Orientation Observation In-depth interviews Document analysis and semiology Conversation and discourse analysis Secondary Data Surveys Experiments Ethics Research outcomes



Social Research Glossary

About Researching the Real World



© Lee Harvey 2012–2019

Page updated 25 January, 2019

Citation reference: Harvey, L., 2012–2019, Researching the Real World, available at
All rights belong to author.


A Guide to Methodology

4. In-depth interviews

4.1 Introduction to in-depth interviewing
4.2 Types of in-depth interview
4.3 Methodological approaches to in-depth interviews
4.4 Doing in-depth interviews

4.4.1 Constructing an interview guide
4.4.2 Setting up the interviews Sequence Locating respondents Explaining the research Hiding the purpose of the interview Seeking permission Interview setting

4.4.3 Interviewing
4.4.4 Recording interview data

4.5 Analysing in-depth interview data
4.6 Summary and conclusion


4.4 Doing in-depth interviews Explaining the research
Before approaching potential informants and requesting their participation, the researcher should consider and plan the account that will be given of the research. Often a straightforward approach is best; telling potential respondents about the project being undertaken, the number and anticipated duration of interviews and the general topic area to be covered. (See also Section 3.2.2 on openness of observation research.)

In most situations, it is important that the researcher provides an account of the research that easily comprehensible, believable and one in which respondents can have confidence. If respondents feel that the researcher/interviewer is indifferent to their interests then they are unlikely to provide the information required, if, indeed, they agree to participate at all. However, there are times when the specific aim of the research is not revealed to the subjects.

1. Decide on a realistic number of informants to interview for a student project, the type of people you want (age, sex, etc.) and possible ways of locating them (build on Activity 4.4.1).
2. Plan an introduction to yourself and your project that you would use when first contacting informants.
This is a planning activity that would take about half an hour.


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