Dissertation Research Interview Designs
How your dissertation research interview goes depends on whether the interview is structured, semi-structured or unstructured. Which method you choose depends on what you want to find out, who you’re talking to and your own personal style. In the following table you can see some of the features and some of the advantages and disadvantages of the different approaches to interviewing.
|Uses direct and specific questions only||Some key questions planned, with allowance for other issues to
|Free-flowing discussion; no fixed agenda|
|Specific order of questions||Indicative order of questions, but okay to depart from the
|No specific order for questions|
|The focus on how many people make the same points rather than
|Supplementary questions are offered to collate people’s
different viewpoints, but all are expected to answer the main
|The interviewer is seeking depth of response and follows the
interests of the interviewee
|Must follow fixed schedule||Can leave out some questions as appropriate||Difficult to replicate as follows interests of interviewee and
these will differ from person to person
|Rather rigid style||Relaxed style||Conversational|
When you’re deciding which of the interview styles is best for you, you also need to take into account whether the style of interview is going to affect your note-taking or transcribing when you’re doing your data analysis after the interview.
It’s possible that an unstructured interview wanders so widely that it’s going to be more difficult to analyse. Or a highly structured interview, although giving you the necessary data, may not allow for illustrative examples or richness of response.