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  • Volume 7, Issue 2
  • Semistructured interviewing in primary care research: a balance of relationship and rigour
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  • http://orcid.org/0000-0002-2660-3358 Melissa DeJonckheere 1 and
  • Lisa M Vaughn 2 , 3
  • 1 Department of Family Medicine , University of Michigan , Ann Arbor , Michigan , USA
  • 2 Department of Pediatrics , University of Cincinnati College of Medicine , Cincinnati , Ohio , USA
  • 3 Division of Emergency Medicine , Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center , Cincinnati , Ohio , USA
  • Correspondence to Dr Melissa DeJonckheere; mdejonck{at}med.umich.edu

Semistructured in-depth interviews are commonly used in qualitative research and are the most frequent qualitative data source in health services research. This method typically consists of a dialogue between researcher and participant, guided by a flexible interview protocol and supplemented by follow-up questions, probes and comments. The method allows the researcher to collect open-ended data, to explore participant thoughts, feelings and beliefs about a particular topic and to delve deeply into personal and sometimes sensitive issues. The purpose of this article was to identify and describe the essential skills to designing and conducting semistructured interviews in family medicine and primary care research settings. We reviewed the literature on semistructured interviewing to identify key skills and components for using this method in family medicine and primary care research settings. Overall, semistructured interviewing requires both a relational focus and practice in the skills of facilitation. Skills include: (1) determining the purpose and scope of the study; (2) identifying participants; (3) considering ethical issues; (4) planning logistical aspects; (5) developing the interview guide; (6) establishing trust and rapport; (7) conducting the interview; (8) memoing and reflection; (9) analysing the data; (10) demonstrating the trustworthiness of the research; and (11) presenting findings in a paper or report. Semistructured interviews provide an effective and feasible research method for family physicians to conduct in primary care research settings. Researchers using semistructured interviews for data collection should take on a relational focus and consider the skills of interviewing to ensure quality. Semistructured interviewing can be a powerful tool for family physicians, primary care providers and other health services researchers to use to understand the thoughts, beliefs and experiences of individuals. Despite the utility, semistructured interviews can be intimidating and challenging for researchers not familiar with qualitative approaches. In order to elucidate this method, we provide practical guidance for researchers, including novice researchers and those with few resources, to use semistructured interviewing as a data collection strategy. We provide recommendations for the essential steps to follow in order to best implement semistructured interviews in family medicine and primary care research settings.

  • qualitative research

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Semistructured interviews can be used by family medicine researchers in clinical settings or academic settings even with few resources. In contrast to large-scale epidemiological studies, or even surveys, a family medicine researcher can conduct a highly meaningful project with interviews with as few as 8–12 participants. For example, Chang and her colleagues, all family physicians, conducted semistructured interviews with 10 providers to understand their perspectives on weight gain in pregnant patients. 1 The interviewers asked questions about providers’ overall perceptions on weight gain, their clinical approach to weight gain during pregnancy and challenges when managing weight gain among pregnant patients. Additional examples conducted by or with family physicians or in primary care settings are summarised in table 1 . 1–6

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Examples of research articles using semistructured interviews in primary care research

From our perspective as seasoned qualitative researchers, conducting effective semistructured interviews requires: (1) a relational focus, including active engagement and curiosity, and (2) practice in the skills of interviewing. First, a relational focus emphasises the unique relationship between interviewer and interviewee. To obtain quality data, interviews should not be conducted with a transactional question-answer approach but rather should be unfolding, iterative interactions between the interviewer and interviewee. Second, interview skills can be learnt. Some of us will naturally be more comfortable and skilful at conducting interviews but all aspects of interviews are learnable and through practice and feedback will improve. Throughout this article, we highlight strategies to balance relationship and rigour when conducting semistructured interviews in primary care and the healthcare setting.

Qualitative research interviews are ‘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’ (p 1). 7 Qualitative research interviews unfold as an interviewer asks questions of the interviewee in order to gather subjective information about a particular topic or experience. Though the definitions and purposes of qualitative research interviews vary slightly in the literature, there is common emphasis on the experiences of interviewees and the ways in which the interviewee perceives the world (see table 2 for summary of definitions from seminal texts).

Definitions of qualitative interviews

The most common type of interview used in qualitative research and the healthcare context is semistructured interview. 8 Figure 1 highlights the key features of this data collection method, which is guided by a list of topics or questions with follow-up questions, probes and comments. Typically, the sequencing and wording of the questions are modified by the interviewer to best fit the interviewee and interview context. Semistructured interviews can be conducted in multiple ways (ie, face to face, telephone, text/email, individual, group, brief, in-depth), each of which have advantages and disadvantages. We will focus on the most common form of semistructured interviews within qualitative research—individual, face-to-face, in-depth interviews.

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Key characteristics of semistructured interviews.

Purpose of semistructured interviews

The overall purpose of using semistructured interviews for data collection is to gather information from key informants who have personal experiences, attitudes, perceptions and beliefs related to the topic of interest. Researchers can use semistructured interviews to collect new, exploratory data related to a research topic, triangulate other data sources or validate findings through member checking (respondent feedback about research results). 9 If using a mixed methods approach, semistructured interviews can also be used in a qualitative phase to explore new concepts to generate hypotheses or explain results from a quantitative phase that tests hypotheses. Semistructured interviews are an effective method for data collection when the researcher wants: (1) to collect qualitative, open-ended data; (2) to explore participant thoughts, feelings and beliefs about a particular topic; and (3) to delve deeply into personal and sometimes sensitive issues.

Designing and conducting semistructured interviews

In the following section, we provide recommendations for the steps required to carefully design and conduct semistructured interviews with emphasis on applications in family medicine and primary care research (see table 3 ).

Steps to designing and conducting semistructured interviews

Steps for designing and conducting semistructured interviews

Step 1: determining the purpose and scope of the study.

The purpose of the study is the primary objective of your project and may be based on an anecdotal experience, a review of the literature or previous research finding. The purpose is developed in response to an identified gap or problem that needs to be addressed.

Research questions are the driving force of a study because they are associated with every other aspect of the design. They should be succinct and clearly indicate that you are using a qualitative approach. Qualitative research questions typically start with ‘What’, ‘How’ or ‘Why’ and focus on the exploration of a single concept based on participant perspectives. 10

Step 2: identifying participants

After deciding on the purpose of the study and research question(s), the next step is to determine who will provide the best information to answer the research question. Good interviewees are those who are available, willing to be interviewed and have lived experiences and knowledge about the topic of interest. 11 12 Working with gatekeepers or informants to get access to potential participants can be extremely helpful as they are trusted sources that control access to the target sample.

Sampling strategies are influenced by the research question and the purpose of the study. Unlike quantitative studies, statistical representativeness is not the goal of qualitative research. There is no calculation of statistical power and the goal is not a large sample size. Instead, qualitative approaches seek an in-depth and detailed understanding and typically use purposeful sampling. See the study of Hatch for a summary of various types of purposeful sampling that can be used for interview studies. 12

‘How many participants are needed?’ The most common answer is, ‘it depends’—it depends on the purpose of the study, what kind of study is planned and what questions the study is trying to answer. 12–14 One common standard in qualitative sample sizes is reaching thematic saturation, which refers to the point at which no new thematic information is gathered from participants. Malterud and colleagues discuss the concept of information power , or a qualitative equivalent to statistical power, to determine how many interviews should be collected in a study. They suggest that the size of a sample should depend on the aim, homogeneity of the sample, theory, interview quality and analytic strategy. 14

Step 3: considering ethical issues

An ethical attitude should be present from the very beginning of the research project even before you decide who to interview. 15 This ethical attitude should incorporate respect, sensitivity and tact towards participants throughout the research process. Because semistructured interviewing often requires the participant to reveal sensitive and personal information directly to the interviewer, it is important to consider the power imbalance between the researcher and the participant. In healthcare settings, the interviewer or researcher may be a part of the patient’s healthcare team or have contact with the healthcare team. The researchers should ensure the interviewee that their participation and answers will not influence the care they receive or their relationship with their providers. Other issues to consider include: reducing the risk of harm; protecting the interviewee’s information; adequately informing interviewees about the study purpose and format; and reducing the risk of exploitation. 10

Step 4: planning logistical aspects

Careful planning particularly around the technical aspects of interviews can be the difference between a great interview and a not so great interview. During the preparation phase, the researcher will need to plan and make decisions about the best ways to contact potential interviewees, obtain informed consent, arrange interview times and locations convenient for both participant and researcher, and test recording equipment. Although many experienced researchers have found themselves conducting interviews in less than ideal locations, the interview location should avoid (or at least minimise) interruptions and be appropriate for the interview (quiet, private and able to get a clear recording). 16 For some research projects, the participants’ homes may make sense as the best interview location. 16

Initial contacts can be made through telephone or email and followed up with more details so the individual can make an informed decision about whether they wish to be interviewed. Potential participants should know what to expect in terms of length of time, purpose of the study, why they have been selected and who will be there. In addition, participants should be informed that they can refuse to answer questions or can withdraw from the study at any time, including during the interview itself.

Audio recording the interview is recommended so that the interviewer can concentrate on the interview and build rapport rather than being distracted with extensive note taking 16 (see table 4 for audio-recording tips). Participants should be informed that audio recording is used for data collection and that they can refuse to be audio recorded should they prefer.

Suggestions for successful audio recording of interviews

Most researchers will want to have interviews transcribed verbatim from the audio recording. This allows you to refer to the exact words of participants during the analysis. Although it is possible to conduct analyses from the audio recordings themselves or from notes, it is not ideal. However, transcription can be extremely time consuming and, if not done yourself, can be costly.

In the planning phase of research, you will want to consider whether qualitative research software (eg, NVivo, ATLAS.ti, MAXQDA, Dedoose, and so on) will be used to assist with organising, managing and analysis. While these tools are helpful in the management of qualitative data, it is important to consider your research budget, the cost of the software and the learning curve associated with using a new system.

Step 5: developing the interview guide

Semistructured interviews include a short list of ‘guiding’ questions that are supplemented by follow-up and probing questions that are dependent on the interviewee’s responses. 8 17 All questions should be open ended, neutral, clear and avoid leading language. In addition, questions should use familiar language and avoid jargon.

Most interviews will start with an easy, context-setting question before moving to more difficult or in-depth questions. 17 Table 5 gives details of the types of guiding questions including ‘grand tour’ questions, 18 core questions and planned and unplanned follow-up questions.

Questions and prompts in semistructured interviewing

To illustrate, online supplementary appendix A presents a sample interview guide from our study of weight gain during pregnancy among young women. We start with the prompt, ‘Tell me about how your pregnancy has been so far’ to initiate conversation about their thoughts and feelings during pregnancy. The subsequent questions will elicit responses to help answer our research question about young women’s perspectives related to weight gain during pregnancy.

Supplemental material

After developing the guiding questions, it is important to pilot test the interview. Having a good sense of the guide helps you to pace the interview (and not run out of time), use a conversational tone and make necessary adjustments to the questions.

Like all qualitative research, interviewing is iterative in nature—data collection and analysis occur simultaneously, which may result in changes to the guiding questions as the study progresses. Questions that are not effective may be replaced with other questions and additional probes can be added to explore new topics that are introduced by participants in previous interviews. 10

Step 6: establishing trust and rapport

Interviews are a special form of relationship, where the interviewer and interviewee converse about important and often personal topics. The interviewer must build rapport quickly by listening attentively and respectfully to the information shared by the interviewee. 19 As the interview progresses, the interviewer must continue to demonstrate respect, encourage the interviewee to share their perspectives and acknowledge the sensitive nature of the conversation. 20

To establish rapport, it is important to be authentic and open to the interviewee’s point of view. It is possible that the participants you recruit for your study will have preconceived notions about research, which may include mistrust. As a result, it is important to describe why you are conducting the research and how their participation is meaningful. In an interview relationship, the interviewee is the expert and should be treated as such—you are relying on the interviewee to enhance your understanding and add to your research. Small behaviours that can enhance rapport include: dressing professionally but not overly formal; avoiding jargon or slang; and using a normal conversational tone. Because interviewees will be discussing their experience, having some awareness of contextual or cultural factors that may influence their perspectives may be helpful as background knowledge.

Step 7: conducting the interview

Location and set-up.

The interview should have already been scheduled at a convenient time and location for the interviewee. The location should be private, ideally with a closed door, rather than a public place. It is helpful if there is a room where you can speak privately without interruption, and where it is quiet enough to hear and audio record the interview. Within the interview space, Josselson 15 suggests an arrangement with a comfortable distance between the interviewer and interviewee with a low table in between for the recorder and any materials (consent forms, questionnaires, water, and so on).

Beginning the interview

Many interviewers start with chatting to break the ice and attempt to establish commonalities, rapport and trust. Most interviews will need to begin with a brief explanation of the research study, consent/assent procedures, rationale for talking to that particular interviewee and description of the interview format and agenda. 11 It can also be helpful if the interviewer shares a little about who they are and why they are interested in the topic. The recording equipment should have already been tested thoroughly but interviewers may want to double-check that the audio equipment is working and remind participants about the reason for recording.

Interviewer stance

During the interview, the interviewer should adopt a friendly and non-judgemental attitude. You will want to maintain a warm and conversational tone, rather than a rote, question-answer approach. It is important to recognise the potential power differential as a researcher. Conveying a sense of being in the interview together and that you as the interviewer are a person just like the interviewee can help ease any discomfort. 15

Active listening

During a face-to-face interview, there is an opportunity to observe social and non-verbal cues of the interviewee. These cues may come in the form of voice, body language, gestures and intonation, and can supplement the interviewee’s verbal response and can give clues to the interviewer about the process of the interview. 21 Listening is the key to successful interviewing. 22 Listening should be ‘attentive, empathic, nonjudgmental, listening in order to invite, and engender talk’ 15 15 (p 66). Silence, nods, smiles and utterances can also encourage further elaboration from the interviewee.

Continuing the interview

As the interview progresses, the interviewer can repeat the words used by the interviewee, use planned and unplanned follow-up questions that invite further clarification, exploration or elaboration. As DiCicco-Bloom and Crabtree 10 explain: ‘Throughout the interview, the goal of the interviewer is to encourage the interviewee to share as much information as possible, unselfconsciously and in his or her own words’ (p 317). Some interviewees are more forthcoming and will offer many details of their experiences without much probing required. Others will require prompting and follow-up to elicit sufficient detail.

As a result, follow-up questions are equally important to the core questions in a semistructured interview. Prompts encourage people to continue talking and they can elicit more details needed to understand the topic. Examples of verbal probes are repeating the participant’s words, summarising the main idea or expressing interest with verbal agreement. 8 11 See table 6 for probing techniques and example probes we have used in our own interviewing.

Probing techniques for semistructured interviews (modified from Bernard 30 )

Step 8: memoing and reflection

After an interview, it is essential for the interviewer to begin to reflect on both the process and the content of the interview. During the actual interview, it can be difficult to take notes or begin reflecting. Even if you think you will remember a particular moment, you likely will not be able to recall each moment with sufficient detail. Therefore, interviewers should always record memos —notes about what you are learning from the data. 23 24 There are different approaches to recording memos: you can reflect on several specific ideas, or create a running list of thoughts. Memos are also useful for improving the quality of subsequent interviews.

Step 9: analysing the data

The data analysis strategy should also be developed during planning stages because analysis occurs concurrently with data collection. 25 The researcher will take notes, modify the data collection procedures and write reflective memos throughout the data collection process. This begins the process of data analysis.

The data analysis strategy used in your study will depend on your research question and qualitative design—see the study of Creswell for an overview of major qualitative approaches. 26 The general process for analysing and interpreting most interviews involves reviewing the data (in the form of transcripts, audio recordings or detailed notes), applying descriptive codes to the data and condensing and categorising codes to look for patterns. 24 27 These patterns can exist within a single interview or across multiple interviews depending on the research question and design. Qualitative computer software programs can be used to help organise and manage interview data.

Step 10: demonstrating the trustworthiness of the research

Similar to validity and reliability, qualitative research can be assessed on trustworthiness. 9 28 There are several criteria used to establish trustworthiness: credibility (whether the findings accurately and fairly represent the data), transferability (whether the findings can be applied to other settings and contexts), confirmability (whether the findings are biased by the researcher) and dependability (whether the findings are consistent and sustainable over time).

Step 11: presenting findings in a paper or report

When presenting the results of interview analysis, researchers will often report themes or narratives that describe the broad range of experiences evidenced in the data. This involves providing an in-depth description of participant perspectives and being sure to include multiple perspectives. 12 In interview research, the participant words are your data. Presenting findings in a report requires the integration of quotes into a more traditional written format.


Though semistructured interviews are often an effective way to collect open-ended data, there are some disadvantages as well. One common problem with interviewing is that not all interviewees make great participants. 12 29 Some individuals are hard to engage in conversation or may be reluctant to share about sensitive or personal topics. Difficulty interviewing some participants can affect experienced and novice interviewers. Some common problems include not doing a good job of probing or asking for follow-up questions, failure to actively listen, not having a well-developed interview guide with open-ended questions and asking questions in an insensitive way. Outside of pitfalls during the actual interview, other problems with semistructured interviewing may be underestimating the resources required to recruit participants, interview, transcribe and analyse the data.

Despite their limitations, semistructured interviews can be a productive way to collect open-ended data from participants. In our research, we have interviewed children and adolescents about their stress experiences and coping behaviours, young women about their thoughts and behaviours during pregnancy, practitioners about the care they provide to patients and countless other key informants about health-related topics. Because the intent is to understand participant experiences, the possible research topics are endless.

Due to the close relationships family physicians have with their patients, the unique settings in which they work, and in their advocacy, semistructured interviews are an attractive approach for family medicine researchers, even if working in a setting with limited research resources. When seeking to balance both the relational focus of interviewing and the necessary rigour of research, we recommend: prioritising listening over talking; using clear language and avoiding jargon; and deeply engaging in the interview process by actively listening, expressing empathy, demonstrating openness to the participant’s worldview and thanking the participant for helping you to understand their experience.

Further Reading

Edwards R, & Holland J. (2013). What is qualitative interviewing?: A&C Black.

Josselson R. Interviewing for qualitative inquiry: A relational approach. Guilford Press, 2013.

Kvale S. InterViews: An Introduction to Qualitative Research Interviewing. SAGE, London, 1996.

Pope C, & Mays N. (Eds). (2006). Qualitative research in health care.

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Contributors Both authors contributed equally to this work.

Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

Competing interests None declared.

Patient consent for publication Not required.

Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

Read the full text or download the PDF:

  • Harvard Library
  • Research Guides
  • Faculty of Arts & Sciences Libraries

Library Support for Qualitative Research

  • Interview Research
  • Resources for Methodology
  • Remote Research & Virtual Fieldwork

Resources for Research Interviewing

Nih-funded qualitative research.

  • Oral History
  • Data Management & Repositories
  • Campus Access

Types of Interviews

  • Engaging Participants

Interview Questions

  • Conducting Interviews
  • Transcription
  • Coding and Analysis
  • Managing & Finding Interview Data
  • UX & Market Research Interviews

Textbooks, Guidebooks, and Handbooks  

  • The Ethnographic Interview by James P. Spradley  “Spradley wrote this book for the professional and student who have never done ethnographic fieldwork (p. 231) and for the professional ethnographer who is interested in adapting the author’s procedures (p. iv). Part 1 outlines in 3 chapters Spradley’s version of ethnographic research, and it provides the background for Part 2 which consists of 12 guided steps (chapters) ranging from locating and interviewing an informant to writing an ethnography. Most of the examples come from the author’s own fieldwork among U.S. subcultures . . . Steps 6 and 8 explain lucidly how to construct a domain and a taxonomic analysis” (excerpted from book review by James D. Sexton, 1980).  
  • Fundamentals of Qualitative Research by Johnny Saldana (Series edited by Patricia Leavy)  Provides a soup-to-nuts overview of the qualitative data collection process, including interviewing, participant observation, and other methods.  
  • InterViews by Steinar Kvale  Interviewing is an essential tool in qualitative research and this introduction to interviewing outlines both the theoretical underpinnings and the practical aspects of the process. After examining the role of the interview in the research process, Steinar Kvale considers some of the key philosophical issues relating to interviewing: the interview as conversation, hermeneutics, phenomenology, concerns about ethics as well as validity, and postmodernism. Having established this framework, the author then analyzes the seven stages of the interview process - from designing a study to writing it up.  
  • Practical Evaluation by Michael Quinn Patton  Surveys different interviewing strategies, from, a) informal/conversational, to b) interview guide approach, to c) standardized and open-ended, to d) closed/quantitative. Also discusses strategies for wording questions that are open-ended, clear, sensitive, and neutral, while supporting the speaker. Provides suggestions for probing and maintaining control of the interview process, as well as suggestions for recording and transcription.  
  • The SAGE Handbook of Interview Research by Amir B. Marvasti (Editor); James A. Holstein (Editor); Jaber F. Gubrium (Editor); Karyn D. McKinney (Editor)  The new edition of this landmark volume emphasizes the dynamic, interactional, and reflexive dimensions of the research interview. Contributors highlight the myriad dimensions of complexity that are emerging as researchers increasingly frame the interview as a communicative opportunity as much as a data-gathering format. The book begins with the history and conceptual transformations of the interview, which is followed by chapters that discuss the main components of interview practice. Taken together, the contributions to The SAGE Handbook of Interview Research: The Complexity of the Craft encourage readers simultaneously to learn the frameworks and technologies of interviewing and to reflect on the epistemological foundations of the interview craft.  
  • The SAGE Handbook of Online Research Methods by Nigel G. Fielding, Raymond M. Lee and Grant Blank (Editors) Bringing together the leading names in both qualitative and quantitative online research, this new edition is organised into nine sections: 1. Online Research Methods 2. Designing Online Research 3. Online Data Capture and Data Collection 4. The Online Survey 5. Digital Quantitative Analysis 6. Digital Text Analysis 7. Virtual Ethnography 8. Online Secondary Analysis: Resources and Methods 9. The Future of Online Social Research


  • Interviews as a Method for Qualitative Research (video) This short video summarizes why interviews can serve as useful data in qualitative research.  
  • Companion website to Bloomberg and Volpe's  Completing Your Qualitative Dissertation: A Road Map from Beginning to End,  4th ed Provides helpful templates and appendices featured in the book, as well as links to other useful dissertation resources.
  • International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry Annual conference hosted by the International Center for Qualitative Inquiry at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, which aims to facilitate the development of qualitative research methods across a wide variety of academic disciplines, among other initiatives.  
  • METHODSPACE ​​​​​​​​An online home of the research methods community, where practicing researchers share how to make research easier.  
  • SAGE researchmethods ​​​​​​​Researchers can explore methods concepts to help them design research projects, understand particular methods or identify a new method, conduct their research, and write up their findings. A "methods map" facilitates finding content on methods.

The decision to conduct interviews, and the type of interviewing to use, should flow from, or align with, the methodological paradigm chosen for your study, whether that paradigm is interpretivist, critical, positivist, or participative in nature (or a combination of these).


  • Structured Interview. Entry in The SAGE Encyclopedia of Social Science Research Methodsby Floyd J. Fowler Jr., Editors: Michael S. Lewis-Beck; Alan E. Bryman; Tim Futing Liao (Editor)  A concise article noting standards, procedures, and recommendations for developing and testing structured interviews. For an example of structured interview questions, you may view the Current Population Survey, May 2008: Public Participation in the Arts Supplement (ICPSR 29641), Apr 15, 2011 at https://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR29641.v1 (To see the survey questions, preview the user guide, which can be found under the "Data and Documentation" tab. Then, look for page 177 (attachment 8).


  • Semi-Structured Interview. Entry in The SAGE Encyclopedia of Qualitative Research Methodsby Lioness Ayres; Editor: Lisa M. Given  The semi-structured interview is a qualitative data collection strategy in which the researcher asks informants a series of predetermined but open-ended questions. The researcher has more control over the topics of the interview than in unstructured interviews, but in contrast to structured interviews or questionnaires that use closed questions, there is no fixed range of responses to each question.


  • Unstructured Interview. Entry in The SAGE Encyclopedia of Qualitative Research Methodsby Michael W. Firmin; Editor: Lisa M. Given  Unstructured interviews in qualitative research involve asking relatively open-ended questions of research participants in order to discover their percepts on the topic of interest. Interviews, in general, are a foundational means of collecting data when using qualitative research methods. They are designed to draw from the interviewee constructs embedded in his or her thinking and rationale for decision making. The researcher uses an inductive method in data gathering, regardless of whether the interview method is open, structured, or semi-structured. That is, the researcher does not wish to superimpose his or her own viewpoints onto the person being interviewed. Rather, inductively, the researcher wishes to understand the participant's perceptions, helping him or her to articulate percepts such that they will be understood clearly by the journal reader.

Genres and Uses

Focus groups:.

  • "Focus Groups." Annual Review of Sociology 22 (1996): 129-1524.by David L. Morgan  Discusses the use of focus groups and group interviews as methods for gathering qualitative data used by sociologists and other academic and applied researchers. Focus groups are recommended for giving voice to marginalized groups and revealing the group effect on opinion formation.  
  • Qualitative Research Methods: A Data Collector's Field Guide (See Module 4: "Focus Groups")by Mack, N., et al.  This field guide is based on an approach to doing team-based, collaborative qualitative research that has repeatedly proven successful in research projects sponsored by Family Health International (FHI) throughout the developing world. With its straightforward delivery of information on the main qualitative methods being used in public health research today, the guide speaks to the need for simple yet effective instruction on how to do systematic and ethically sound qualitative research. The aim of the guide is thus practical. In bypassing extensive discussion on the theoretical underpinnings of qualitative research, it distinguishes itself as a how-to guide to be used in the field.

In-Depth (typically One-on-One):

  • A Practical Introduction to in-Depth Interviewingby Alan Morris  Are you new to qualitative research or a bit rusty and in need of some inspiration? Are you doing a research project involving in-depth interviews? Are you nervous about carrying out your interviews? This book will help you complete your qualitative research project by providing a nuts and bolts introduction to interviewing. With coverage of ethics, preparation strategies and advice for handling the unexpected in the field, this handy guide will help you get to grips with the basics of interviewing before embarking on your research. While recognising that your research question and the context of your research will drive your approach to interviewing, this book provides practical advice often skipped in traditional methods textbooks.  
  • Qualitative Research Methods: A Data Collector's Field Guide (See Module 3: "In-Depth Interviews")by Mack, N., et al.  This field guide is based on an approach to doing team-based, collaborative qualitative research that has repeatedly proven successful in research projects sponsored by Family Health International (FHI) throughout the developing world. With its straightforward delivery of information on the main qualitative methods being used in public health research today, the guide speaks to the need for simple yet effective instruction on how to do systematic and ethically sound qualitative research. The aim of the guide is thus practical. In bypassing extensive discussion on the theoretical underpinnings of qualitative research, it distinguishes itself as a how-to guide to be used in the field.

Folklore Research and Oral Histories:

In addition to the following resource, see the  Oral History   page of this guide for helpful resources on Oral History interviewing.

American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. Folklife and Fieldwork: A Layman’s Introduction to Field Techniques Interviews gathered for purposes of folklore research are similar to standard social science interviews in some ways, but also have a good deal in common with oral history approaches to interviewing. The focus in a folklore research interview is on documenting and trying to understand the interviewee's way of life relative to a culture or subculture you are studying. This guide includes helpful advice and tips for conducting fieldwork in folklore, such as tips for planning, conducting, recording, and archiving interviews.

An interdisciplinary scientific program within the Institute for Quantitative Social Science which encourages and facilitates research and instruction in the theory and practice of survey research. The primary mission of PSR is to provide survey research resources to enhance the quality of teaching and research at Harvard.

  • Internet, Phone, Mail, and Mixed-Mode Surveysby Don A. Dillman; Jolene D. Smyth; Leah Melani Christian  The classic survey design reference, updated for the digital age. The new edition is thoroughly updated and revised, and covers all aspects of survey research. It features expanded coverage of mobile phones, tablets, and the use of do-it-yourself surveys, and Dillman's unique Tailored Design Method is also thoroughly explained. This new edition is complemented by copious examples within the text and accompanying website. It includes: Strategies and tactics for determining the needs of a given survey, how to design it, and how to effectively administer it. How and when to use mail, telephone, and Internet surveys to maximum advantage. Proven techniques to increase response rates. Guidance on how to obtain high-quality feedback from mail, electronic, and other self-administered surveys. Direction on how to construct effective questionnaires, including considerations of layout. The effects of sponsorship on the response rates of surveys. Use of capabilities provided by newly mass-used media: interactivity, presentation of aural and visual stimuli. The Fourth Edition reintroduces the telephone--including coordinating land and mobile.

User Experience (UX) and Marketing:

  • See the  "UX & Market Research Interviews"  tab on this guide, above. May include  Focus Groups,  above.

Screening for Research Site Selection:

  • Research interviews are used not only to furnish research data for theoretical analysis in the social sciences, but also to plan other kinds of studies. For example, interviews may allow researchers to screen appropriate research sites to conduct empirical studies (such as randomized controlled trials) in a variety of fields, from medicine to law. In contrast to interviews conducted in the course of social research, such interviews do not typically serve as the data for final analysis and publication.


Research ethics  .

  • Human Subjects (IRB) The Committee on the Use of Human Subjects (CUHS) serves as the Institutional Review Board for the University area which includes the Cambridge and Allston campuses at Harvard. Find your IRB  contact person , or learn about  required ethics training.  You may also find the  IRB Lifecycle Guide  helpful. This is the preferred IRB portal for Harvard graduate students and other researchers. IRB forms can be downloaded via the  ESTR Library  (click on the "Templates and Forms" tab, then navigate to pages 2 and 3 to find the documents labelled with “HUA” for the Harvard University Area IRB. Nota bene: You may use these forms only if you submit your study to the Harvard University IRB). The IRB office can be reached through email at [email protected] or by telephone at (617) 496-2847.  
  • Undergraduate Research Training Program (URTP) Portal The URTP at Harvard University is a comprehensive platform to create better prepared undergraduate researchers. The URTP is comprised of research ethics training sessions, a student-focused curriculum, and an online decision form that will assist students in determining whether their project requires IRB review. Students should examine the  URTP's guide for student researchers: Introduction to Human Subjects Research Protection.  
  • Ethics reports From the Association of Internet Researchers (AoIR)  
  • Respect, Beneficence, and Justice: QDR General Guidance for Human Participants If you are hoping to share your qualitative interview data in a repository after it has been collected, you will need to plan accordingly via informed consent, careful de-identification procedures, and data access controls. Consider  consulting with the Qualitative Research Support Group at Harvard Library  and consulting with  Harvard's Dataverse contacts  to help you think through all of the contingencies and processes.  
  • "Conducting a Qualitative Child Interview: Methodological Considerations." Journal of Advanced Nursing 42/5 (2003): 434-441 by Kortesluoma, R., et al.  The purpose of this article is to illustrate the theoretical premises of child interviewing, as well as to describe some practical methodological solutions used during interviews. Factors that influence data gathered from children and strategies for taking these factors into consideration during the interview are also described.  
  • "Crossing Cultural Barriers in Research Interviewing." Qualitative Social Work 63/3 (2007): 353-372 by Sands, R., et al.  This article critically examines a qualitative research interview in which cultural barriers between a white non-Muslim female interviewer and an African American Muslim interviewee, both from the USA, became evident and were overcome within the same interview.  
  • Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples by Linda Tuhiwai Smith  This essential volume explores intersections of imperialism and research - specifically, the ways in which imperialism is embedded in disciplines of knowledge and tradition as 'regimes of truth.' Concepts such as 'discovery' and 'claiming' are discussed and an argument presented that the decolonization of research methods will help to reclaim control over indigenous ways of knowing and being. The text includes case-studies and examples, and sections on new indigenous literature and the role of research in indigenous struggles for social justice.  

This resource, sponsored by University of Oregon Libraries, exemplifies the use of interviewing methodologies in research that foregrounds traditional knowledge. The methodology page summarizes the approach.

  • Ethics: The Need to Tread Carefully. Chapter in A Practical Introduction to in-Depth Interviewing by Alan Morris  Pay special attention to the sections in chapter 2 on "How to prevent and respond to ethical issues arising in the course of the interview," "Ethics in the writing up of your interviews," and "The Ethics of Care."  
  • Handbook on Ethical Issues in Anthropology by Joan Cassell (Editor); Sue-Ellen Jacobs (Editor)  This publication of the American Anthropological Association presents and discusses issues and sources on ethics in anthropology, as well as realistic case studies of ethical dilemmas. It is meant to help social science faculty introduce discussions of ethics in their courses. Some of the topics are relevant to interviews, or at least to studies of which interviews are a part. See chapters 3 and 4 for cases, with solutions and commentary, respectively.  
  • Research Ethics from the Chanie Wenjack School for Indigenous Studies, Trent University  (Open Access) An overview of Indigenous research ethics and protocols from the across the globe.  
  • Resources for Equity in Research Consult these resources for guidance on creating and incorporating equitable materials into public health research studies that entail community engagement.

The SAGE Handbook of Qualitative Research Ethics by Ron Iphofen (Editor); Martin Tolich (Editor)  This handbook is a much-needed and in-depth review of the distinctive set of ethical considerations which accompanies qualitative research. This is particularly crucial given the emergent, dynamic and interactional nature of most qualitative research, which too often allows little time for reflection on the important ethical responsibilities and obligations. Contributions from leading international researchers have been carefully organized into six key thematic sections: Part One: Thick Descriptions Of Qualitative Research Ethics; Part Two: Qualitative Research Ethics By Technique; Part Three: Ethics As Politics; Part Four: Qualitative Research Ethics With Vulnerable Groups; Part Five: Relational Research Ethics; Part Six: Researching Digitally. This Handbook is a one-stop resource on qualitative research ethics across the social sciences that draws on the lessons learned and the successful methods for surmounting problems - the tried and true, and the new.


Research Compliance Program for FAS/SEAS at Harvard : The Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS), including the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS), and the Office of the Vice Provost for Research (OVPR) have established a shared Research Compliance Program (RCP). An area of common concern for interview studies is international projects and collaboration . RCP is a resource to provide guidance on which international activities may be impacted by US sanctions on countries, individuals, or entities and whether licenses or other disclosure are required to ship or otherwise share items, technology, or data with foreign collaborators.

  • Harvard Global Support Services (GSS) is for students, faculty, staff, and researchers who are studying, researching, or working abroad. Their services span safety and security, health, culture, outbound immigration, employment, financial and legal matters, and research center operations. These include travel briefings and registration, emergency response, guidance on international projects, and managing in-country operations.

Generative AI: Harvard-affiliated researchers should not enter data classified as confidential ( Level 2 and above ), including non-public research data, into publicly-available generative AI tools, in accordance with the University’s Information Security Policy. Information shared with generative AI tools using default settings is not private and could expose proprietary or sensitive information to unauthorized parties.

Privacy Laws: Be mindful of any potential privacy laws that may apply wherever you conduct your interviews. The General Data Protection Regulation is a high-profile example (see below):

  • General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) This Regulation lays down rules relating to the protection of natural persons with regard to the processing of personal data and rules relating to the free movement of personal data. It protects fundamental rights and freedoms of natural persons and in particular their right to the protection of personal data. The free movement of personal data within the Union shall be neither restricted nor prohibited for reasons connected with the protection of natural persons with regard to the processing of personal data. For a nice summary of what the GDPR requires, check out the GDPR "crash course" here .


If you would like to see examples of consent forms, ask your local IRB, or take a look at these resources:

  • Model consent forms for oral history, suggested by the Centre for Oral History and Digital Storytelling at Concordia University  
  • For NIH-funded research, see this  resource for developing informed consent language in research studies where data and/or biospecimens will be stored and shared for future use.


If you wish to assemble resources to aid in sampling, such as the USPS Delivery Sequence File, telephone books, or directories of organizations and listservs, please contact our  data librarian  or write to  [email protected] .

  • Research Randomizer   A free web-based service that permits instant random sampling and random assignment. It also contains an interactive tutorial perfect for students taking courses in research methods.  
  • Practical Tools for Designing and Weighting Survey Samples by Richard Valliant; Jill A. Dever; Frauke Kreuter  Survey sampling is fundamentally an applied field. The goal in this book is to put an array of tools at the fingertips of practitioners by explaining approaches long used by survey statisticians, illustrating how existing software can be used to solve survey problems, and developing some specialized software where needed. This book serves at least three audiences: (1) Students seeking a more in-depth understanding of applied sampling either through a second semester-long course or by way of a supplementary reference; (2) Survey statisticians searching for practical guidance on how to apply concepts learned in theoretical or applied sampling courses; and (3) Social scientists and other survey practitioners who desire insight into the statistical thinking and steps taken to design, select, and weight random survey samples. Several survey data sets are used to illustrate how to design samples, to make estimates from complex surveys for use in optimizing the sample allocation, and to calculate weights. Realistic survey projects are used to demonstrate the challenges and provide a context for the solutions. The book covers several topics that either are not included or are dealt with in a limited way in other texts. These areas include: sample size computations for multistage designs; power calculations related to surveys; mathematical programming for sample allocation in a multi-criteria optimization setting; nuts and bolts of area probability sampling; multiphase designs; quality control of survey operations; and statistical software for survey sampling and estimation. An associated R package, PracTools, contains a number of specialized functions for sample size and other calculations. The data sets used in the book are also available in PracTools, so that the reader may replicate the examples or perform further analyses.  
  • Sampling: Design and Analysis by Sharon L. Lohr  Provides a modern introduction to the field of sampling. With a multitude of applications from a variety of disciplines, the book concentrates on the statistical aspects of taking and analyzing a sample. Overall, the book gives guidance on how to tell when a sample is valid or not, and how to design and analyze many different forms of sample surveys.  
  • Sampling Techniques by William G. Cochran  Clearly demonstrates a wide range of sampling methods now in use by governments, in business, market and operations research, social science, medicine, public health, agriculture, and accounting. Gives proofs of all the theoretical results used in modern sampling practice. New topics in this edition include the approximate methods developed for the problem of attaching standard errors or confidence limits to nonlinear estimates made from the results of surveys with complex plans.  
  • "Understanding the Process of Qualitative Data Collection" in Chapter 13 (pp. 103–1162) of 30 Essential Skills for the Qualitative Researcher by John W. Creswell  Provides practical "how-to" information for beginning researchers in the social, behavioral, and health sciences with many applied examples from research design, qualitative inquiry, and mixed methods.The skills presented in this book are crucial for a new qualitative researcher starting a qualitative project.  
  • Survey Methodology by Robert M. Groves; Floyd J. Fowler; Mick P. Couper; James M. Lepkowski; Eleanor Singer; Roger Tourangeau; Floyd J. Fowler  coverage includes sampling frame evaluation, sample design, development of questionnaires, evaluation of questions, alternative modes of data collection, interviewing, nonresponse, post-collection processing of survey data, and practices for maintaining scientific integrity.

The way a qualitative researcher constructs and approaches interview questions should flow from, or align with, the methodological paradigm chosen for the study, whether that paradigm is interpretivist, critical, positivist, or participative in nature (or a combination of these).

Constructing Your Questions

Helpful texts:.

  • "Developing Questions" in Chapter 4 (pp. 98–108) of Becoming Qualitative Researchers by Corrine Glesne  Ideal for introducing the novice researcher to the theory and practice of qualitative research, this text opens students to the diverse possibilities within this inquiry approach, while helping them understand how to design and implement specific research methods.  
  • "Learning to Interview in the Social Sciences" Qualitative Inquiry, 9(4) 2003, 643–668 by Roulston, K., deMarrais, K., & Lewis, J. B. See especially the section on "Phrasing and Negotiating Questions" on pages 653-655 and common problems with framing questions noted on pages 659 - 660.  
  • Qualitative Research Interviewing: Biographic Narrative and Semi-Structured Methods (See sections on “Lightly and Heavily Structured Depth Interviewing: Theory-Questions and Interviewer-Questions” and “Preparing for any Interviewing Sequence") by Tom Wengraf  Unique in its conceptual coherence and the level of practical detail, this book provides a comprehensive resource for those concerned with the practice of semi-structured interviewing, the most commonly used interview approach in social research, and in particular for in-depth, biographic narrative interviewing. It covers the full range of practices from the identification of topics through to strategies for writing up research findings in diverse ways.  
  • "Scripting a Qualitative Purpose Statement and Research Questions" in Chapter 12 (pp. 93–102) of 30 Essential Skills for the Qualitative Researcher by John W. Creswell  Provides practical "how-to" information for beginning researchers in the social, behavioral, and health sciences with many applied examples from research design, qualitative inquiry, and mixed methods.The skills presented in this book are crucial for a new qualitative researcher starting a qualitative project.  
  • Some Strategies for Developing Interview Guides for Qualitative Interviews by Sociology Department, Harvard University Includes general advice for conducting qualitative interviews, pros and cons of recording and transcription, guidelines for success, and tips for developing and phrasing effective interview questions.  
  • Tip Sheet on Question Wording by Harvard University Program on Survey Research

Let Theory Guide You:

The quality of your questions depends on how you situate them within a wider body of knowledge. Consider the following advice:

A good literature review has many obvious virtues. It enables the investigator to define problems and assess data. It provides the concepts on which percepts depend. But the literature review has a special importance for the qualitative researcher. This consists of its ability to sharpen his or her capacity for surprise (Lazarsfeld, 1972b). The investigator who is well versed in the literature now has a set of expectations the data can defy. Counterexpectational data are conspicuous, readable, and highly provocative data. They signal the existence of unfulfilled theoretical assumptions, and these are, as Kuhn (1962) has noted, the very origins of intellectual innovation. A thorough review of the literature is, to this extent, a way to manufacture distance. It is a way to let the data of one's research project take issue with the theory of one's field.

McCracken, G. (1988), The Long Interview, Sage: Newbury Park, CA, p. 31

When drafting your interview questions, remember that everything follows from your central research question. Also, on the way to writing your "operationalized" interview questions, it's  helpful to draft broader, intermediate questions, couched in theory. Nota bene:  While it is important to know the literature well before conducting your interview(s), be careful not to present yourself to your research participant(s) as "the expert," which would be presumptuous and could be intimidating. Rather, the purpose of your knowledge is to make you a better, keener listener.

If you'd like to supplement what you learned about relevant theories through your coursework and literature review, try these sources:

  • Annual Reviews   Review articles sum up the latest research in many fields, including social sciences, biomedicine, life sciences, and physical sciences. These are timely collections of critical reviews written by leading scientists.  
  • HOLLIS - search for resources on theories in your field   Modify this example search by entering the name of your field in place of "your discipline," then hit search.  
  • Oxford Bibliographies   Written and reviewed by academic experts, every article in this database is an authoritative guide to the current scholarship in a variety of fields, containing original commentary and annotations.  
  • ProQuest Dissertations & Theses (PQDT)   Indexes dissertations and masters' theses from most North American graduate schools as well as some European universities. Provides full text for most indexed dissertations from 1990-present.  
  • Very Short Introductions   Launched by Oxford University Press in 1995, Very Short Introductions offer concise introductions to a diverse range of subjects from Climate to Consciousness, Game Theory to Ancient Warfare, Privacy to Islamic History, Economics to Literary Theory.


Equipment and software:  .

  • Lamont Library  loans microphones and podcast starter kits, which will allow you to capture audio (and you may record with software, such as Garage Band). 
  • Cabot Library  loans digital recording devices, as well as USB microphones.

If you prefer to use your own device, you may purchase a small handheld audio recorder, or use your cell phone.

  • Audio Capture Basics (PDF)  - Helpful instructions, courtesy of the Lamont Library Multimedia Lab.
  • Getting Started with Podcasting/Audio:  Guidelines from Harvard Library's Virtual Media Lab for preparing your interviewee for a web-based recording (e.g., podcast, interview)
  • ​ Camtasia Screen Recorder and Video Editor
  • Zoom: Video Conferencing, Web Conferencing
  • Visit the Multimedia Production Resources guide! Consult it to find and learn how to use audiovisual production tools, including: cameras, microphones, studio spaces, and other equipment at Cabot Science Library and Lamont Library.
  • Try the virtual office hours offered by the Lamont Multimedia Lab!


Quick handout:  .

  • Research Interviewing Tips (Courtesy of Dr. Suzanne Spreadbury)

Remote Interviews:  

  • For Online or Distant Interviews, See "Remote Research & Virtual Fieldwork" on this guide .  
  • Deborah Lupton's Bibliography: Doing Fieldwork in a Pandemic

Seeking Consent:

Books and articles:  .

  • "App-Based Textual Interviews: Interacting With Younger Generations in a Digitalized Social Reallity."International Journal of Social Research Methodology (12 June 2022). Discusses the use of texting platforms as a means to reach young people. Recommends useful question formulations for this medium.  
  • "Learning to Interview in the Social Sciences." Qualitative Inquiry, 9(4) 2003, 643–668 by Roulston, K., deMarrais, K., & Lewis, J. B. See especially the section on "Phrasing and Negotiating Questions" on pages 653-655 and common problems with framing questions noted on pages 659-660.  
  • "Slowing Down and Digging Deep: Teaching Students to Examine Interview Interaction in Depth." LEARNing Landscapes, Spring 2021 14(1) 153-169 by Herron, Brigette A. and Kathryn Roulston. Suggests analysis of videorecorded interviews as a precursor to formulating one's own questions. Includes helpful types of probes.  
  • Using Interviews in a Research Project by Nigel Joseph Mathers; Nicholas J Fox; Amanda Hunn; Trent Focus Group.  A work pack to guide researchers in developing interviews in the healthcare field. Describes interview structures, compares face-to-face and telephone interviews. Outlines the ways in which different types of interview data can be analysed.  
  • “Working through Challenges in Doing Interview Research.” International Journal of Qualitative Methods, (December 2011), 348–66 by Roulston, Kathryn.  The article explores (1) how problematic interactions identified in the analysis of focus group data can lead to modifications in research design, (2) an approach to dealing with reported data in representations of findings, and (3) how data analysis can inform question formulation in successive rounds of data generation. Findings from these types of examinations of interview data generation and analysis are valuable for informing both interview practice as well as research design.


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The way a qualitative researcher transcribes interviews should flow from, or align with, the methodological paradigm chosen for the study, whether that paradigm is interpretivist, critical, positivist, or participative in nature (or a combination of these).


Before embarking on a transcription project, it's worthwhile to invest in the time and effort necessary to capture good audio, which will make the transcription process much easier. If you haven't already done so, check out the  audio capture guidelines from Harvard Library's Virtual Media Lab , or  contact a media staff member  for customized recommendations. First and foremost, be mindful of common pitfalls by watching this short video that identifies  the most common errors to avoid!


  • Adobe Premiere Pro Speech-To-Text  automatically generates transcripts and adds captions to your videos. Harvard affiliates can download Adobe Premiere in the Creative Cloud Suite.  
  • GoTranscript  provides cost-effective human-generated transcriptions.  
  • pyTranscriber  is an app for generating automatic transcription and/or subtitles for audio and video files. It uses the Google Cloud Speech-to-Text service, has a friendly graphical user interface, and is purported to work nicely with Chinese.   
  • Otter  provides a new way to capture, store, search and share voice conversations, lectures, presentations, meetings, and interviews. The startup is based in Silicon Valley with a team of experienced Ph.Ds and engineers from Google, Facebook, Yahoo and Nuance (à la Dragon). Free accounts available. This is the software that  Zoom  uses to generate automated transcripts, so if you have access to a Zoom subscription, you have access to Otter transcriptions with it (applicable in several  languages ). As with any automated approach, be prepared to correct any errors after the fact, by hand.  
  • Panopto  is available to Harvard affiliates and generates  ASR (automated speech recognition) captions . You may upload compatible audio files into it. As with any automatically generated transcription, you will need to make manual revisions. ASR captioning is available in several  languages . Panopto maintains robust security practices, including strong authentication measures and end-to-end encryption, ensuring your content remains private and protected.  
  • REV.Com  allows you to record and transcribe any calls on the iPhone, both outgoing and incoming. It may be useful for recording phone interviews. Rev lets you choose whether you want an AI- or human-generated transcription, with a fast turnaround. Rev has Service Organization Controls Type II (SOC2) certification (a SOC2 cert looks at and verifies an organization’s processing integrity, privacy practices, and security safeguards).   
  • Scribie Audio/Video Transcription  provides automated or manual transcriptions for a small fee. As with any transcription service, some revisions will be necessary after the fact, particularly for its automated transcripts.  
  • Sonix  automatically transcribes, translates, and helps to organize audio and video files in over 40 languages. It's fast and affordable, with good accuracy. The free trial includes 30 minutes of free transcription.  
  • TranscriptionWing  uses a human touch process to clean up machine-generated transcripts so that the content will far more accurately reflect your audio recording.   
  • Whisper is a tool from OpenAI that facilitates transcription of sensitive audiovisual recordings (e.g., of research interviews) on your own device. Installation and use depends on your operating system and which version you install. Important Note: The Whisper API, where audio is sent to OpenAI to be processed by them and then sent back (usually through a programming language like Python) is NOT appropriate for sensitive data. The model should be downloaded with tools such as those described in this FAQ , so that audio is kept to your local machine. For assistance, contact James Capobianco .


  • Transcription pedals  are in circulation and available to borrow from the Circulation desk at Lamont, or use at Lamont Library's Media Lab on level B. For hand-transcribing your interviews, they work in conjunction with software such as  Express Scribe , which is loaded on Media Lab computers, or you may download for free on your own machine (Mac or PC versions; scroll down the downloads page for the latter). The pedals are plug-and-play USB, allow a wide range of playback speeds, and have 3 programmable buttons, which are typically set to rewind/play/fast-forward. Instructions are included in the bag that covers installation and set-up of the software, and basic use of the pedals.


  • Try the virtual office hours offered by the Lamont Multimedia Lab!    
  • If you're creating podcasts, login to  Canvas  and check out the  Podcasting/Audio guide . 

Helpful Texts:  

  • "Transcription as a Crucial Step of Data Analysis" in Chapter 5 of The SAGE Handbook of Qualitative Data Analysisby Uwe Flick (Editor)  Covers basic terminology for transcription, shares caveats for transcribers, and identifies components of vocal behavior. Provides notation systems for transcription, suggestions for transcribing turn-taking, and discusses new technologies and perspectives. Includes a bibliography for further reading.  
  • "Transcribing the Oral Interview: Part Art, Part Science " on p. 10 of the Centre for Community Knowledge (CCK) newsletter: TIMESTAMPby Mishika Chauhan and Saransh Srivastav


Software  .

  • Free download available for Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) affiliates
  • Desktop access at Lamont Library Media Lab, 3rd floor
  • Desktop access at Harvard Kennedy School Library (with HKS ID)
  • Remote desktop access for Harvard affiliates from  IQSS Computer Labs . Email them at  [email protected] and ask for a new lab account and remote desktop access to NVivo.
  • Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) access available to Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health affiliates


Data analysis methods should flow from, or align with, the methodological paradigm chosen for your study, whether that paradigm is interpretivist, critical, positivist, or participative in nature (or a combination of these). Some established methods include Content Analysis, Critical Analysis, Discourse Analysis, Gestalt Analysis, Grounded Theory Analysis, Interpretive Analysis, Narrative Analysis, Normative Analysis, Phenomenological Analysis, Rhetorical Analysis, and Semiotic Analysis, among others. The following resources should help you navigate your methodological options and put into practice methods for coding, themeing, interpreting, and presenting your data.

  • Users can browse content by topic, discipline, or format type (reference works, book chapters, definitions, etc.). SRM offers several research tools as well: a methods map, user-created reading lists, a project planner, and advice on choosing statistical tests.  
  • Abductive Coding: Theory Building and Qualitative (Re)Analysis by Vila-Henninger, et al.  The authors recommend an abductive approach to guide qualitative researchers who are oriented towards theory-building. They outline a set of tactics for abductive analysis, including the generation of an abductive codebook, abductive data reduction through code equations, and in-depth abductive qualitative analysis.  
  • Analyzing and Interpreting Qualitative Research: After the Interview by Charles F. Vanover, Paul A. Mihas, and Johnny Saldana (Editors)   Providing insight into the wide range of approaches available to the qualitative researcher and covering all steps in the research process, the authors utilize a consistent chapter structure that provides novice and seasoned researchers with pragmatic, "how-to" strategies. Each chapter author introduces the method, uses one of their own research projects as a case study of the method described, shows how the specific analytic method can be used in other types of studies, and concludes with three questions/activities to prompt class discussion or personal study.   
  • "Analyzing Qualitative Data." Theory Into Practice 39, no. 3 (2000): 146-54 by Margaret D. LeCompte   This article walks readers though rules for unbiased data analysis and provides guidance for getting organized, finding items, creating stable sets of items, creating patterns, assembling structures, and conducting data validity checks.  
  • "Coding is Not a Dirty Word" in Chapter 1 (pp. 1–30) of Enhancing Qualitative and Mixed Methods Research with Technology by Shalin Hai-Jew (Editor)   Current discourses in qualitative research, especially those situated in postmodernism, represent coding and the technology that assists with coding as reductive, lacking complexity, and detached from theory. In this chapter, the author presents a counter-narrative to this dominant discourse in qualitative research. The author argues that coding is not necessarily devoid of theory, nor does the use of software for data management and analysis automatically render scholarship theoretically lightweight or barren. A lack of deep analytical insight is a consequence not of software but of epistemology. Using examples informed by interpretive and critical approaches, the author demonstrates how NVivo can provide an effective tool for data management and analysis. The author also highlights ideas for critical and deconstructive approaches in qualitative inquiry while using NVivo. By troubling the positivist discourse of coding, the author seeks to create dialogic spaces that integrate theory with technology-driven data management and analysis, while maintaining the depth and rigor of qualitative research.   
  • The Coding Manual for Qualitative Researchers by Johnny Saldana   An in-depth guide to the multiple approaches available for coding qualitative data. Clear, practical and authoritative, the book profiles 32 coding methods that can be applied to a range of research genres from grounded theory to phenomenology to narrative inquiry. For each approach, Saldaña discusses the methods, origins, a description of the method, practical applications, and a clearly illustrated example with analytic follow-up. Essential reading across the social sciences.  
  • Flexible Coding of In-depth Interviews: A Twenty-first-century Approach by Nicole M. Deterding and Mary C. Waters The authors suggest steps in data organization and analysis to better utilize qualitative data analysis technologies and support rigorous, transparent, and flexible analysis of in-depth interview data.  
  • From the Editors: What Grounded Theory is Not by Roy Suddaby Walks readers through common misconceptions that hinder grounded theory studies, reinforcing the two key concepts of the grounded theory approach: (1) constant comparison of data gathered throughout the data collection process and (2) the determination of which kinds of data to sample in succession based on emergent themes (i.e., "theoretical sampling").  
  • “Good enough” methods for life-story analysis, by Wendy Luttrell. In Quinn N. (Ed.), Finding culture in talk (pp. 243–268). Demonstrates for researchers of culture and consciousness who use narrative how to concretely document reflexive processes in terms of where, how and why particular decisions are made at particular stages of the research process.   
  • The Ethnographic Interview by James P. Spradley  “Spradley wrote this book for the professional and student who have never done ethnographic fieldwork (p. 231) and for the professional ethnographer who is interested in adapting the author’s procedures (p. iv) ... Steps 6 and 8 explain lucidly how to construct a domain and a taxonomic analysis” (excerpted from book review by James D. Sexton, 1980). See also:  Presentation slides on coding and themeing your data, derived from Saldana, Spradley, and LeCompte Click to request access.  
  • Qualitative Data Analysis by Matthew B. Miles; A. Michael Huberman   A practical sourcebook for researchers who make use of qualitative data, presenting the current state of the craft in the design, testing, and use of qualitative analysis methods. Strong emphasis is placed on data displays matrices and networks that go beyond ordinary narrative text. Each method of data display and analysis is described and illustrated.  
  • "A Survey of Qualitative Data Analytic Methods" in Chapter 4 (pp. 89–138) of Fundamentals of Qualitative Research by Johnny Saldana   Provides an in-depth introduction to coding as a heuristic, particularly focusing on process coding, in vivo coding, descriptive coding, values coding, dramaturgical coding, and versus coding. Includes advice on writing analytic memos, developing categories, and themeing data.   
  • "Thematic Networks: An Analytic Tool for Qualitative Research." Qualitative Research : QR, 1(3), 385–405 by Jennifer Attride-Stirling Details a technique for conducting thematic analysis of qualitative material, presenting a step-by-step guide of the analytic process, with the aid of an empirical example. The analytic method presented employs established, well-known techniques; the article proposes that thematic analyses can be usefully aided by and presented as thematic networks.  
  • Using Thematic Analysis in Psychology by Virginia Braun and Victoria Clark Walks readers through the process of reflexive thematic analysis, step by step. The method may be adapted in fields outside of psychology as relevant. Pair this with One Size Fits All? What Counts as Quality Practice in Reflexive Thematic Analysis? by Virginia Braun and Victoria Clark


The quality of your data analysis depends on how you situate what you learn within a wider body of knowledge. Consider the following advice:

Once you have coalesced around a theory, realize that a theory should  reveal  rather than  color  your discoveries. Allow your data to guide you to what's most suitable. Grounded theory  researchers may develop their own theory where current theories fail to provide insight.  This guide on Theoretical Models  from Alfaisal University Library provides a helpful overview on using theory.


Managing your elicited interview data, general guidance:  .

  • Research Data Management @ Harvard A reference guide with information and resources to help you manage your research data. See also: Harvard Research Data Security Policy , on the Harvard University Research Data Management website.  
  • Data Management For Researchers: Organize, Maintain and Share Your Data for Research Success by Kristin Briney. A comprehensive guide for scientific researchers providing everything they need to know about data management and how to organize, document, use and reuse their data.  
  • Open Science Framework (OSF) An open-source project management tool that makes it easy to collaborate within and beyond Harvard throughout a project's lifecycle. With OSF you can manage, store, and share documents, datasets, and other information with your research team. You can also publish your work to share it with a wider audience. Although data can be stored privately, because this platform is hosted on the Internet and designed with open access in mind, it is not a good choice for highly sensitive data.  
  • Free cloud storage solutions for Harvard affiliates to consider include:  Google Drive ,  DropBox , or  OneDrive ( up to DSL3 )  

Data Confidentiality and Secure Handling:  

  • Data Security Levels at Harvard - Research Data Examples This resource provided by Harvard Data Security helps you determine what level of access is appropriate for your data. Determine whether it should be made available for public use, limited to the Harvard community, or be protected as either "confidential and sensitive," "high risk," or "extremely sensitive." See also:  Harvard Data Classification Table  
  • Harvard's Best Practices for Protecting Privacy and  Harvard Information Security Collaboration Tools Matrix Follow the nuts-and-bolts advice for privacy best practices at Harvard. The latter resource reveals the level of security that can be relied upon for a large number of technological tools and platforms used at Harvard to conduct business, such as email, Slack, Accellion Kiteworks, OneDrive/SharePoint, etc.  
  • “Protecting Participant Privacy While Maintaining Content and Context: Challenges in Qualitative Data De‐identification and Sharing.” Proceedings of the ASIST Annual Meeting 57 (1) (2020): e415-420 by Myers, Long, and Polasek Presents an informed and tested protocol, based on the De-Identification guidelines published by the Qualitative Data Repository (QDR) at Syracuse University. Qualitative researchers may consult it to guide their data de-identification efforts.  
  • QDS Qualitative Data Sharing Toolkit The Qualitative Data Sharing (QDS) project and its toolkit was funded by the NIH National Human Genome Research Institute (R01HG009351). It provides tools and resources to help researchers, especially those in the health sciences, share qualitative research data while protecting privacy and confidentiality. It offers guidance on preparing data for sharing through de-identification and access control. These health sciences research datasets in ICPSR's Qualitative Data Sharing (QDS) Project Series were de-identified using the QuaDS Software and the project’s QDS guidelines.  
  • Table of De-Identification Techniques  
  • Generative AI Harvard-affiliated researchers should not enter data classified as confidential ( Level 2 and above ), including non-public research data, into publicly-available generative AI tools, in accordance with the University’s Information Security Policy. Information shared with generative AI tools using default settings is not private and could expose proprietary or sensitive information to unauthorized parties.  
  • Harvard Information Security Quick Reference Guide Storage guidelines, based on the data's security classification level (according to its IRB classification) is displayed on page 2, under "handling."  
  • Email Encryption Harvard Microsoft 365 users can now send encrypted messages and files directly from the Outlook web or desktop apps. Encrypting an email adds an extra layer of security to the message and its attachments (up to 150MB), and means only the intended recipient (and their inbox delegates with full access) can view it. Message encryption in Outlook is approved for sending high risk ( level 4 ) data and below.  

Sharing Qualitative Data:  

  • Repositories for Qualitative Data If you have cleared this intention with your IRB, secured consent from participants, and properly de-identified your data, consider sharing your interviews in one of the data repositories included in the link above. Depending on the nature of your research and the level of risk it may present to participants, sharing your interview data may not be appropriate. If there is any chance that sharing such data will be desirable, you will be much better off if you build this expectation into your plans from the beginning.  
  • Guide for Sharing Qualitative Data at ICPSR The Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) has created this resource for investigators planning to share qualitative data at ICPSR. This guide provides an overview of elements and considerations for archiving qualitative data, identifies steps for investigators to follow during the research life cycle to ensure that others can share and reuse qualitative data, and provides information about exemplars of qualitative data  

International Projects:

  • Research Compliance Program for FAS/SEAS at Harvard The Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS), including the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS), and the Office of the Vice Provost for Research (OVPR) have established a shared Research Compliance Program (RCP). An area of common concern for interview studies is international projects and collaboration . RCP is a resource to provide guidance on which international activities may be impacted by US sanctions on countries, individuals, or entities and whether licenses or other disclosure are required to ship or otherwise share items, technology, or data with foreign collaborators.

Finding Extant Interview Data

Finding journalistic interviews:  .

  • Academic Search Premier This all-purpose database is great for finding articles from magazines and newspapers. In the Advanced Search, it allows you to specify "Document Type":  Interview.  
  • Guide to Newspapers and Newspaper Indexes Use this guide created to Harvard Librarians to identify newspapers collections you'd like to search. To locate interviews, try adding the term  "interview"  to your search, or explore a database's search interface for options to  limit your search to interviews.  Nexis Uni  and  Factiva  are the two main databases for current news.   
  • Listen Notes Search for podcast episodes at this podcast aggregator, and look for podcasts that include interviews. Make sure to vet the podcaster for accuracy and quality! (Listen Notes does not do much vetting.)  
  • NPR  and  ProPublica  are two sites that offer high-quality long-form reporting, including journalistic interviews, for free.

Finding Oral History and Social Research Interviews:  

  • To find oral histories, see the Oral History   page of this guide for helpful resources on Oral History interviewing.  
  • Repositories for Qualitative Data It has not been a customary practice among qualitative researchers in the social sciences to share raw interview data, but some have made this data available in repositories, such as the ones listed on the page linked above. You may find published data from structured interview surveys (e.g., questionnaire-based computer-assisted telephone interview data), as well as some semi-structured and unstructured interviews.  
  • If you are merely interested in studies interpreting data collected using interviews, rather than finding raw interview data, try databases like  PsycInfo ,  Sociological Abstracts , or  Anthropology Plus , among others. 

Finding Interviews in Archival Collections at Harvard Library:

In addition to the databases and search strategies mentioned under the  "Finding Oral History and Social Research Interviews" category above,  you may search for interviews and oral histories (whether in textual or audiovisual formats) held in archival collections at Harvard Library.

  • HOLLIS searches all documented collections at Harvard, whereas HOLLIS for Archival Discovery searches only those with finding aids. Although HOLLIS for Archival Discovery covers less material, you may find it easier to parse your search results, especially when you wish to view results at the item level (within collections). Try these approaches:

Search in  HOLLIS :  

  • To retrieve items available online, do an Advanced Search for  interview* OR "oral histor*" (in Subject), with Resource Type "Archives/Manuscripts," then refine your search by selecting "Online" under "Show Only" on the right of your initial result list.  Revise the search above by adding your topic in the Keywords or Subject field (for example:  African Americans ) and resubmitting the search.  
  •  To enlarge your results set, you may also leave out the "Online" refinement; if you'd like to limit your search to a specific repository, try the technique of searching for  Code: Library + Collection on the "Advanced Search" page .   

Search in  HOLLIS for Archival Discovery :  

  • To retrieve items available online, search for   interview* OR "oral histor*" limited to digital materials . Revise the search above by adding your topic (for example:  artist* ) in the second search box (if you don't see the box, click +).  
  • To preview results by collection, search for  interview* OR "oral histor*" limited to collections . Revise the search above by adding your topic (for example:  artist* ) in the second search box (if you don't see the box, click +). Although this method does not allow you to isolate digitized content, you may find the refinement options on the right side of the screen (refine by repository, subject or names) helpful.  Once your select a given collection, you may search within it  (e.g., for your topic or the term interview).


Ux at harvard library  .

  • User Experience and Market Research interviews can inform the design of tangible products and services through responsive, outcome-driven insights. The  User Research Center  at Harvard Library specializes in this kind of user-centered design, digital accessibility, and testing. They also offer guidance and  resources  to members of the Harvard Community who are interested in learning more about UX methods. Contact [email protected] or consult the URC website for more information.


  • User Interviews: The Beginner’s Guide (Chris Mears)  
  • Interviewing Users (Jakob Nielsen)


  • Interviewing Users: How to Uncover Compelling Insights by Steve Portigal; Grant McCracken (Foreword by)  Interviewing is a foundational user research tool that people assume they already possess. Everyone can ask questions, right? Unfortunately, that's not the case. Interviewing Users provides invaluable interviewing techniques and tools that enable you to conduct informative interviews with anyone. You'll move from simply gathering data to uncovering powerful insights about people.  
  • Rapid Contextual Design by Jessamyn Wendell; Karen Holtzblatt; Shelley Wood  This handbook introduces Rapid CD, a fast-paced, adaptive form of Contextual Design. Rapid CD is a hands-on guide for anyone who needs practical guidance on how to use the Contextual Design process and adapt it to tactical projects with tight timelines and resources. Rapid Contextual Design provides detailed suggestions on structuring the project and customer interviews, conducting interviews, and running interpretation sessions. The handbook walks you step-by-step through organizing the data so you can see your key issues, along with visioning new solutions, storyboarding to work out the details, and paper prototype interviewing to iterate the design all with as little as a two-person team with only a few weeks to spare *Includes real project examples with actual customer data that illustrate how a CD project actually works.



Instructional Presentations on Interview Skills  

  • Interview/Oral History Research for RSRA 298B: Master's Thesis Reading and Research (Spring 2023) Slideshow covers: Why Interviews?, Getting Context, Engaging Participants, Conducting the Interview, The Interview Guide, Note Taking, Transcription, File management, and Data Analysis.  
  • Interview Skills From an online class on February 13, 2023:  Get set up for interview research. You will leave prepared to choose among the three types of interviewing methods, equipped to develop an interview schedule, aware of data management options and their ethical implications, and knowledgeable of technologies you can use to record and transcribe your interviews. This workshop complements Intro to NVivo, a qualitative data analysis tool useful for coding interview data.

NIH Data Management & Sharing Policy (DMSP) This policy, effective January 25, 2023, applies to all research, funded or conducted in whole or in part by NIH, that results in the generation of  scientific data , including NIH-funded qualitative research. Click here to see some examples of how the DMSP policy has been applied in qualitative research studies featured in the 2021 Qualitative Data Management Plan (DMP) Competition . As a resource for the community, NIH has developed a resource for developing informed consent language in research studies where data and/or biospecimens will be stored and shared for future use. It is important to note that the DMS Policy does NOT require that informed consent obtained from research participants must allow for broad sharing and the future use of data (either with or without identifiable private information). See the FAQ for more information.

  • << Previous: Remote Research & Virtual Fieldwork
  • Next: Oral History >>

Except where otherwise noted, this work is subject to a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License , which allows anyone to share and adapt our material as long as proper attribution is given. For details and exceptions, see the Harvard Library Copyright Policy ©2021 Presidents and Fellows of Harvard College.

Strengths and Weaknesses of Semi-Structured Interviews in Qualitative Research: A Critical Essay

A semi-structured interview (SSI) is one of the essential tools in conduction qualitative research. This essay draws upon the pros and cons of applying semi-structured interviews (SSI) in the qualitative research method. Moreover, the challenges of SSI during the coronavirus pandemic are critically discussed to provide plausible recommendations.

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Social Media for Knowledge Sharing in Automotive Repair pp 141–181 Cite as

Qualitative Research: Semi-structured Expert Interview

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In Chap. 5 , the motivational factors were ranked according to the relevance observed (Table 5.6 ). In the second phase of this qualitative methodology, the researcher begins with the explanation of different interview types and the justification for choosing semi-structured expert interviews for testing or adding to the factors obtained by PO.

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Translation: the Law of Informational Self-determination.

e.g. “wanna” instead of “want to”

Engl.: “You sit together with your boss and discuss and talk a bit” (23_25).

Engl.: “Yes good, first these things are discussed internally” (02_04).

Engl.: “We know each other quite well” (01_06).

Engl.: “I have experienced cases, when I just went online and started looking. Somewhere […] some community, you can still get some ideas” (23_13).

Engl.: “that one tries to help each other” (02_16).

Engl.: “our boss feel attacked on his professional honor” (14_06).

Engl.: “I think i have the ambition to just wangle some things. I take my time and persist and stay longer. I can go till 7 or 7:30”(23_47).

Engl.: “it must be fun, that is the essential” (03_24).

Engl.: “Interest are very important for me” (21_46).

Engl.: “when you have to motivate yourself” (20_43).

Engl.: “think logical that what I preach to all of them” (20_28).

Engl.: “I don’t expect that everyone knows everything—I have to know where to find it!” (10_14).

Engl.: “Yes, but the communication is very important” (06_14).

Engl.: “don’t ask […] if they do not communicate” (10_31).

Engl.: “that he can decide himself, what makes sense and what not” (02_02).

Engl.: “a good interhuman relationship and a good common basis” (17_45).

Engl.: “that the companionship is correct, as well as the interpersonal atmosphere” (10_33).

Engl.: “boss, because someone has to be there to take a decision” (23_08).

Engl.: “I usually carry a whip, but sometimes I also pet them” (06_38).

Engl.: “then I watch and check how the work proceeds” (03_16).

Engl.: “one relies on the workers, who have expertise” (07_30).

Engl.: “trust should be given, and then it should work out fine” (23_28).

Engl.: “has been in the profession for 30 years” (02_24).

Engl.: “that is because of the experience and the age” (23_37).

Engl.: “and the age pays a role and that are all factors” (03_26).

Engl.: “many things are basic repair knowledge which sometimes is missing” (23_51).

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Finkbeiner, P. (2017). Qualitative Research: Semi-structured Expert Interview. In: Social Media for Knowledge Sharing in Automotive Repair. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-48544-7_6

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    Mastering the Semi-Structured Interview and Beyondoffers an in-depth and captivating step-by-step guide to the use of semi-structured interviews in qualitative ... Front Matter Download; XML; Table of Contents ... Crafting a Design to Yield a Complete Story Download; XML; The Semi-Structured Interview as a Repertoire of Possibilities Download ...

  9. PDF Conducting an Interview in Qualitative Research

    Interviews can be categorized as structured, semi-structured, and unstructured (Neergaard & Leitch, 2015; Nicholls, 2009), and choosing the right type of interview is critical in qualitative research. Types of interviews Mason (2002) defines "qualitative interviewing" as "in-depth, semi-structured or loosely structured forms of

  10. (PDF) Conducting Semi-Structured Interviews

    Abstract. Conducted conversationally with one respondent at a time, the semi-structured interview (SSI) employs a blend of closed- and open-ended questions, often accompanied by follow-up why or ...

  11. Strengths and Weaknesses of Semi-Structured Interviews in Qualitative

    The semi-structured interview is considered and referred to as a conversation with a purpose ( Burgress, 1984) it is a widely used technique and method in qualitative research, it focuses on ...

  12. PDF KnowHow Semistructured interviews

    Semi-structured interviews are often preceded by observation, informal and unstructured interviewing in order to allow the researchers to develop a good understanding of the topic of interest necessary for developing relevant and meaningful semi-structured questions. Developing an interview guide often starts with outlining the issues/topics ...

  13. PDF Appendix 1: Semi-structured interview guide

    Appendix 1: Semi-structured interview guide Date: Interviewer: Archival #: ... health research: a qualitative study protocol 2 Appendix 2: Participant Information Sheet Experiences with Methods for Identifying and Displaying Research Gaps We invite you to take part in our research study. Before you decide whether to participate, you should

  14. Semistructured interviewing in primary care research: a balance of

    Semistructured in-depth interviews are commonly used in qualitative research and are the most frequent qualitative data source in health services research. This method typically consists of a dialogue between researcher and participant, guided by a flexible interview protocol and supplemented by follow-up questions, probes and comments. The method allows the researcher to collect open-ended ...

  15. Semi-Structured Interviewing

    The interview guide is the primary tool used by a researcher to keep a conversation flowing in a semi-structured interview. Interview guides are composed of three core elements: informed consent statements, a series of grand-tour questions with follow-up probes, and a subset of demographic questions and a closing statement. Sampling techniques ...

  16. Twelve tips for conducting qualitative research interviews

    Introduction. In medical education research, the qualitative research interview is a viable and highly utilized data-collection tool (DiCicco-Bloom and Crabtree Citation 2006; Jamshed Citation 2014).There are a range of interview formats, conducted with both individuals and groups, where semi-structured interviews are becoming increasingly prevalent in medical education research.

  17. Interview Research

    Semi-Structured: Semi-Structured Interview. Entry in The SAGE Encyclopedia of Qualitative Research Methodsby Lioness Ayres; Editor: Lisa M. Given The semi-structured interview is a qualitative data collection strategy in which the researcher asks informants a series of predetermined but open-ended questions.The researcher has more control over the topics of the interview than in unstructured ...

  18. The continuum of rapport: Ethical tensions in qualitative interviews

    As a framework for the interviews, a semi-structured interview guide was developed that covered the following topics: the emotional encounter with the research participants; building and maintaining rapport; role definition and professional support. A pilot interview was conducted to test the interview questions.

  19. Methods of data collection in qualitative research: interviews and

    There are three fundamental types of research interviews: structured, semi-structured and unstructured. Structured interviews are, essentially, verbally administered questionnaires, in which a ...

  20. Probing in qualitative research interviews: Theory and practice

    The semi-structured interview has become a pillar of contemporary qualitative research in the social sciences and beyond, yet the training provided in interviewing tends to be focused on question wording and rapport building rather than the dynamics of probing (e.g. Brinkmann and Kvale Citation 2018; Silverman Citation 2013). The potential ...

  21. Strengths and Weaknesses of Semi-Structured Interviews in Qualitative

    A semi-structured interview (SSI) is one of the essential tools in conduction qualitative research. This essay draws upon the pros and cons of applying semi-structured interviews (SSI) in the qualitative research method. Moreover, the challenges of SSI during the coronavirus pandemic are critically discussed to provide plausible recommendations.

  22. Qualitative Research: Experiences in Using Semi-Structured Interviews

    The chapter discusses "real-life" experiences in using semi-structured interviews in qualitative research. The reasons for using semi-structured interviews, the design and development of the questionnaire used, the process of interviewing and choice of interviewees, and some of the problems encountered and overcome are presented in the chapter.

  23. Qualitative Research: Semi-structured Expert Interview

    The semi-structured approach used in this research functions as "a construction site of knowledge" (Kvale 1996, p. 2). The method of interview in this context is understood as a conversation process for reconstructing the social process of knowledge sharing in the automotive repair shop. These factors are examined further in this chapter ...