Topic 3: Research & Interviewing

Topic 3: Research & Interviewing

“Overview … Readings and Lectures”
(Source URL)

Summaries

  • Topic 3: Research & Interviewing > Readings and Lectures > Introduction Video
  • Topic 3: Research & Interviewing > Readings and Lectures > Case Study Research Video
  • Topic 3: Research & Interviewing > Readings and Lectures > Researchers Talk About Background Research Video
  • Topic 3: Research & Interviewing > Readings and Lectures > Conducting Interview-Based Case Study Research Video
  • Topic 3: Research & Interviewing > Readings and Lectures > Planning and Preparation Video
  • Topic 3: Research & Interviewing > Readings and Lectures > In the Interview
  • Topic 3: Research & Interviewing > Readings and Lectures > Asking Questions Video
  • Topic 3: Research & Interviewing > Readings and Lectures > Interview Tips Video

Topic 3: Research & Interviewing > Readings and Lectures > Introduction Video

  • We’ll talk about how to conduct interviews, as well as address some common interview problems that may arise.
  • Finally, we’ll talk about how to start analyzing some of your interview data in preparation for writing.

Topic 3: Research & Interviewing > Readings and Lectures > Case Study Research Video

  • There are three video sets as part of this introduction to case study research.
  • First, I’ll speak about the launch memo the research design, case selection, and pre-trip background preparation.
  • This is a critical component of success in any kind of research endeavor, but particularly in case study research.
  • The launch, or research design, helps you define the aims of the case study.
  • Usually we try to do a series of case studies on a similar topic so we can compare and contrast a bit.
  • The purpose of the launch is to define the aims, to identify the what the development challenge is that we’re really interested in here, or if we’re interested in a particular intervention and how it behaves in differing circumstances, we want to lay that out here, too.
  • This is where the focus of the series becomes clear, and the focus of the individual case is clear as a result.
  • You can bullet point these alternatives, but you really want to draw these out of the review of the literature and out of a conversation with a group of experts.
  • We often think of writers as working alone, but definitely in case study research, you’re part of a team.
  • You might want to bring a country expert into the picture as well.
  • Case selection is the next step, and the degree of sophistication we bring to this task depends a little bit on the aims you have, and also on the kind of information already available about the subject matter.
  • Think hard about what the purpose of the case is.
  • Then you are doing an exploratory case study to try to understand the causal mechanisms that link an independent variable to an outcome.
  • In this instance it may not matter much where you try to site the case study, or where you choose to write about.
  • You’ll dig into that particular case to try to look at influences in order to back out some explanations that you can test in other circumstances.
  • Maybe your aim is to understand outliers, say there’s a statistical analysis of a problem, you know that there are some places that have succeeded against all odds, and you really want to understand why.
  • You identify the cases on the basis of where those outliers are.
  • That’s the easiest kind of case selection to do.
  • We often don’t have carefully matched settings or cases or interventions in the subject matter of the science of delivery.
  • We also may not have those big data sets that would allow us to choose cases very systematically.
  • Ideally, what you want here are some very carefully matched settings, and some very carefully matched interventions so that you’re not comparing apples and oranges.
  • At Innovations for Successful Societies, we try not to look at cases that are still in progress because it’s very hard to infer cause and effect in those settings.
  • It is possible that down the road, those results will change and we’ll have to go back in and do an epilogue or a second case, and we recognize that.
  • You’ll have to consider the right moment to conduct the case study.
  • We usually lack comprehensive databases to facilitate case selection in a lot of the science of delivery subject matter.
  • There, we have quite a bit of data on which to choose case studies, depending on what our interest is in those topics.
  • We’ll call consultants, experts, people who have some experience, who might know where an experiment has been tried.
  • You may have to go down the road a way, dig into a case to figure out whether it’s going to be feasible.
  • An interviewee will respect you much more if you already know a lot about that case.
  • So you really want to get to know your subject well.
  • Now the key elements in the pre-trip briefing-and we do a formal, written briefing-are these First, you want to identify that development challenge, the big problem that motivates the case, and the precipitating event that seem to lead to an intervention, to a decision to do something about this development challenge.
  • You want to know as much as possible about what took place.
  • Finally, you want to collect country and location background, bios of people you think you’re going to interview, if that’s possible.
  • Why? Well, again, people respect those who know a lot before they walk into an interview.
  • You need to know that before you walk into the interviews.
  • Now, often foundations or NGOs or, even academics have published studies that are related to your subject matter to, related to the specific case.
  • We’re actually working on a couple of series here where we don’t know anything up front.
  • Not with the people who are the key players in your case study, because you don’t want to use up all of your time with them on this background stuff.
  • You want to go find out who are the people who had a special vantage point.
  • You’ve have to find out who those people are, do long interviews with them, to try to distill what they know and create the pre-trip briefing out of that.

Topic 3: Research & Interviewing > Readings and Lectures > Researchers Talk About Background Research Video

  • It also really highlights the possible parts of the story that we don’t know yet and the things that we really need to focus on when we are in country, conducting interviews.
  • Conducting background research for the pre-trip is sometimes really, really difficult.
  • Organize your thoughts in a way that will help you then, organize your interviews.
  • >> With interviews, scheduling them can, depending on the context be very difficult.
  • That’s the best thing if, you know an office will respond to a formal written email and you know if someone will set up the interview for you that way.
  • My guess is that in almost any context you’re working in, maybe a quarter or less of your interviews can be set up that way.
  • We try to get a certain number of, of interviews set up before we go.
  • That’s the most important thing when you’re setting up interviews.
  • Sometimes it really just takes calling people on the phone a lot.
  • You know, sending a lot of emails, being very, very persistent.
  • >> This is really simple, but it’s also important: You have to know the background information of the country, you have to know relevant history.
  • You have to know even things like geography can come up and be, be important, depending on the different aspects of your story.
  • The post trip really lets you collect your thoughts again after doing so many interviews.
  • You’ve got to repeat it back to your editors, to the director and, and make sure that the story as it is in your head makes sense to other people- because as a writer, that’s an important step to go through.

Topic 3: Research & Interviewing > Readings and Lectures > Conducting Interview-Based Case Study Research Video

  • Field research means interviews, primarily interviews with the people involved in implementing a project or policy.
  • Preparation involves not just background research on the country context, but also selecting participants carefully, thinking about the format of the interview, and developing interview scripts.
  • Now there’s a spectrum of interview types from structured interviews, which are basically tickbox surveys, to unstructured interviews, which are conversations.
  • Semi-structured interviews fall somewhere in the middle.
  • Semi-structured interviews are basically guided conversations, and these types of interviews work best for ISS, or science of delivery case study research, where the goal is to get detailed factual information.
  • Semi-structured interviews, as I said before, are guided conversations.
  • Questions are determined by the researcher, usually in the form of an interview script.
  • Interview scripts are crucial for making sure that you get the information needed from interviewees.
  • In general, interview scripts have three parts, an introduction, a list of questions and a concluding statement.
  • The conclusion usually involves a thank you, and it’s used to formally wrap up the interview.
  • You want to make sure that the interviewee’s still comfortable with the terms of the interview and knows who to contact if they have questions or worries.
  • When using the script in the interview, it’s helpful to develop a new script for each and every person that you speak to.
  • As you adapt the interview scripts, you can add in questions to probe, or even add in new topics which originally weren’t included, but emerged in speaking with people.
  • The interview questions should be fairly open-ended.
  • It’s easier to focus on the what, when, and how type questions, and perhaps circle around back to the why questions towards the end of an interview.
  • You can conclude a interview by asking about whether or not the interviewee has anything else to add, and if they can suggest another person that you might be able to talk to.
  • When conducting the interview there are a number of things to think about.
  • Field research, the details of steering the interview, and then some common problems that may arise.
  • Think carefully about how you’re gonna schedule the interviews for a case study research project.
  • ISS researchers typically conduct about two interviews per day when they’re doing fieldwork.
  • Trying to do more cases will require more time, clearly, and trying to do more than three interviews per day is very taxing on both interviewers and on translators.
  • As you’re scheduling each interview, also pay attention to trouble times.
  • If you’re interviewing three people in three different cities, think about the travel times needed to travel from one city to another.
  • Even within cities, sometimes traffic jams, other logistical difficulties may come into play, and several hours are needed between interviews.
  • Keep track of all these details when you’re scheduling interviews so you can be sure that you arrive for the interview on time, and at the appropriate location.
  • It’s helpful to arrive early, so that you can prepare so that you can understand the context in which you’ll be conducting the interview, and so that you can also meet some of the people in the office of the person that you’re interviewing.
  • It’s very hard to be in an interview situation and not always know what you’re going be able to say, or have technical problems with the recorder.
  • Make sure you understand how the introduction is going to flow into the questions, and how that you conclude the interview before hand.
  • The better the rapport, or relationship, that you have with your interviewee, the smoother the flow of the interview, and the more comfortable they will be with answering any questions that you have.
  • Most ISS interviews last from about 60 to 90 minutes.
  • There’s some common problems that come up in interview situations that you should be familiar with.
  • In some cases, if you see that time is running out in the time allotted for the interview, be sure to tell the interviewee that you have a few more important questions to ask.
  • If that’s not possible, you can also try rescheduling the interview for another time when they may be more available to meet with you alone.
  • When all the field interviews are concluded, you’re bound to end up with massive amounts of interview data that as a case researcher you have to analyze and synthesize into a case study.
  • To help you do that, and to help you prepare writing, it’s important to take some steps while you’re interviewing and still in the field, that will help you analyze the data.
  • First of all, always think about the writing as you’re interviewing.
  • Think about particular quotes or stories that come up in your interviews and how you might use them in your introduction or in the conclusion of the case study to engage the reader.
  • You want to review your notes daily and as you’re going through interview notes tag responses that you might use in different sections of the template.
  • So as you go back and read through your interview notes, think about how different respondents are answering the same questions.
  • Use all of the interview data which you have now tagged and marked up in order to develop a more detailed outline that fits the case study template.

Topic 3: Research & Interviewing > Readings and Lectures > Planning and Preparation Video

  • With interviews scheduling them can, depending on the context.
  • You know, someone will set up the interview for you that way.
  • My guess is in almost any context you’re working in, maybe a quarter or less of your interviews can be set up that way.
  • So we try to get a certain number of interviews set up before we go.
  • That’s the most important thing when you’re setting up interviews.
  • >> Well, it’s really important to get people on board, but not to be too pushy cause I think that puts people off and puts them on the defensive before you’ve even started interviewing.
  • So really I try to reach out and explain why it is that’s it’s so important for the case study and for the research that they talk to me and also why I think the research we’re doing is really helpful.
  • I find it really important to, to think really carefully about what it is the questions, what it is that the questions you wanna ask are before you go into the interview.
  • I personally actually tried to structure my interviews sort of along the structure of the template because I find that to be really helpful to help people kind of organize their thoughts and keep them chronological as, as they move through the reform.
  • If the person’s really being thoughtful about their answers you’re only really going to get to six to eight main questions, with a few follow-ups in there.
  • That’s usually where I stop another step that you could into is how, how much material can I organize and process in one day? And is it better to try to pus these interviews around? >> It can be tricky to set up the interview in a place where you can get the audio quality you need, and you can make sure the interview’s private.
  • I usually stress the fact that we’re, we’re recording the interviews and that noise contamination is a problem.
  • Sometimes I’ve agreed to interview someone in their home and sometimes I haven’t, depending on sorta how comfortable I feel, and I feel like they feel about the situation.
  • I think doing the, I think doing the interviews on tape can be off-putting for people, especially in certain countries where they’re not used to being recorded.
  • In other instances, I’ll say can we do the interview, I’ll record it, and if you’re not comfortable with what you’ve said with me keeping it, I will delete the recording in front of you.
  • I personally prefer to, to write down the questions I want to ask, and be taking notes on follow ups, rather than trying to scribble down everything that someone says in an interview.
  • Also the interviews take about twice as long for the translation, so it can be hard to get to the level of detail and get to all the questions.

Topic 3: Research & Interviewing > Readings and Lectures > In the Interview

  • When I walk into an interview, the first thing I do is introduce myself, shake the person’s hand, and give them my business card, which really establishes that I am legitimate.
  • I then talk to them about the format of the interview and outline that everything is totally voluntary.
  • Establishing a really relaxed atmosphere with an interviewee is important.
  • In order for the person to really open up about all the activities they’ve done and be really open about about everything to do with the reform.
  • You’ve got to break the ice at the start of an interview.
  • In a recent interview, in a particularly overpopulated capital city, I, I talked about my interviewee about how terrible the traffic was in his city, to start the interview [LAUGH].
  • >> It really helps, before the interview and during interview, to remind the source, okay, this is for people in your position around the world, doing the same work.
  • I think it’s useful to explain to people, before you start taping, the kinds of things you’re interested in-and explain to them that we’re not just interested in what they’ve done, but in all of the really detailed steps that they took.
  • Because if you can prime people with that, then when you start asking follow-ups like “Well, how did you do that?” “What was your sample size for this?” Then, it comes back to them.
  • They say I need to be really detailed for this person.
  • When someone comes out of an interview and says, wow, I can’t believe you really wanted to know about this.
  • Then you’ve really gotten to a good level of detail.
  • >> There are many things that can be tricky about interviewing.
  • For me, I think the hardest part is trying to balance the need to get through all of the questions you prepared in advance and ask really thoughtful and helpful follow-up questions.
  • It can be hard in the moment to be aware of how much time you have and how many things you really have to hit- and at the same time make sure that you are really understanding what it is people are telling you and that you’re getting all the necessary details.
  • I find laughing at jokes-all sorts of jokes-gets me pretty far in an interview.

Topic 3: Research & Interviewing > Readings and Lectures > Asking Questions Video

  • When you’re talking about a reform that happened a long time ago, some people have trouble remembering what was going on at the time, and placing the specifics, dates, or times that are key elements of the reform happened.
  • Taking them back to that time and thinking about what was the order of events of, of how things took place, which is really important for how we write our cases.
  • We need to really dig down in the details and give us the information that we really need at the, for the level of expertise we’re looking for in our readers.
  • One of the things that’s really helpful is to just explain to them- before the tape recorder goes on and the interview even starts- who the readers are and the kind of information that these readers need.
  • I find it really helpful to say, “We’re writing for people positions similar to yours in other places,”so it would be really helpful if you could speak to the level of detail.
  • >> What is the material you need to get, from this person? What does this person know that will be most helpful for what you’re doing? I think the most important thing is to say that we really value operational detail.
  • How, why, you know, what were you thinking? “Why did you decide to do this at that time?” Remember it’s someone who was actually there, in the room at the time and it’s a really important moment for your case.
  • You might have to really work with them to extract these details, because maybe they hadn’t really thought about this moment or the meeting you are talking about for four or five years.
  • So you really have to be patient and helpful and just sort of put them back in the time- put their mind back in the room when this decision took place.
  • Sometimes if you’re getting into the story and you have a lot of questions maybe you’ll, you’ll have a tendency to ask sort of rambling questions or questions meant to lead someone to a certain place, but I think it’s really important to ask as concise, clear questions, as much as possible.
  • You only have so much time to talk to this person, and you really can’t waste it.
  • Then really work with your interviewee to make sure you get all the information that you need.

Topic 3: Research & Interviewing > Readings and Lectures > Interview Tips Video

  • There is definitely a certain skill to asking good follow-up questions.
  • Whenever I hear an answer, I’m always thinking, is there another layer? Is there something more I can ask to get more information from this person? Someone might say, we made this decision to do x. Well, who made that decision? Was it one person? Was it more than one person? Who else was at the table when they were making that decision? And why were they making that decision? What things before that had happened that they were all at this table together.
  • Was there one person who had more involvement than others, or more power than others? Were there other people that came to the table with really good ideas that sort of threw things off course? And what other options were they considering? Every time somebody says a statement to me, I’m always thinking, is there another layer, another deeper layer that I can get at here, that will tell more of the story.
  • >> It can be really hard in the moment to know what follow up questions you should be asking.
  • I think the best way to really get used to it and be able to ask better follow up questions is to really go back to the recordings of interviews you’ve done in the past and think about which questions you would ask if you could go back and do them again.
  • That’s really where I’ve learned the most.
  • When someone’s telling you a story, you ask “How?” you ask “Why?” you ask you ask “When?” For instance, when I was in Kosovo I was talking to people about.
  • Then you want to go back and say, “Okay, you hired five people.”How did you do that?” “what attributes were you looking for?” You know, “what sort of skills were you looking for in recruits>” “How did you reach them?” You know, how did you, how did you find this group of people? “How did you evaluate them when you brought them in for interviews?” “How did you decide which were the best for the job?” And “how did you train them?” “What were the training materials?” “What did you pay them?” These are very important things that you really wanna get.
  • You want to make sure that you ask those kinds of follow up questions when you have the opportunity.
  • I really needed as much information from him as possible.
  • Telling the details that I already knew, when I really needed to get at some specifics.
  • I think a good way to overcome this would have been to really.
  • I know this, and this, and this, and from you I really want is to get to some specific details on these aspects.
  • >> It can be difficult to keep people on track sometimes, or they’ll get off topic without even realizing that that’s not really what you want to be talking about.
  • In certain places I’ve found that there are people want to tell you certain stories and you can’t really get back to what it is that you want to be talking about until you let them tell that story.
  • So it’s really a matter of reading your interviewee.
  • Sometimes we have interviewees who have a grand narrative that they want to tell and aren’t as interested in answering the questions that we ask.
  • Sometimes by asking more specific questions that don’t allow them to.
  • You know, “what could we have done differently?” “What lessons did you learn down the line that could have been applied at the beginning to make things easier?” I think that’s a really effective question to ask and it helps give the interviewee some space near the end of an interview to say things that maybe they they missed.

Return to Summaries List.

(image source)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *