Self Report In Research and Gathering Qualitative Research Report Data (IV)

Afza.Malik GDA

Conducting an In Depth Interview

Self Report In Research and Gathering  Qualitative Research Report (IV) Conducting the Interview and In depth interviewers

Self Report In Research and Gathering  Qualitative Research Report (IV) Conducting the Interview and In depth interviewers

    The purpose of gathering narrative self-report data is to enable researchers to construct reality in ways that are consistent with the constructions of the people being studied. This goal requires researchers to take steps to overcome communication barriers and to enhance the flow of meaning. Asking good questions and eliciting good narrative data are far more difficult than appears. 

    This section offers some suggestions about gathering qualitative self-report data through in-depth interviews. Further suggestions are offered by Weiss (1995) and Seidman (1998). Preparing for the Interview Although qualitative interviews are conversational, this does not mean that they are entered into casually. The conversations are purposeful ones that require advance thought and preparation. 

    For example, careful thought should be given to the wording of questions. To the extent possible, the wording should make sense to respondents and reflect their world view. An important issue is that researchers and respondents should have a common vocabulary. If the researcher is studying a different culture or a subgroup that uses distinctive terms or slang, efforts should be made even before data collection to understand those terms and their nuances. 

    Researchers usually prepare for the interview by developing (mentally or in writing) the broad questions to be asked (or at least the initial questions, in unstructured interviews). Sometimes it is useful to do a practice interview with a stand-in respondent. If there are questions that are especially sensitive, it is a good idea to ask such questions late in the interview when rapport has been established .

It is also important to decide in advance how to present oneselfas a researcher, as a nurse, as an ordinary person as much like participants as possible, as a humble “learner,” and so on (Fontana & Frey, 1994). One advantage of assuming the nurse role is that people often trust nurses. On the other hand, people frequently defer to those who are viewed as having more education or more expertise. 

    Moreover, participants may use the interview as an opportunity to ask numerous health questions, or to solicit opinions about particular health practitioners. Another part of the preparation involves decisions about places where the interviews can be conducted. Morse and Field (1995) advocate letting participants choose the setting.

     It is, however, important to give thought in advance about possibilities to suggest to them. In-home interviews are often preferred because interviewers then have the opportunity to observe the participants' world, and to take observational notes. 

    When in-home interviews are not desired by participants (eg, if they are worried that the interview would be overheard by household members and prefer more privacy), it is wise to have alternative suggestions, such as in an office, in a coffee shop , and so on. 

    The important thing is to select places that offer some privacy, that protect insofar as possible against interruptions, and that are adequate for recording the interview. (Of course, in some cases the setting will be dictated by circumstances, as when interviews take place while participants are hospitalized.) 

    For interviews done in the field, researchers must anticipate the equipment and supplies that will be needed. Preparing a checklist of all such items is helpful. The checklist typically would include audiotape-recording equipment, batteries, tapes, consent forms, forms for obtaining demographic information, notepads, and pens. 

    Other possibilities include laptop computers, incentive payments, cookies or donuts to help break the ice, and distracting toys or picture books if it is likely that children will be home. It may be necessary to bring forms of identification to assure participants of the legitimacy of the visit. And, if the topic under study is likely to elicit emotional narratives, tissues should be readily at hand.

Conducting the Interview

    Qualitative interviews are typically long sometimes lasting up to several hours. Researchers often find that the respondents' construction of their experience only begins to emerge after lengthy, in depth dialogues. Interviewers must prepare respondents for the interview by putting them at ease. 

    Part of this process involves sharing relevant information about the study (eg, about the study aims and protection of confidentiality). Another part of this process is using the first few minutes for pleasantries and ice-breaking exchanges of conversation before actual questioning begins. Up-front “small talk” can help to overcome stage fright, which can occur for both interviewers and respondents. 

    Participants may be particularly nervous when the interviews are being tape recorded, which is the preferred method of recording information. They typically forget about the tape recorder after the interview is underway, so the first few minutes should be used to help both parties “settle in.”

    Respondents will not share much information with interviewers if they do not trust them. Close rapport with respondents provides access to richer information and to personal, intimate details of their stories. Interviewer personality plays a role in developing rapport: Good interviewers are usually congenial, friendly people who have the capacity to see the situation from the respondent's perspective. 

    Nonverbal communication can be critical in conveying concern and interest. Facial expressions, postures, nods, and so on, help to set the tone for the interview. The most critical interviewing skill for indepth interviews is being a good listener. 

    A central issue is not how to talk to respondents, but how to listen to them. It is especially important not to interrupt respondents, to “lead” them, to offer advice or opinions, to counsel them, or to share personal experiences. The interviewer's job is to listen intently to the respondents' stories, a task that is often exhausting. 

    Only by attending carefully to what respondents are saying can in-depth interviewers develop appropriate follow-up questions. Even when a topic guide is used, interviewers must not let the flow of dialogue be bound by those questions. In semi structured interviews, many questions that appear on a topic guide are answered spontaneously over the course of the interview, usually out of sequence.

    In depth interviewers need to be prepared for strong emotions, such as anger, fear, or grief, to surface. Narrative disclosures can “bring it all back” for respondents, which can be a cathartic or therapeutic experience if interviewers create an atmosphere of concern and caring but it can also be stressful for them. Interviewers may need to manage a number of potential crises during the interviews. 

    One that happens at least once in most qualitative studies is the failed or improper recording of the interview. Thus, even when interviews are tape recorded, notes should be taken during or immediately after the interview to ensure the highest possible reliability of data and to prevent a total information loss. 

        Interruptions (usually the telephone) and other distractions are another common problem. If respondents are willing, telephones can be controlled by unplugging them or taking the receiver off the hook. Interruptions by personal intrusions of friends or family members may be more difficult to manage. 

    In some cases, the interview may need to be terminated and rescheduled for example, when a woman is discussing domestic violence and the perpetrator enters and stays in the room. Interviewers should strive for a positive closure to the interview. 

    The last questions in in-depth interviews should usually be along these lines: “Is there anything else you would like to tell me?” or “Are there any other questions that you think I should have asked you?” Such probes can often elicit a wealth of important information. In closing, interviewers normally ask respondents whether they would mind being contacted again, in the event that additional questions come to mind after reflecting on the information, or in case interpretations of the information need to be verified.

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