Unstructured and Semi-Structured Interviewing

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  Unstructured and Semi-Structured Interviewing
Interviewing is the most widely used method of data collection
in anthropology.
There is a continuum of differing amounts of control exerted in
the different kinds of interviews.

 Informal interviewing - lack of structure. "Just conversation" but
  not easy! You must tax your memory and write up everything
  ASAP before it fades. Good for establishing rapport.

 Unstructured interviewing - based on a plan, but a with a minimum
  of control. Good for getting people to "open up," and for when you
  have plenty of time.

 Semi-structured interviewing - here make use of an interview guide,
  a written list of questions and topics to be covered; it is efficient and
  allows for freedom and control at the same time.

 Structured interviewing - when informants are asked to respond to
  the same set of questions or stimuli (next unit). Most of you will be
  doing structured face-to-face interviews with the people in your
  sample. Asking the same questions allows you to talk about
  frequencies and percentages--especially important if you have a
  probability sample.

Starting up unstructured interviews:
           Assure anonymity and confidentiality.
           Explain that you want to know what THEY think.
           Encourage them to interrupt.
           Don't try to hide your intentions.
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Let the informant lead after you have defined the focus;
and let him/her "take off" with supplying information.
Probing is a necessary and effective skill:
Silent probe - give informant time.
Echo probe - repeat last sentence, and lead further.
Uh-huh probe - use affirmative comments.
Long question probe - asking for more detail or
 description.
Be careful about leading questions - being directive or
 putting words in the informants mouth: "I assume
 your husband always discusses these thing with you,
 right?"
Baiting probe- acting like you already know something
 to get people to open up.

INTERVIEW TIPS:
 Set up practice interviews (not with friends) to iron out rough spots
  and ambiguous questions.
 A big problem with semi-structured and structured face-to-face
  interviews: boredom and fatigue. Spread out the process over
  time; take notes about the interview during the interview; describe
  the setting (if different each time) and the reactions of the
  informant.
 Language skills are important.
 Introduction: be cordial and non-judgmental; tell about the
  purpose, anonymity, expected approx. length of the interview; be
  appropriately dressed.
 Use a tape recorder if permission is given, but take notes at the
  same time.
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RESPONSE EFFECTS - measurable differences in
interview data that are predictable from characteristics
of respondents, interviewers, and environments, e.g.
middle-class interviewers get more conservative answers.
Deference effect - race, ethnicity, gender are significant
 variables.
Threatening questions - may reduce accuracy or
 willingness to respond.
Expectancy effect - creating through our subtle
 behavior the objective results we want to see.

Be aware that people are often inaccurate reporters of
their own behavior.
    You can try a cued recall (referring to records); or
      aided recall (giving a list of possible answers); or
      share a personal landmark. Keep response time
      restricted.
USE OF FOCUS GROUPS:
    Group interviews of about 6-12 respondents with a moderator.
    Can complement a survey or sample of structured interviews,
     for example.
    Not statistically valid, but can supply rich ethnographic data.
    Requires a qualitative analysis and/or content analysis
     (subjects to taken up later).
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posted:10/2/2011
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