Recordings of qualitative research interviews are one of the most common audio types that digital transcription service providers help researchers convert into text format. To obtain useful data and draw conclusions, here are ten tips to consider when conducting qualitative research interviews:
- Develop a Strong Research Question and make sure it is Clear: Your research question gives your work a clear focus and goal. A good research question will be specific, original, feasible to explore and answer within the specified timeframe, open to debate, and relevant to the area of study.
- Prepare Well: Careful planning is critical for success with research interviews. First, familiarize yourself with the data recording equipment and make sure it works well and the audio is good. Choose a comfortable setting that is free of noise and other disturbances, and will be conducive to data collection. Consider the respondents’ convenience when choosing the place and time. Make sure you obtain the interviewees’ informed consent.
- Make a Check List of the Questions you Wish to Ask: This is important to ensure that you discuss all the pertinent topics and don’t digress from the main one. Also, preparing a list of the key topics will help ensure that you don’t forget anything. Make sure your questions are clear, relevant and easy to understand, and will answer your research question. Use technical language or jargon only if your interviewee will understand it. An article published by www.tandfonline.com recommends conducting test interviews with peers or volunteers. This will give you the opportunity to “explore language, the clarity of the questions, and aspects of active listening”, notes the article.
- Clearly Identify and Explain the Purpose of the Interview: Make sure the interviewee is fully aware of the purpose of the research.
- Build Rapport First: Before asking the real research questions, which can be personal or controversial, ask neutral questions to put the interviewee at ease. Build rapport and trust with the respondent before you go on to the difficult questions.
- Appear Professional: Acting in a professional manner during the interview will help you get more information. Focus on what the interviewee says – this will encourage them to give honest, direct answers.
- Listen Actively, Talk Less: Focus on what the interviewee is saying and talk less. Don’t let yourself be distracted by phone calls or thoughts about other matters, as this can affect how the questions are answered. Actively listen to the respondent by giving them your undivided attention and acknowledging what they are saying. Being attentive will also help you understand whether your questions are being interpreted in the way you intend. Active listening also means respecting silence and recognizing gaps in the conversation as an opportunity for deeper reflection. So, listen actively and be candid and open.
- Be Careful not to Introduce bias into the Interview: The attitude of the interviewers when asking the survey questions can affect respondents’ answers. For instance, showing sympathy for the problems faced by respondent can affect the answers, and thereby, the results. Bias can also creep into the replies if the interviewer changes the wording of a question to simplify it as altered wording may mean a different question. Finally, to avoid bias, the interviewer must be careful not to react openly to the respondent’s answers. Objectivity must be maintained throughout the process. Any response to an answer must only be a polite interest.
- Record the Interviews: When conducting interviews, it is important that they are recorded. Taking notes is not easy and not recommended unless the respondent has any objections to being recorded. Making an audio recording will allow you to focus on the interview.
- Transcribe the Audio Recordings: The recordings of research interviews must be transcribed promptly. Verbatim transcription or word-for-word reproduction of the verbal data is the most common method used to transcribe qualitative interviews. Verbatim transcription captures everything on the audio file exactly as is, including the non-verbal utterance, pauses and even silence. As the process is time consuming and challenging, especially when there are vast amounts of recorded information, most researchers rely on audio transcription service providers to convert their qualitative interview recordings converted into text format. Accurate transcripts are crucial for effective data analysis. Transcribing interviews as soon as possible after completion will help researchers identify analytical structures and find similarities and differences between different interviewees’ experiences (www.tandfonline.com).
Today, with the challenges posed by COVID-19, many academicians are conducting qualitative research interviews remotely and are relying on experienced online transcription service agencies to document them.