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Essay Sample: Concepts of Interviewing in Qualitative Research

2021-07-08 23:33:36
5 pages
1334 words
Boston College
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Qualitative research design is an essential way of gathering non-numeric information from subjects of a study used in providing or disproving theories, proposition, and hypotheses. The basis of qualitative research is asking questions either directly or indirectly to respondents who consist of people perceived to be well versed with the targeted information (Lapan, Quartaroli, & Riemer, 2011). Some of the commonly used tools in facilitating qualitative research include questionnaires and interviews. In interviews, the researcher asked well-framed questions directly to the respondents who then listens and provides respondents as they deem appropriate (Trochim, Donnelly, & Arora, 2016). Based on the nature of qualitative research which assesses the opinions, beliefs, perspectives, perceptions, and values of respondents, it is more personal than other research designs (Patton, 2014). The researcher conducting a qualitative research for a case study must embrace various concepts that lead to quality data. The issues that the interviewee must consider is the participants viewpoint, informed consent, confidentiality, reflection, and operationalization.

At the center of qualitative research is a conversation between the researcher and the respondents in which the latter provides information sought to the extent that they think is appropriate for them (Lapan, Quartaroli, & Riemer, 2011). Therefore, the concept of participant viewpoint requires that the interviewee does not intervene in directing the respondent on what they think is ideal. This approach coincides with the reality that qualitative designs are in their nature subjective since they rely on the respondents perspectives which requires that they are allowed adequate opportunity to express their thoughts without undue interruptions (Trochim, Donnelly, & Arora, 2016). In respecting the autonomy of the respondents and their ability to give their narratives about issues without being pre-empted, the interviewer upholds the ideals of qualitative research.

Reflection is another critical concept that guides researchers in gathering qualitative data through interviews. Reflection on the side of the researcher is necessary both before and in the process of interviewing since it provides context and understanding about what the respondents are trying to give meaning (Kathleen Bennett DeMarrais, 1998). Nonetheless, the researchers should not attempt to blatantly ignore or avoid their own biases in the pursuit of reflexivity (Kathleen Bennett DeMarrais, 1998). In the context of qualitative interviews, the researcher should instead reflect upon and articulate the subjective responses as provided by the respondents including the biases, worldview, and perspectives. Based on this reflection, the consumers of the resultant data will be able to understand better and screen the information that was asked, data that was generated and analyzed (Patton, 2014). If the researcher has to attain this reflectivity, then he or she must recognize the fact that subjectivity and biased are not inherently harmful but unavoidable. Therefore, the researcher has to articulate both the subjectivity and bias upfront in a way that is not only precise and clear but also systematic enough for the readers to understand.

Another concept of interviewing that a qualitative researcher must embrace is informed consent (Gorman & Clayton, 2003). The primary role of a researcher in a qualitative study is to attempt at all costs to access the thoughts and feelings of the study population. Since the population under study may be too enormous as is always in most researchers, so typical responses which are obtained from voluntary respondents provides an ideal representation of the broader community (Sutton, & Austin, 2015). The nature of questions asked may sometimes relate to personal issues or episodes that the respondents may not intend to recall (Patton, 2014). Hence, the researcher has to first seek the consent of the respondents and income them of the scope, imperatives, and requirements of the interview so that they can prepare adequately to overcome the emotions that may arise.

The concept of informed consent is necessary for qualitative interviews since it underscores voluntary participation which is an ideal in sociological studies (Maxwell, 2012). In essence, the researcher should not in any way try to coerce or be perceived to force an individual to respond to a study interview. Therefore, it is the responsibility of the researcher to design mechanisms on how to obtain the informed consent of subjects to participate in the conversation (Maxwell, 2012). Through the voluntary participation, the researcher is more likely to achieve quality feedback as opposed to when people are fixated and forced to respond to a set of questions which may not be necessarily appealing to them (Lichtman, 2012). Making the full respondents attain a complete understanding of the study is a complicated process which involves full disclosure.

To obtain quality responses for use in case studies, qualitative researchers must uphold the confidentiality of the respondents at all possible costs (Markula, & Silk, (2011). The underpinning for protection of privacy is that there are specific critical information that the respondent may accidentally or voluntarily provide in the course of the interview which may risk their status if now well safeguarded (Hammersley & Traianou, 2012). Whenever there is no perceived protection of identities, the respondents are likely to be mean with the information that they provide to the respondent. Therefore, the researcher needs to promise that he or she will maintain the anonymity and or confidentiality of the research subjects (Miller, 2012). The need for anonymity become even more pronounced when the researcher is dealing with human subjects as in interviews (Sutton, & Austin, 2015). In the case of face to face interview, the researcher has the chance to interact directly with the respondent hence their identity will remain known to the client. In such instances, the researcher has the responsibility of assuring the subjects that the highest sense of confidentiality will be maintained so that they do not rescind giving crucial information for the study (Miller, 2012).

One way through which the researchers can attain operationalization is through identifying specific indicators that will be used in picking the concepts and ideas that are relevant to the study (Seidman, 2013). For instance, in a study focusing in studying social construct of masculinity in a given cultural setting, some of the indicators that will be targeted from the responses of the study subjects include the social roles assigned to men (Markula, & Silk, (2011). These functions may include breadwinning or fatherhood which may then be considered as an indicator of an individuals masculinity.

There are instances where answering some sociological questions becomes so sensitive and triggers some sense of guilt. Therefore, proximate questions may be used in accessing thoughts and opinions about such issues. The researcher must develop operational matters whose responses feed to the desired subject (Seidman, 2013). For example, in a culture where bearing many children is considered backward, it is challenging to ask the respondents perspectives about having many children. Therefore, one can ask a question like what are the challenges people face in educating many children? a response herein will indirectly provide a justification or a debunking statement as to why the society does not want families to have many children



Gorman, G. E., & Clayton, P. (2003). Qualitative research for the information professional: A practical handbook. London: Facet.

Hammersley, M., & Traianou, A. (2012). Ethics in qualitative research: Controversies and contexts. Los Angeles [i.e. Thousand Oaks, Calif.]; London: SAGE Publications

Kathleen Bennett DeMarrais (Ed.). (1998). inside stories: Qualitative research reflections. Psychology Press.

Lapan, S. D., Quartaroli, M. L. T., & Riemer, F. J. (2011). Qualitative Research: An Introduction to Methods and Designs. Hoboken: Wiley.

Lichtman, M. V. (2012). Qualitative Research in Education: A User's Guide. Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications, Inc.

Markula, P., & Silk, M. L. (2011). Qualitative research for physical culture. Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan.

Maxwell, J. A. (2012). Qualitative research design: An interactive approach. Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications, Inc.

Miller, T. (2012). Ethics in qualitative research. London: SAGE.

Patton, M. Q. (2014). Qualitative research & evaluation methods: Integrating theory and practice. Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications, Inc.

Seidman, I. (2013). Interviewing as qualitative research: A guide for researchers in education and the social sciences. New York: Teachers College Press.

Sutton, J., & Austin, Z. (2015). Qualitative research: data collection, analysis, and management. The Canadian journal of hospital pharmacy, 68(3), 226.

Trochim, W. M. K., Donnelly, J. P., & Arora, K. (2016). Research methods: The essential knowledge base. Boston: Cengage Learning.


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