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
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
4.4.3 Interviewing
4.4.4 Recording interview data Written recording Mechanical recording Transcription Verbatim recording as naturalistic or objective

4.5 Analysing in-depth interview data
4.6 Summary and conclusion

4.4 Doing in-depth interviews

4.4.4 Recording interview data

When conducting an interview it is necessary, in one way or another to make a record of what was said by the interviewer and respondent(s). The researcher needs to decide, at the outset, whether the research will draw on a precis of what is said or requires a full accurate account.

This will depend on the purpose of the in-depth interview (see Section 4.3). In most cases it is useful to have a full record of the interview so that any details of what was said can be checked. A verbatim (word for word) record is often preferable but not always easy to achieve. It is possible to make verbatim recordings using written techniques such as short-hand note taking or stenography. Mostly, though, verbatim recording is usually via a recording device such as an audio or video recorder.

The problem in recording an in-depth interview is that while the words may actually be recorded accurately (if all parties speak clearly throughout), it is difficult to record the non-verbal interaction, which may be significant.

With the widespread availability of video on smart phones, there is more possibility to make a visual recording of the interview. However, this should only be done if the interviewee consents. The researcher also needs to be aware that in-depth interviews normally last a long time and the recording device needs to have sufficient memory/space for the recording. The recording device needs to be unobtrusive and the interviewer should not constantly be attending to the device and distracting from the interview.

The more intrusive the recording process, the more difficult it is for the parties involved to ignore it and the more likely they will take it into account when asking questions or providing answers.


Next Written recording