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Lots of questions

Dear all,

With a big Thank You to Christine!

This session raised a lot of questions and discussions in the breakout rooms. Just to remind you all of the main comments and ideas raised in the textchat, here is a quick summary and reminder. Feel free to continue discussing here over the next few days.

Questions for the discussion on interviews:

  • what is your interviewing context?
  • one method amongst other or just interview study?
  • what are the biases typical for interview responses?
  • does interviewing online make a difference?
  • can we use informal talks for capturing participants’ view?
  • what is the interviewer’s influence?
  • how many interviews are enough?
  • what are the most burning ethical questions when interviewing?
  • what could be the most ethical approach of eliciting the experience narratives of reticent informants?
  • what creative methods would be best to combine with intreviews with 16 years olds and above
  • how can we guard against the quality of our interview technique improving i.e. the poeple we interview last often get a better expereince and/or the data is fuller?
  • duty of care: ensure participants’ wellbeing


Questions for the practice on interviews:

  • how do you make sure peope respond “truthfully”?
  • how do you make participants feel at ease?
  • what questions to avoid?
  • when do you probe? when do you finish the interview?
  • what non-verbal cues do you use? / online?
  • how can you do active listening online?
  • what would your interview guide look like? – draft one
  • how do you gain confidence as an interviewer?
  • what to transcribe? what to leave out?
  • what online tool to use?

PS: And apologies for any typos 😉


Hello all,

It was really interesting meeting you all. When chatting to people in breakout rooms  I promised to show what my latest 'interview guide' looked like - just because it's always helpful to see examples, there are probably much better ones around! If anybody else is willing to post theirs, please do. My recent study was about students who listened  to recorded tutorials to support their language learning. Here is just a short extract which shows

  • I use the research questions as headings (these are, of course, not the questions which I asked verbatim, but they kept me on track during the interviews).
  • I entered a first broad question, or two, and then list a number of aspects which I use as prompts if participants don't cover them spontaneously. (And sometimes I added some  possible follow-up questions too)


RQ3       Which elements of tutorials are salient to learners?

 What do you remember most when thinking about the tutorial?

What did you find most useful?

If not covered unprompted, elicit information regarding

  • specific activities
  • specific visual stimuli
  • teacher talk
  • specific interactive sequences / question and answer sequences
  • contributions from peers


Am also including here the very long quote by Martyn Hammersley, which I read out but hadn't included on the actual slides -  in relation to the discussions around interviews as a discursive event and their potential to generate meaningful data.

Most qualitative researchers are concerned with reactivity and how this might distort their findings, but they do not usually believe that because interviews involve interactional processes it is impossible to draw conclusions from them about the experiences and perspectives of informants, and about the world in which they live. For example, they do not assume that what an informant says in answer to a question is entirely determined by the nature of the question. Nor do they believe that because informants must use a particular natural language, and available discursive resources, that what they say is entirely determined by these resources. “ (Hammersley, 2013, p. 75)

And yes, do carry on discussing here 🙂


That's very helpful - thank you.


How does one approach the question of translation when transcribing interviews from one language to another? Should we clean up the respondents' language, or spruce it up a bit to suit the flow of writing, or academize it?   

 Translating the very messy interview data will raise many questions, but, personally, I would say "no" to sprucing up or academicizing. When reporting interviews you may decide to summarize contributions rather than always reporting verbatim, in which case, of course, your summary can fit the flow of your own style.

I think there were people in the group with experience of translating interviews - it'd be really interesting to hear how they went about and what the main challenges were!

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