While doing qualitative research, students usually choose semi-structured interviews for data collection. Such interviews can enable them to have a wide range of questions connected to the literature and theory. It can help them to make space for both the researchers and participants as the researcher do not have to follow the questions strictly. If you are a PhD student, then you can easily manage semi-structured interviews for your qualitative study. These interviews will give you unpredicted information and insights as they do not limit the conversation to a few questions. This article will show you how to prepare semi-structured interviews for a PhD thesis.
Semi-structured interviews are useful methods for data collection, which depend on asking the questions in a predetermined thematic framework. Nonetheless, these questions are set in phrasing or in order. In a research, such interviews are usually qualitative in nature. These interviews are usually used as a tool to explore marketing, social sciences and many other academic fields. They are very common in the field of research, with multiple interviewers working under the same theoretical frameworks. However, all these interviews can investigate different types of questions for the research.
Guide To Prepare:
Set Objectives And Goals:
The first step in preparing for semi-structured interviews is to set the goals and objectives. To conceptualize the research questions, you can use the following questions for guidance:
- What are the things you want to achieve or learn from this interview?
- Why do you use this interview method instead of other methods of data collection for research?
- What topics or questions do you anticipate for the follow-up interview or questions?
After asking these questions, you should start designing the questions for the interview. You can get dissertation help from the best writers at this step.
Design Your Questions:
After setting goals, the next thing you need to do is to prepare for semi-structured interviews to design the questions. It is important that you stay concise and simple. You should phrase the question of the interview in a clear way. If your topic or subject is sensitive, you must remain mindful of the word choices in the questions. The most critical part of this interview for you is to know when to ask spontaneous or follow-up questions. You should consider the questions that can arise from the participants’ answers.
Assemble The Participants:
The next step in designing semi-structured interviews is to assemble the participants of your research. There are many methods you could use to get the participants for interview like:
- Voluntary response sampling: you will get volunteers by sending emails in a campus or using ads.
- Stratified sampling: in this, you choose people with particular characteristics or interests, such as gender identity, ethnicity, race, or age.
- Convenience sampling: you choose people that are around you, such as if choosing students from the university campus.
Decide The Medium:
To prepare for semi-structured interviews, it is important to determine the medium. You should determine the way you will conduct the interview. You must need to decide whether you will conduct the interview with pen or paper or using a recorder. If the person cannot meet you face-to-face, then you can either conduct the interview via phone or videoconferencing. It is vital to note that each method has its own benefits and drawbacks.
For instance, using pen and paper might be easy for you when you will organize and analyze the data. However, there is a possibility that you might get some prepared answers. On the other hand, you can get genuine answers with in-person interviews, but it could also lead to the interviewer’s effect or nervousness. You can also use videoconferencing or social media, but it can also create awkwardness. Thus, you need to choose your medium very carefully.
Instead Of A Q&A Session, Plan For The Proper Conversation:
In qualitative research, you need to collect detailed and quality data, regardless of your topic. It is because qualitative research is all about the depth of the information instead of breadth. You need to dig deep to do an in-depth qualitative analysis and to draw a meaningful conclusion. Therefore, you need to make space for making meaningful conversation while conducting semi-structured interviews instead of doing a Q&A session. You can ask your participants to tell you a story related to your research topic. However, in case of the absence of participants, you can get PhD dissertation help.
Conduct The Interviews:
Now is the time to conduct the semi-structured interviews you have been preparing for. While conducting the interview, it is best that you make sure you keep the environmental conditions constant to avoid all kind of bias. You must focus on your body language as well, such as raising eyebrows and nodding and moderating the tone of voice. The main challenge that you can face in these interviews is ensure that the interview questions are totally unbiased in nature. It could be challenging while using any unscripted or spontaneous questions while doing the interview.
Record And Take Notes:
Another thing you must ensure in semi-structured interviews is that you record all of your interviews. In this way, you can later make a transcription for the reporting and analysing the qualitative data. You should also take notes while conducting an interview but you should not give it complete as you need to make eye contact with the participants. Your body language is a huge factor in interviews to get the correct answers you need for your research. You can distract your participants or make them nervous with wrong body language. Thus, you need to develop strong strategies to make them conformable so that they can answer easily and make a proper conversation. This can help you a lot in findings and analysis.
From the above guide, you can easily design perfect semi-structured interviews for a PhD thesis. Make sure that you set reasonable goals before conducting the interviews. You should focus on making meaningful conversation instead of just doing a simple Q&A session. You also need to be prepared for the follow-up questions. The best way to get proper answers is to make the environment conformable for the participants.