysis 231
  • 13: Quantitative Data 236
  • 14: Qualitative Data 267
  • 15: Writing Up the Research 284
  • Frequently Asked Questions 299
  • References 302
  • Index 307
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