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 Seeking permission
In some circumstances, when for example, research is undertaken within an organisation, such as a work place, school or university, it is necessary to obtain the permission of managers, ownersor principals.

Sometimes this also leads to the respondent sample being selected, or invited to participate, by the management. This has the potential of skewing the respondent group or their responses. For example, Strangleman and Roberts (1999, p. 53) noted:

The fieldwork that forms the basis for this study was carried out in 1995–96 with a number of visits made to the site. In addition to an analysis of company documentation, and a small element of non-participant observation, the main focus of the research was a series of semi-structured interviews with employees. This included talking to respondents at management, supervisory and shopfloor levels. In the case of the latter two groups a selection of workers differentiated along axes of gender, skill and age was obtained. These workers were all chosen by management, although a cross-section of views was requested and seems to have been provided. In addition, another highly critical older craft worker had been interviewed as part of the project sometime before, outside the factory. While some of the language critical of the company's policy may have been toned down in the 'official' interviews, the substantive content was quite similar to that obtained outside.


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