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SOC2002 Lecture 9

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    • 1. SOC2002: Sociological Analysis and Research Methods
      • LECTURE 9: Data Collection (4)
      • Interviews and Focus Groups
      Lecturer: Bonnie Green [email_address]
    • 2. The research process: today… Friday January 11th 2008 SOC2002: Sociological Analysis & Research Methods Lecture 9 Reporting Topic/Object 1 2 3 4 5 6 LECTURES 5, 6, 7, 9 & 10 LECTURE 8 Research question Research design Data collection Data analysis Interpretation Literature review, and/or field reconnaissance Choosing indicators & Project Planning Ethics Quality
    • 3. Data Collection (4): Overview
      • What is the purpose of the qualitative interview and when is it best indicated?
      • Types of interview and focus group, and the comparison between the two
      • Practical aspects of interviews and focus groups:
        • Preparation
        • Conduct
        • Recording
      Friday January 11th 2008 SOC2002: Sociological Analysis & Research Methods Lecture 9
    • 4. The qualitative interview
      • Definition:
        • “ essentially a technique for establishing or discovering that there are perspectives or viewpoints on events other than those of the person initiating the interview” (Farr, 1982. In Gaskell, 2001)
      • Incorporates certain assumptions:
        • “ social world is actively constructed by people in their everyday lives” (Gaskell, 2001: 38)
      • Aims:
        • “ to map and understand the respondents’ life world” (Gaskell, 2001: 39) in relation to:
          • theoretical structures
          • other observations
      Friday January 11th 2008 SOC2002: Sociological Analysis & Research Methods Lecture 9
    • 5. Types of qualitative interview (1)
      • Highly structured
        • survey interview
      • Semi-structured
        • individual
        • group
      • Unstructured
        • ethnographic interview
      Friday January 11th 2008 SOC2002: Sociological Analysis & Research Methods Lecture 9 access to local (tacit) knowledge Structure
    • 6. Types of qualitative interview (2)
      • Semi-structured interview
        • individual
          • traditional in-depth
          • narrative
          • episodic
        • group
          • conventional focus group
          • Nominal groups technique
      Friday January 11th 2008 SOC2002: Sociological Analysis & Research Methods Lecture 9
    • 7. How many interviews/focus groups?
      • How long is a piece of string?
        • Depends on the project
        • Qualitative, so statistical power is no guide to numbers
      • Rules of thumb:
        • 2 interviews/FG’s for each group of interest
        • Total, per researcher
          • 15-25 individual interviews
          • 6-8 focus groups
      Friday January 11th 2008 SOC2002: Sociological Analysis & Research Methods Lecture 9
    • 8. Individual interviews v. focus groups Friday January 11th 2008 SOC2002: Sociological Analysis & Research Methods Lecture 9 Gaskell (2001: 48)
    • 9. Preparation
      • Where and when?
        • Do you have an appropriate location?
        • Is this the most convenient time for the participant/s?
      • Do you have the necessary equipment?
        • Voice recorder, ethical documents, stimuli
      • What are you going to ask?
        • The topic guide
      Friday January 11th 2008 SOC2002: Sociological Analysis & Research Methods Lecture 9
    • 10. The topic guide
      • A set of paragraph headings:
        • Prompt for the interviewer
        • an agenda
        • way of monitoring progress
      • NOT a rigid structure or a set of closed questions
        • Creates “an easy comfortable framework for for a discussion” (Gaskell, 2001: 40)
        • Provides “a logical and plausible progression through the issues in focus” ( Ibid .)
      Friday January 11th 2008 SOC2002: Sociological Analysis & Research Methods Lecture 9
    • 11. The topic guide
      • Based upon:
        • critical reading of the literature
        • field reconnaissance
        • talks with experienced colleagues
      • Capture the aims and objectives of the research:
        • Take these as your starting point in constructing your topic guide
          • “ Just what is it about this thing that is puzzling me?” (Bryman, 2001: 317)
          • “ What do I need to know in order to answer each of the research questions I am interested in?” ( Ibid .)
      • An example:
        • Corden and Sainsbury (2006)
      Friday January 11th 2008 SOC2002: Sociological Analysis & Research Methods Lecture 9
    • 12. Interviewer conduct
      • In general
        • Don’t take anything for granted
        • Probe assiduously
        • Take the long view
          • Consider a set of interviews
      • First steps:
        • Introduce yourself and the project fully
        • Obtain consent
          • If you do not get written consent, you cannot proceed with the interview!
        • Get participants to introduce themselves
      Friday January 11th 2008 SOC2002: Sociological Analysis & Research Methods Lecture 9
    • 13. Interviewer conduct: interviews
      • The interview is:
        • “ a conversation lasting normally for one to one and a half hours” (Gaskell, 2001: 51)
      • Interviewer is an interlocutor
        • Use your normal social skills in order to put the participant at ease
        • Thank them for agreeing to participate
        • Be open about recording
        • Be attentive
          • Body language: open posture, eye contact, non-verbal cues
        • Start with simple questions and move toward a conversation
      Friday January 11th 2008 SOC2002: Sociological Analysis & Research Methods Lecture 9
    • 14. Interviewer conduct: focus groups
      • The focus group is:
        • “ a debate open and accessible to all; the issues at stake are common concerns; inequalities of status...are disregarded; and the debate is based on rational discussion” (Gaskell, 2001: 49)
      • Interviewer is a moderator
        • Encourage all participants to talk and respond to others
        • Use probes to get other participants to contextualise and elaborate relevant/interesting topics
        • Introduce stimuli and/or tasks in order to move from moderator to group led discussion
          • Free-association tasks, picture/issue sorting, photo sorting, etc.
      Friday January 11th 2008 SOC2002: Sociological Analysis & Research Methods Lecture 9
    • 15. Recording
      • Tape recording
        • Check your equipment!
        • Be open about it
        • In focus groups: the names and positions of the participants
      • Use your initiative
        • Record any details of the situation, body language, etc. that are relevant to the conversation
      • Contextual records
        • An example from Flick (2001: 84)
      Friday January 11th 2008 SOC2002: Sociological Analysis & Research Methods Lecture 9
    • 16. Contextual records Friday January 11th 2008 SOC2002: Sociological Analysis & Research Methods Lecture 9
    • 17. Data Collection (4): Summary
      • What is the purpose of the qualitative interview and when is it best indicated?
      • Types of interview and focus group, and the comparison between the two
      • Practical aspects of interviews and focus groups:
        • Preparation
        • Conduct
        • Recording
      Friday January 11th 2008 SOC2002: Sociological Analysis & Research Methods Lecture 9
    • 18. Additional References:
      • Corden and Sainsbury (2006). “Using verbatim quotations in reporting qualitative social research: researchers’ views”, available at http://www.york.ac.uk/inst/spru/pubs/pdf/verbquotresearch.pdf
      • Narrative interviewing:
        • Jovchelovitch, S. and Bauer, M. “Narrative Interviewing”, in Bauer and Gaskell (2001)
      • Episodic interviewing:
        • Flick, U. “ Episodic Interviewing”, in Bauer and Gaskell (2001)
      • Nominal group technique (NGT):
        • Fuller, Gaskin and Scott (2003). “Student Perceptions of Geography and Environmental Science Fieldwork in the Light of Restricted Access to the Field, Caused by Foot and Mouth Disease in the UK in 2001”, Journal of Geography in Higher Education , 27, pp. 79-10.
        • Gaskin and Hall (2002). “Exploring London: a novel induction exercise for the new undergraduate”, Journal of Geography in Higher Education , Vol. 26, No. 2, pp. 197-208.
      Friday January 11th 2008 SOC2002: Sociological Analysis & Research Methods Lecture 9
    • 19. SOC2002 TO DO:
      • Final reading logs due next Friday (18th Jan 2008)
        • Converts to project logbook commences at the start of semester 2
      • Project progress:
        • Literature reviews
        • Ethical documents (consent forms, participant information sheets)
        • Design of instruments
        • Data collection
      Friday January 11th 2008 SOC2002: Sociological Analysis & Research Methods Lecture 9

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