Working Through Challenges in Doing Interview Research

Kathryn Roulston


Recent methodological work that draws on a ‘constructionist’ approach to interviewing – conceptualizes the interview as a socially-situated encounter in which both interviewer and interviewee play active roles. This approach takes the construction of interview data as a topic of examination. This article adopts the view that close examination of how particular interactions are accomplished provides additional insights into not only the topics discussed, but also how research design and methods might be modified to meet the needs of projects. Focus is specifically given to investigation of sequences observed as puzzling or challenging during interviews, or via interview data that emerged as problematic in the analysis process. How might close analyses of these sorts of sequences be used to inform research design and interview methods? The article explores (1) how problematic interactions identified in the analysis of focus group data can lead to modifications in research design, (2) an approach to dealing with reported data in representations of findings, and (3) how data analysis can inform question formulation in successive rounds of data generation. Findings from these types of examinations of interview data generation and analysis are valuable for informing both interview practice as well as research design in further research.

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