Classic texts: Ann Oakley’s: Interviewing women: A contradiction in terms

Sometimes articles have lives of their own, and live on in ways that authors may not anticipate. The chapter by Ann Oakley, Interviewing women: A contradiction in terms (Oakley, 1981), published in Helen Roberts’ edited collection, Doing Feminist Research, is one such article. Oakley (2016, p. 199) herself comments that the chapter came to “acquire … Continue reading Classic texts: Ann Oakley’s: Interviewing women: A contradiction in terms

Tips for using focus groups in qualitative research

There are a variety of "group" interview formats that researchers use. These include brainstorming groups used to generate ideas in a relatively unstructured format; nominal groups, in which a researcher directs members of the group to respond to questions (which may be in written form), and there is minimal or no group interaction (MacPhail, 2001); … Continue reading Tips for using focus groups in qualitative research

What qualitative researchers can learn from studies that examine interaction in research interviews

Almost 30 years ago, Lucy Suchman and Brigette Jordan (1990) published an article in which they closely examined how survey interviewers posed questions to participants, and what happened next. They found that the delivery of scripted questions without deviation to ensure that people were asked the same questions, in the same way, was very difficult … Continue reading What qualitative researchers can learn from studies that examine interaction in research interviews

“Failure” in doing social research

It’s natural for us all to yearn to be successful at everything we do. Yet whatever we do, we will likely experience failure as we navigate the learning curve to become proficient and then expert in the skills we aim to develop. Conducting research is no different to the many other tasks we have learned … Continue reading “Failure” in doing social research

What qualitative interviewers can learn from studies of epistemics in conversation

Sociologist John Heritage (Heritage, 2012a, 2012b, 2013, 2018; Heritage & Raymond, 2005) has been writing about epistemics in naturally occurring conversation for over a decade. This work draws on the work of other scholars. These include Erving Goffman’s idea of “territories of the selves” (Goffman, 1971) in which people tend the boundaries of knowledge that … Continue reading What qualitative interviewers can learn from studies of epistemics in conversation

Ethics and Interview Practice

Some years ago, I talked to a number of experienced qualitative researchers about how they used interviews in their research. There was a good deal of variation in how this group of researchers used interviews, and the kinds of interviews that they preferred to use (e.g., focus groups, phenomenological, ethnographic interviews etc.). One of the … Continue reading Ethics and Interview Practice

Conducting qualitative interviews: The gap between prescriptions and practice

Over the past year I have been examining archival records from the administration of the Federal Writers’ Project, a work relief scheme undertaken as part of the Works Progress Administration in the 1930s in the United States. I have been struck by the disparities in how different people enacted instructions provided to them with respect … Continue reading Conducting qualitative interviews: The gap between prescriptions and practice

Tips for formulating interview guides for semi-structured qualitative interviews (Part 2)

Developing interview guides goes hand-in-hand with reflecting on what you hope to learn. For any research study, you might start with two or research questions, and develop interview questions that will elicit information that will help you to examine the research questions posed. Here are a few more issues to think about as you develop … Continue reading Tips for formulating interview guides for semi-structured qualitative interviews (Part 2)

How to develop an interview guide (Part 1)

How do researchers take a topic and formulate a “good” interview guide? In this blogpost, I provide some tips for how to develop interview questions that (hopefully!) will facilitate rich, guided conversations in which interview participants discuss the topics that researchers want to examine. Considering the relationships between interviewers and interviewees First, researchers need to … Continue reading How to develop an interview guide (Part 1)

Tips for formulating interview questions

Asking questions of interviewees in ways that help them tell their stories is something of an art. It goes without saying that it is good practice to be well-prepared for interviews. This includes thinking about the physical setting for an interview and the technology one will need to record an interview. And there are so … Continue reading Tips for formulating interview questions