From 'Inside the Researchers’ Toolbox’ Professional Lecture Series by Dr Josephine Muir.
Click here for an audio version of this resource.
When should I use in-depth interviews?
- To generate ideas.
- To develop a greater understanding of an issue, topic, and even to develop a research question.
- To evaluate the impact of a particular program, policy or issue.
- To gain key stakeholder support.
- To increase the status of your research project by involving high-status people as respondents.
- When people with extensive knowledge or expertise are involved.
- When the cohort to be interviewed is relatively small.
- When you need rich, in-depth information.
- When the topic is sensitive or the operating environment is sensitive and discretion is important.
- Qualitative research tool
- Flexible (structured, semi-, unstructured)
- Information gathering
- Seeks understanding and interpretation
An in-depth interview can be defined as an interaction between two people; a "conversation" where the researcher:
“… attempts to understand the world from the subjects' point of view, to unfold the meaning of peoples' experiences, to uncover their lived world prior to scientific explanations." (Kvale, 1996).
- Rich data
- Potentially intrusive
- Interpersonal dynamics
- Time consuming
DIY In-depth Interviews
Click on each of the headings below for more information.
How to conduct In-depth interviews, an academic perspective
Kvale (1996) seven steps:
How to conduct In-depth interviews, a practitioners perspective
- First contact – snail mail vs email
- Letterhead – first impressions count!
- What do you want?
- Supervisor’s contact details – phone and email.
- Workplace supervisor or authorisation.
- Face-to-face? Phone? Video conferencing?
- Accessible and available target group?
Asking the right questions
- Choose your words carefully
- One concept per question
Patton, M. Q. (1990). Qualitative Evaluation and Research Methods (2nd ed.). Newbury Park, CA: Sage.
- Confidentiality, informed consent, risk assessment, promises and reciprocity, interviewer mental health
Help! I’m drowning in data!
Coding (Berkowitz, 1997)
- What patterns or common themes emerge?
- Are there any deviations from these patterns? If so, how can these be explained?
- What interesting ‘stories’ emerge from the responses?
- Do any of these patterns suggest that additional data may be needed?
- Do the patterns that emerge corroborate the findings of any corresponding qualitative analyses that have been conducted? If not, what might explain these discrepancies?
Kvale, S. (1996). Inter Views: An Introduction to Qualitative Research Interviewing. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Rubin, H.J. & Rubin, I.S. (2004). Qualitative Interviewing: The Art of Hearing Data (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Denzin, N.K., & Y. S. Lincoln (ed). 1998. The Landscape of Qualitative Research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Minichello, V., R. Aroni, E. Timewell and L. Alexander. 1995. In-depth Interviewing: Principles, Techniques, Analysis. Melbourne: Longman.