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  Consider the following question: Is interview data an appropriate choice


Consider the following question: Is interview data an appropriate choice for your study?

In-depth and semi-structured interviews explore the experiences of participants and the meanings the participants attribute to those experiences. Researchers encourage participants to talk about issues pertinent to the research question by asking open-ended questions, usually in one-on-one interviews. The interviewer might re-word, re-order, or clarify questions to further investigate topics the respondent introduces.

The data collection method of interviewing is a good choice when the researcher wants to spend time with people who have experienced the phenomenon of interest, has the intent to listen to detailed stories and experiences, and is receptive to new or discrepant ideas and stories that may vary from the original plan of the study.

However, this method requires access to participants who are able and willing to share their thoughts. This labor-intensive process of recruiting, scheduling, interviewing, and transcribing requires initiative, persistence, and the ability to spend time with people you do not know.

For your Workshop this week, you will consider the application of this strategy to your study.


In this week’s Workshop, visit your unique thread and post responses to the following:

  • What is the current version of your research question? (  Factors related to African American males being targets of police brutality at disproportionate rates )
  • Reflect on the choice of interviewing as the data collection method for addressing your proposed study. Why might you choose interviewing over other qualitative data collection techniques (e.g., focus groups, observational data collection)?
  • Consider the kinds of questions you would like to ask. Are they personal? Embarrassing? Might they put your participants at risk? Provide some examples of the kinds of questions you would like to ask.
  • Identify one or more possible ethical considerations given the types of questions you would like to ask. For example, if you are asking someone to reflect on his or her experience as a drug addict, perhaps that person will reveal stories about hurting loved ones or breaking the law. How might you handle this?


Required Readings

Patton, M. Q. (2015). Qualitative research & evaluation methods: Integrating theory and practice (4th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.
Chapter 7, “Qualitative Interviewing” (pp. 421–518)

Baker, S. E., Edwards, R., & Doidge, M. (2012). How many qualitative interviews is enough? Expert voices and early career reflections on sampling and cases in qualitative research. Retrieved from National Centre for Research Methods website:
Baker, S.; Edwards, R. (2012). How Many Qualitative Interviews is Enough?: Expert Voices and Early Career Reflections on Sampling and Cases in Qualitative Research. National Centre for Research Methods, 1–42. Used with permission of Sarah Baker and Rosalind Edwards. 

Guest, G., Bunce, A., & Johnson, L. (2006). How many interviews are enough? An experiment with data saturation and variability. Field methods,18(1), 59-82.

Mason, M. (2010). Sample size and saturation in PhD studies using qualitative interviews. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung/Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 11(3), article 8. Retrieved from
Mason, Mark (2010). Sample Size and Saturation in PhD Studies Using Qualitative Interviews [63 paragraphs]. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 11(3), Art. 8, Used under The Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

Seidman, I. (2012). Interviewing as qualitative research: A guide for researchers in education and the social sciences (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Teachers College.
Why Interview? Interviewing as Qualitative Research: A Guide for Researchers in Education and the Social Sciences, 3rd Edition by Seidman, I. Copyright 2006 by Teachers College Press. Reprinted by permission of Teachers College Press via the Copyright Clearance Center.
Chapter 1, “Why Interview” (pp. 7–14)

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