Firstly, what is qualitative research?
Qualitative research involves collecting and analysing data in order to gather in-depth insights into a subject, i.e. for an academic study, a market research project or a policy consultation, in order to understand concepts, opinions or experiences.
Qualitative research is used to understand people’s beliefs, attitudes, behaviour and interactions. Data is gathered in various forms but inherently involves talking to people, be that online via video or audio, on the telephone or face to face. It can be used to gather in-depth insights into a problem or generate new ideas for research
Qualitative research invites people to tell their stories in their own words, without being pigeonholed into prescribed answer sets with closed questions.
When conducting a qualitative research project, methods of collecting data need to be decided and the most commonly utilised are focus groups and interviews.
What is a qualitative interview?
A qualitative interview is a much more personal form of research when compared to questionnaires or written surveys, for example. A conversation based enquiry where questions are asked to obtain information from participants, the interviewer can read body language and probe as necessary in order to gain insight and meet the researcher’s objectives.
Qualitative research interviews elicit detailed feedback, have an unstructured format, ask open ended questions and can reveal why people react in a certain way or make certain decisions.
Why should researchers use a qualitative interview process?
Engaging in qualitative research can bring a variety of benefits, it can help academic researchers understand their subject in detail, providing evidence to back up a particular theory and give credibility to any material they publish.
Qualitative interviews can help the statutory sector to understand the behaviour of stakeholders in a given field, understand the public’s opinion and feelings about a policy area, for example, and can ultimately end up influencing policymakers’ decisions.
Qualitative interviews in healthcare can deepen understanding of phenomena such as health, illness and health care encounters, helping public health bodies to make decisions about future health promotion campaigns.
Qualitative interviews help companies and brands to identify customer experience, beliefs and opinions, aiding them to extend or terminate a line or brand, for example, clarify overall marketing messages, generate ideas for improvement and gain a new perspective on how a particular product fits into the consumer’s lifestyle.
How are qualitative research interviews formatted?
Qualitative research interviews may take place one-on-one or in focus groups. Interviews span between 30 to 90 minutes. The interview can take place in person, over the phone or through online video chat, such as Zoom or Teams meetings.
How transcribing a qualitative interview aids analysis of data
A written transcription of your interview allows you to quote the interviewee exactly, having an interview transcribed speeds up the analysis process, a clearly presented transcript can be produced to provide a rich source for insights to be gleaned.
Conducting a qualitative interview requires active listening, you’re not only asking relevant questions, you’re paying attention to the details so that you can consider the next questions you want to ask. You don’t want to miss anything and so trying to capture everything yourself can be incredibly difficult.
Transcribing an interview can actually make it easier to balance, you won’t lose concentration or panic that you’re not capturing valuable data, you can fully engage in the discussion, giving you reassurance that everything that’s said will be returned in a well laid out transcript.
A qualitative research project relies on several interviews to understand themes. Having your interviews transcribed means being able to glean information from different sources as a whole, meaning trends, links and connections can jump off the page and grouping ideas becomes faster. This is a near impossible task if you are just listening to audio clips.
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