Interviewing as Qualitative Research: A Guide for Researchers in Education and the Social Sciences

Interviewing as Qualitative Research: A Guide for Researchers in Education and the Social Sciences

Irving Seidman


Canadian rights
Pages/Illust: 208
Publication date: May 2019
Binding: Paper
Fifth Edition
ISBN 9780807761489
Our price: $43.95

This popular text, now in its fifth edition, provides step-by-step guidance for new and experienced researchers who want to use interviewing as a research method. This user-friendly guide explains the rationale for interviewing and the complexity of selecting interview participants, important interviewing techniques, and how to work with the results of interviews. Appropriate for individual and classroom use, this expanded edition includes: a revised assessment of the utility of Computer-Assisted Qualitative Data Analysis systems; contributions by Julie Simpson, the Director of Research Integrity Services at the University of New Hampshire, about preparing research for local Institutional Review Boards; and guidance for obtaining informed consent when using technology to interview, when interviewing abroad, and when hoping to include children as participants.

Book Features:

  • Principles and methods that can be adapted to a range of interviewing approaches.
  • A clear and inviting presentation appropriate for both individual use and for classes.
  • Ideas to help readers analyze and improve their own approach, as well as suggestions for group practice.
  • An interviewing technique that stresses listening, with guidance for avoiding leading questions.
  • Examples of doctorial students’ research demonstrating that interviewing can deal with life and death issues, as well as everyday life.
  • Updated references to help readers deepen their understanding of interviewing as qualitative research.


Preface vii

Acknowledgments xi
Introduction: How I Came to Interviewing 1

1. Why Interview? 7
The Purpose of Interviewing 9
Interviewing: “The” Method or “A” Method? 9
Why Not Interview? 11
Conclusion 13

2. A Structure for In-Depth, Phenomenological Interviewing 14
What Makes Interviewing Phenomenological and Why Does It Matter? 16
Phenomenological Theme One: The Temporal and Transitory Nature of Human Experience 16
Phenomenological Theme Two: Whose Understanding Is It? Subjective Understanding 17
Phenomenological Theme Three: Lived Experience as the Foundation of “Phenomena” 18
Phenomenological Theme Four: The Emphasis on Meaning and Meaning in Context 19
How Do These Phenomenological Themes Matter? 20
The Three-Interview Series 21
Respect the Structure 24
Alternatives to the Structure and Process 25
Length of Interviews 26
Spacing of Interviews 27
Whose Meaning Is It? Validity and Reliability 27
Experience the Process Yourself 32

3. Proposing Research: From Mind to Paper to Action 33
Research Proposals as Rites of Passage 33
Commitment 34
From Thought to Language 35
What Is to Be Done? 35
Questions to Structure the Proposal 36
Rationale 40
Working with the Material 41
Piloting Your Work 43
Conclusion 43

4. Establishing Access to, Making Contact with, and Selecting Participants 45
The Perils of Easy Access 45
Access Through Formal Gatekeepers 48
Informal Gatekeepers 49
Accessing Children 50
Access and Hierarchy 52
Making Contact 52
Make a Contact Visit in Person 53
Building the Participant Pool 54
Some Logistical Considerations 55
Selecting Participants 56
Snares to Avoid in the Selection Process 59
How Many Participants Are Enough? 60

5. The Path to Institutional Review Boards and Informed Consent  62
The Belmont Report 62
The Establishment of Local Institutional Review Boards 63
The Informed Consent Document 65
Seven Key Sections of an Informed Consent Document 66
1. What, How Long, How, to What End, and for Whom? 67
2. Risks, Discomforts, and Vulnerability 68
3. The Rights of the Participant 68
4. Possible Benefits 73
5. Confidentiality of Records 73
6. Dissemination 76
7. Contact Information and Copies of the Document 77

Special Conditions for Children  78
Informed Consent When Using Technology to Interview 79
Informed Consent When Interviewing Abroad 80
The Complexities of Affirming the IRB Review Process and Informed Consent 82

6. Technique Isn’t Everything, But It Is a Lot 85
Listen More, Talk Less 85
Follow Up on What the Participant Says 88
Listen More, Talk Less, and Ask Real Questions 91
Follow Up, but Don’t Interrupt 92
Two Favorite Approaches 93
Ask Participants to Reconstruct, Not to Remember 94
Keep Participants Focused and Ask for Concrete Details 95
Do Not Take the Ebbs and Flows of Interviewing Too Personally 95
Limit Your Own Interaction 96
Explore Laughter 96
Follow Your Hunches 97
Use an Interview Guide Cautiously 98
Tolerate Silence 99
Conclusion 100

7.  Interviewing as a Relationship 101
Interviewing as an “I–Thou” Relationship 101
Rapport 102
Social Group Identities and the Interviewing Relationship 104
Distinguish Among Private, Personal, and Public Experiences 113
Avoid a Therapeutic Relationship 114
Reciprocity 116
Equity 116
Interviewing Online or by Telephone, and the Relationship Between Participant and Interviewer 118

8. Analyzing, Interpreting, and Sharing Interview Material 121
Managing the Data 121
Keeping Interviewing and Analysis Separate: What to Do Between Interviews 122
Recording Interviews 123
Transcribing Interviews 124
Studying, Reducing, and Analyzing the Text 125
Sharing Interview Data: Profiles and Themes 127
Making and Analyzing Thematic Connections 133
Interpreting the Material 136
Computer Assisted Qualitative Data Analysis (CAQDAS) 138
Cautions Regarding CAQDAS 140

9. The Ethics of Doing Good Work 147
Doing Good Work 147
The Reciprocity Implicit in Treating Participants with Dignity 150
Conclusion 151

Appendix: Two Profiles 153
Nanda: A Cambodian Survivor of the Pol Pot Era 153
Betty: A Long-Time Day Care Provider 160

References 164

Index 182

About the Author 196