Researchers collect most of their data for qualitative research through interviews, especially face-to-face interviews. However, if the participants are scattered and located too far from the researchers and each other, face-to-face interviews will become time consuming and expensive. In such a situation, the most viable solution is to conduct an online interview in real-time. Skype is a free communication service that facilitates calling, seeing, messaging and sharing among people wherever they reside. This allows researchers to conduct both audio and video interviewing remotely while they can record the interviews and transcribe all remote interviews later.
Major Advantages of Using Skype
Despite cutting cost (due to free calls) and travel time, this communication tool provides a lot of other advantages such as:
- Easily Manageable – You can easily install this tool in your system. With a great user-friendly interface, it is easy to use without any training.
- Flexible – This medium breaks the limitations of geographical barriers and helps to establish communication at any time and any where.
- Availability – Physical availability of participants for field interviews may be uncertain often, mainly due to personal reasons. Skype provides the flexibility of calling the participant either at home or at the business using the same contact details. Thus, participants are in greater control of when they want to schedule the interviews in this case and the researchers won’t miss their interviews.
- Improved Data Collection – This software has an instant messaging function, which is quite useful for managing data collection problems and sharing information among participants.
Recording a Skype Interview
To transcribe audio or video interviews on Skype accurately, you must give full attention to their recording. Ease of audio-recording is a key benefit of Skype interviews, as researchers can easily record computer-to-computer and computer-to-telephone conversations. Researchers can either opt for computer-based recording software or use a digital recorder. Use advanced digital recorder with automatic and manual recording capabilities. There are recorders that record the interviewer and the interviewee on separate stereo tracks in case of one on one interview. Apart from selecting a good recorder, you should consider the following when recording a Skype interview.
- Make sure that you and your participant have broadband internet with higher bandwidth to avoid frequent call drops.
- Use your microphones and let your respondents use theirs. This will greatly improve the quality of the recording.
- Do a test recording with your family member, friend or colleague before starting the recording and ensure everything is set in the right manner.
- Get consent from your participants to record the call before recording.
You can use transcription software to transcribe the recordings. Professional transcriptionists can however, ensure transcripts with better quality and remarkable accuracy.