The data collection techniques used by a researcher are important in any research process since they primarily determine the validity and reliability of the study findings. There exists a wide range of data collection techniques that can be used by social scientists to collect primary data in key research areas (Wilson & Sapsford, 2006, p. 93).
Some of the most commonly used data collection techniques include questionnaires, interviews, participant observations, focus groups and case studies. This paper evaluates how face-to-face interview technique can be used to gather the requisite information needed to answer key research questions in the broad area of same-sex marriages and civil unions.
My primary area of interest would be to understand the social and psychological problems experienced by children reared by homosexual parents. It should be noted that all techniques of data collection involves some extent of structure (Wilson & Sapsford, 2006, p. 93). Accordingly, the interview would be highly structured to avoid any chance of departing from the key issues during the interview process.
A face-to-face interview technique that utilizes an interview schedule to lead the process will best suit the selected research area. Here, a standard interview schedule will be used for each respondent in the sample, in which the interview questions will have the same wording and will be asked in the same order. Due to the age of the respondents to be included in the study, this technique is viewed as appropriate since it will give the researcher an opportunity to guide the respondents by using prompts.
More often than not, respondents deviate from the laid down procedures of the interview to give their own accounts or experiences that may not be easily categorized (Wilson & Sapsford, 2006, p. 94). In such scenarios, this technique will allow the researcher to use prompts to ask for clarifications and other subsidiary information. This way, the technique also guarantees quality of data.
The researcher would speak to two sets of children who must be 12 years or older to enable them comprehend the weighty matters that will be asked during the interview process.
The first set will consist of children reared by homosexual parents while the second set will generally encompass children from straight families. The two sets will greatly assist the researcher in undertaking a correlational analysis with the objective of unearthing how a particular type of marriage influences the social, psychological and social beliefs of children brought up in these particular marriages.
To unearth these influences the researcher will have to pose questions that borders on the children’s value systems; attitudes about their parents; perceptions about the type of marriage their would prefer; how the marital relationships of their parents affects their class work and social life; any form of abuses arising from the parents; and their religious perceptions on the type of marriages entered into by their respective parents.
The researcher should take some notes during the interview process based on the interview schedule to avoid any form of bias. The researcher should ensure that all the responses are categorized according to previously designed response categories to ensure that all information is recorded in an accurate manner (Wilson & Sapsford, 2006, p. 94).
Recording the responses in previously designed categories will also minimize the chances for the interview process to slide towards an agenda of attention which is decided by the participants rather than the researcher. The researcher may also tape-record the interview process to guard against any loss of critical information.
The face-to-face interview technique enhances a much faster comparative analysis on each interview item while the prompts utilized in the interview process offers the researcher an opportunity to discover new information previously unknown to him or her (Wilson & Sapsford, 2006, p. 96).
Due to the tender age of participants, this particular data collection technique will also give the researcher the ability to adapt the questions as necessary, illuminate any doubt, and make sure that the participants understands the questions in the right context.
However, the researcher will have to use vast financial resources and a lot of time to get to the participants due to geographical limitations. In face-to-face interviews, the researcher’s bias in terms of how the questions are asked and how responses are interpreted may also present some challenges.
Various issues can be learned from the interview process. First, it can be discerned that face-to-face interview technique can be effectively used to study the perceptions, attitudes, values, and behaviours of a selected sample especially when it is used in conjunction with an interview schedule. In this perspective, it can be effectively used in qualitative studies for purposes of collecting data.
Also, the fact that the researcher must undergo a lot of training to minimize interviewer bias has also been brought into the fore. Third, this paper shows that it is perfectly acceptable to use several data recording techniques for purposes of enhancing data credibility.
Wilson, M., & Sapsford, R. (2006). “Asking Questions.” In R. Sapsford & V. Jupps (Eds), Data Collection and Analysis. SAGE. ISBN: 9780761943631