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Primary Data Collection - Interviews

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❶Beside advantages and disadvantages due to the synchronous communication of time and the asynchronous communication of place, there are also some advantages and disadvantages that find their roots in the technology used.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Different Types of Interview Structure

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What Is a Preliminary Interview?

Interview questionnaires have a number of shortcomings, including the difficulty in establishing the truthfulness of the respondent. Collected data may lack validity. Similarly, it is not possible to tell the seriousness of the respondent in answering the questions. Quantifying the information allows the researcher to collect just a limited amount of information that lacks explanation. In addition, respondents may misunderstand the questions, and therefore, the reply may be based on their own interpretations.

Questions included in the questionnaire are based on what the researcher deems important, which can amount to researcher imposition, and the researcher may miss out on useful information. Quick Answer Advantages of interview questionnaires include the fact that information is gathered in a standardized way. Of course the value of social cues also depends on what the interviewer wants to know from the interviewee. If the interviewer is seen as a subject, and as an irreplaceable person, from whom the interviewer wants to know the attitude towards for example the labour union, then social cues are very important.

When the interviewer interviews an expert about things or persons that have nothing to do with the expert as a subject, then social cues become less important EMANS, On the other hand this visibility can lead to disturbing interviewer effects, when the interviewer guides with his or her behaviour the interviewee in a special direction. This disadvantage can be diminished by using an interview protocol and by the awareness of the interviewer of this effect.

In FtF interviews there is no significant time delay between question and answer; the interviewer and interviewee can directly react on what the other says or does. An advantage of this synchronous communication is that the answer of the interviewee is more spontaneous, without an extended reflection.

But due to this synchronous character of the medium, the interviewer must concentrate much more on the questions to be asked and the answers given. Especially when an unstructured or semi structured interview list is used, and the interviewer has to formulate questions as a result of the interactive nature of communication. FtF interviews can be tape recorded, of course with the permission of the interviewee.

Using a tape recorder has the advantage that the interview report is more accurate than writing out notes. But tape recording also brings with it the danger of not taking any notes during the interview. Taking notes during the interview is important for the interviewer, even if the interview is tape recorded: In one interview I conducted I should have taken notes because I had forgotten to push the "record" button.

Another disadvantage of tape recording the interview is the time a transcription of the tape recording consumes. The synchronous communication of time and place in a FtF interview also has the advantage that the interviewer has a lot of possibilities to create a good interview ambience. In other words the interviewer can make more use of a standardisation of the situation. On the other hand this synchronous communication of time and place can bring with it a lot of time and costs.

Interviewing an interviewee in a place some kilometres away will take a whole day, including travelling and interviewing. It can even take more days, when the interviewee is ill and didn't or couldn't reach the interviewer in time to cancel the interview. Also the costs, i. Doing research by using FtF interviews, which have to be held all over the globe, as for example is the case when doing research in the domain of virtual teams, takes a lot of effort, time and costs, and is therefore almost impossible for one researcher.

The last advantage of this interview method is that termination of a FtF interview is easy, compared to other interview methods. In the interaction between interviewer and interviewee enough clues can be given that the end of the interview is near, for example by shuffling the papers and turning off the tape recorder.

An explicit way to terminate the interview is by thanking the interviewee for cooperation and asking him or her if there are further remarks that might be relevant to the topic or the interview process. Due to the asynchronous communication of place, one of the advantages of telephone interviewing is the extended access to participants , compared to FtF interviews. People from all over the globe can be interviewed—of course if they have access to telephone or computer.

FtF interviewing can be very expensive and takes too much time. Hard to reach populations. It enables researchers to contact populations that might be difficult to work with on an FtF basis for example mothers at home with small children, shift workers, computer addicts and people with disabilities.

It is a possible means of access to people on sites, which have closed or limited access such as hospitals religious communities, prisons, the military, and cults. Some personal issues are so sensitive that participants might be reluctant to discuss them FtF with an interviewer. Access to dangerous or politically sensitive sites.

With telephone, interviewers can interview people living or working in war zones, or sites where diseases are rife, without needing to grapple with the danger—and the bureaucracy—of visiting the area. Although the interviewer can interview people that are not easy to access, one of the disadvantages of asynchronous communication of place by telephone is the reduction of social cues.

The interviewer does not see the interviewee, so body language etc. But social cues as voice and intonation are still available. Although social cues are reduced, enough social cues remain for terminating a telephone interview without a problem. Another disadvantage of asynchronous communication of place is that the interviewer has no view on the situation in which the interviewee is situated.

Because of this the interviewer has lesser possibilities to create a good interview ambience. FtF interviews can make more use of a standardisation of the situation. Due to this lessened possibility to create a standardisation of the situation with telephone an extra disadvantage is that the interviewee can stay "visible" for other employees and managers in the organisation. As I experienced for example the interviewee was called away by his manager, so the interview had to be stopped abruptly.

As in FtF interviews synchronous communication of time implies that interviewer and interviewee can directly react to what the other says. This also leads to the advantage that the interviewee is more spontaneous in his response and does not deliberate too long.

But on the other hand, the interviewer has to concentrate much more on the questions that need to be asked and the answers given. Another advantage of synchronous communication of time concerning telephone interviews is, as in FtF interviews, the interview can be tape recorded.

Tape recording a telephone interview depends on the equipment. As with FtF interview the telephone interview is also time consuming due to the fact that the tape has to be transcribed. Although the interviewer can interview people that are not easy to access, one of the disadvantages of asynchronous communication of place by MSN messenger is the absence of social cues.

The lack of some elements, as intonation, can be filled up with the use of emoticons. Before the users were able to create simple emoticons with a normal keyboard, for example a "smiley" could be made as ": This is also the case with MSN messenger, where professionally developed emoticons can be put straight into a message. Examples of emoticons [ 17 ]. The emoticons have been culturally stipulated however, and reflect culturally specific meanings.

Thus, when the interviewer conducts a MSN messenger interview with an interviewee with another cultural communication style, then the interviewer must pay careful attention to the use of emoticons. It cannot be assumed that these emoticons will be interpreted in a manner as meant by the interviewer. Diagram 2 shows clearly, that emoticons are not universal AOKI, Comparison between Western and Japanese emoticons. It is notable that strong feelings, like anger, are reflected directly in the USA and Western European culture, whereas the Japanese emoticons reflect more subtle alternatives for these feelings.

It depends of course on the topic of the research, and the questions asked, whether or not the lack of social cues are an advantage or at least neutral or a disadvantage. Asynchronous communication of place has, according to BAMPTON and COWTON , paragraph 18 , also the advantage that they "can protect the researcher by offering a degree of anonymity , perhaps through the adoption of an e-mail pseudonym. In this study individuals who met and conversed in a situation where they could not see one another, sitting in the dark, disclosed much more intimate details of their lives and of the self than did those who met and conversed in a lighted room.

Indeed, those who were in the darkened condition left the encounter feeling more positively about the other person, compared to a control condition in which people interacted with the lights on. This important phenomenon is called self-disclosure, or "the act of revealing personal information to others" ARCHER, , p. And visually anonymous participants disclosed significantly more information about themselves than non-visually anonymous participants did JOINSON, Structured interviews inevitably limit responses and the data obtained may not be reliable if there are faults in the way questions are asked or understood by the respondent.

Structured interviews can be very limiting in terms of allowing any real exploration or understanding of the responses given. In highly structured interviews the key differences, in comparison with postal questionnaire completion by the respondent, are that the researcher can explain questions that the respondent does not understand, or provide prompts to help the respondent answer the question.

Consistent prompts are agreed beforehand. The sample size for in-depth and unstructured interviews is generally small and may not be representative of a particular population. Some would argue that it can be difficult to compare the results of in-depth and unstructured interviews in that they may be very specific to a particular interaction the research interview itself. In practice many interviews are neither completely structured nor completely in-depth, but somewhere between the two.

Go to the Research Methods Hub and explore the section on Research Interviews in 'Research using primary data', in particular read the sections on 'Developing an Interview Schedule' and look at the example. Estimate the time costs of conducting a one hour recorded and fully transcribed word-for-word interview, with a professional located 30 minutes drive from your home or workplace. Advantages and Disadvantages of Different Types of Interview Structure As we saw in section 1 above, research interviews can vary a great deal in their level of structure.

Structured Interviews Emphasise Reliability - How accurately different respondents' answers can be compared Less Structured, In-Depth Interviews Emphasise Validity - How close answers get to the respondents' real views Langley, , p.


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Despite the rise in popularity of online and mobile surveys, face-to-face (in-person) interviews still remain a popular data collection method. A face-to-face interview method provides advantages over other data collection methods.

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Disadvantages of unstructured interviews The main theoretical disadvantage is the lack of reliability – unstructured Interviews lack reliability because each interview is unique – a variety of different questions are asked and phrased in a variety of different ways to different respondents.

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Face-to-face (F2F) interviewing is one of the oldest and most widely used methods of conducting primary research. F2F interviews are conducted by a market researcher and a target respondent in the street, home, office, meeting place, etc. ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES OF INTERVIEWS AS A RESEARCH METHOD ADVANTAGES DISADVANTAGES Structured interview † Allows researcher to prompt interviewee by providing a set of example responses † Has the potential to be quick and easy to conduct † Specifi c data related directly to.

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As with the advantages of conducting research interviews, disadvantages vary with the type of interview. Structured interviews inevitably limit responses and the data obtained may not be reliable if there are faults in the way questions are asked or understood by the respondent. Advantages of interview questionnaires include the fact that information is gathered in a standardized way. Questionnaires allow users to collect information quickly from a large group of people. Disadvantages of questionnaires include an inability for those responding to explain or elaborate upon.