interview

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interview

a method of collecting social data at the INDIVIDUAL LEVEL. This face-to-face method ensures a higher RESPONSE RATE than POSTAL QUESTIONNAIRES, but can introduce INTERVIEWER BIAS by the effect different interviewers have on the quality VALIDITY and RELIABILITY of the data so collected.

Interviews may be structured, with the interviewer asking set questions and the respondents’ replies being immediately categorized. This format allows ease of analysis and less possibility of interviewer bias, but the data will not be as ‘rich’ as that elicited by an unstructured design (and may be subject to problems such as MEASUREMENT BY FIAT – see also CICOUREL). Unstructured interviews are desirable when the initial exploration of an area is being made, and hypotheses for further investigation being generated, or when the depth of the data required is more important than ease of analysis. See QUALITATIVE RESEARCH and QUANTITATIVE RESEARCH TECHNIQUES.