Structured, semi structured, unstructured interviews compared

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  • Can all be time consuming, and therefore costly. Time also means the participant(s) may get bored, perhaps giving silly answers!
  • Supported by interpretivist sociologists as they all aim to understand why people act/think like they do.
  • Interviewer effect may occur, in all, which could seriously affect the results.
  • Small sample size keeps the cost down, but sacrifices the reliability of the data


  • Structured interviews give no room for following up interesting answers! This may result with lower levels of verstehen or validity, but may raise replicability since there is less room for differing opinions!
  • Interviewer has more control during a structured interview. This mearns there is (hopefully!) less chance of straying off topic.
  • Interviewer effects may be more pronounced during structured interviews, as they are more formal than the other types. The formality may also threaten the amount of talking the respondent does; perhaps they do not open up to the researcher!
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Overall comparison

All types are time consuming, but can be used to gather detailed qualitative data. This data may be reliable but have low levels of replicability, as no two people will have the same opinions. 
There is less threat of straying off topic during structured interviews, but the formal set up of structured interviews may reduce the data the researcher ends up with at the end.
All interviews can give data that can be difficult to categorise, so it may be a good idea to quote ad verbatim!


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