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 2012–2020

Page updated 29 April, 2020

Citation reference: Harvey, L., 2012–2020, Researching the Real World, available at
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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 Rapport Probing Foreign language complications Remote interviewing Follow-up interviews Focus groups

4.4.4 Recording interview data

4.5 Analysing in-depth interview data
4.6 Summary and conclusion

4.4 Doing in-depth interviews Follow-up interviews
Follow-up interviews allow you to get a more detailed appreciation of the respondent's point of view. They do two things. First, they allow you to probe for more detail and clarification. It is not always apparent during the interview that some detail is hazy, or that contradictory statements have been made. The follow-up interview allows you to check and expand on points.

Second, once you have become familiar with the content of the preliminary interview you may become aware of aspects of the respondent's point of view that you had missed or thought irrelevant. Your own preconceptions during the first interview might have blinded you to things that are important parts of the respondent's world. When you have conducted several first interviews you can look at themes that recur and develop ideas for follow-up interviews.

So, after you have carried out your preliminary interview you should fully familiarise yourself with the data obtained. Read and reread your notes or email exchanges and listen to any recordings several times. If you have already transcribed the interviews, read the transcriptions. You will need to reconsider your original ideas and relate them to the data obtained. In this way, themes may begin to take shape and a framework for your second interview guide should develop.

In general, the second interviews follow the same general procedure and recording techniques as the first. However, the second guide usually has more specific questions than the first (including some specific to each respondent to clarify earlier responses) and the second interview is likely to be more focused than the first. There may be several rounds of interviews, especially if the follow-up is being done asynchronously (see Section

A follow-up interview also provides an opportunity to test out theoretical issues that are raised by the study.

Follow-up interviews can also be used to assess the impact of interventions. In essence, the same or similar questions are asked prior to a practical or policy intervention and then once the intervention has had time to take effect. The aim is usually to assess whether the intervention has had an impact. This technique is used both in formal surveys (see Section 8) and when using in-depth interviews.

For example, Dave Burrows (2001, p. 10) noted that under the National AIDS Demonstration and Research (NADR) project,

the US National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) funded outreach projects in 68 cities of the country. Published results of the outreach work in 20 cities found dramatic decreases in risky behaviour among program clients. the proportion of clients judged to be at high risk of infection with HIV through shared injecting equipment fell from 62% prior to receiving outreach to 31% at a 6-month follow-up interview, and similar decreases (16% to 8%) were noted in the proportion of clients judged to be at high sexual risk (Sloboda, 1998).



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