Interviewing as a Method of Data Collection
Interview as a data collection method is used by researchers for several purposes. Factually, an interview is a primary data collection method from individuals or groups on beliefs, practices, and opinions among others. Besides, this technique can be used to gather present or past information. Depending on quality and purpose of the information to be collected, different types of interviews are incorporated in the methodology segment of a research assessment.
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Often, researchers obtain erroneous results due to poor structuring of questions, ambiguity, complexity, and intimidation. Therefore, to avoid these scenarios, it is vital for a researcher to adopt properly structured and well researched questions and adopt a participatory approach in the process of information collection. Thus, this reflective treatise attempts to applaud the essence of interviews as a method of data collection on the facets of types, forms, purposes, and significance.
Interviews can be used in collecting and presenting information on storytelling, ethnography, narratology, and act-network methodology. Typically, qualitative research uses different types of interviews such as structured, unstructured, and semi-structured models.
In either type method is vital since it involves focus group where both parties have to assimilate moderating techniques to differentiate sample space and research agency. Interviewing can be defined as a systematic two-way conversation involving an informant and an investigator with the interaction expected to generate information for general knowledge or research (Mason, 1996, p. 54).
This process can be achieved by telephone or one-on-one contact and requires proper interviewing skills. In research methodology, interviewing may either be a supplementary or the main method of studying sample space. As a matter of fact, interviewing is the best alternative for collecting information from a sample group consisting of less educated or illiterate respondents.
Moreover, this method is applicable to a wide scope of information such as highly intimate and personal information, data of factual demographic orientation, attitudes, values, opinion, future intentions, and past practices. In addition, this method is feasible especially the personal interview type, when the survey demography is compact and sufficiently skilled interviewers are within reach (Holliday, 2007, p. 32).
Compared to other methods of data collection, interview is more efficient and superior as people naturally would opt for talking rather than writing when given an option. After establishing a stable rapport, the interviewer is likely to obtain confidential and very sensitive information form first person. Interviewing method authorizes informal probing in order to place the respondent reasoning and context within the understanding of the research purpose.
As a matter of fact, interviews can provide provision information into the research topic since the interviewer might get answers to other aspects which were not initially planned. In the process, the research agency can grasp a brief context of displayed behavior on the furnished data provided by the respondent.
In addition, wherever there is misunderstanding, the interviewer is permitted to seek clarification and offer explanation on the expected response structure and optional answer questions (Denzin & Lincoln, 2000, p.20). However, this method may be expensive if the sample space is large and live in a difficult to access geographical location.
In general classification, interviews can be grouped into five categories as: clinical interview, depth interview, focused interview, non-directive/non-structured interview, and directive or structured interviews. Structured interviews have properly formulated and well arranged question with one answer leading to another.
The arrangement of this question best suits a scientific fact-finding mission where analysis may be dependant on the response from a group of preceding questions. Unstructured interviews are void of the systematic response arrangement though the questions of the study remain the same (Denzin & Lincoln, 2000, p.24).
Unstructured interview are essential in obtaining information form informal setting without having to appear too technical to the respondent. Information flow in the personal interview scenario is multidimensional as the interaction adopts a casual and ease approach. Besides the five categories of interviewing method are telephone interviewing and group interviewing.
As a non-personal type of interviewing method, telephone interviewing relies on the response from the third party without benefiting from probing technique to confirm authenticity. Subsequently, it may not be reliable especially when information required is very sensitive or involved symbolic explanation of body expression.
In group interviews, a number of individuals with common affiliate interest interacting systematically to present a multidimensional data (Denzin & Lincoln, 2000, p.22). This type of interviewing method is essential when the sample space is larger than the budget allocated. Besides, it would function properly in an environment where a group of respondent share similar ideology, beliefs, and are connected by same purpose such as in the church, learning institutions, and the military.
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Success of interview method lies on proper preparation by drafting the research questions followed by a comprehensive introduction in order to gain confidence and win trust of the respondent. However, the whole process depends on the rapport existing between the interviewer and the respondent. After developing a good rapport, the recording process should be done systematically and the respondent appreciated when the process is closed (Denzin & Lincoln, 2000, p.24).
Conclusively, interview as a method of research methodology is essential in qualitative research where first hand information is of essence. However, the method relies on clarity, nature, structure, and sensitivity of the questions asked. Factually, this method is flexible to additional information obtained through probing and confirming the context of response given. Interview method is very effective and reliable in analysis behavior orientation, beliefs, and intra personal issues in the contemporary society.
Denzin, K., & Lincoln, Y. S., 2000 Handbook of qualitative research (2nd Ed.),.Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications
Holliday, R., 2007 Doing and Writing Qualitative Research, 2nd Edition. London: Sage Publications
Mason, J., 1996 Qualitative Researching, London: Sage Publications