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Key terms

  • Closed questions: questions that require a specific answer, e.g. yes/no.
  • Interviewer bias: the influence of the interviewer on the way the respondent replies e.g. race/gender/age.
  • Open questions: the question allows the respondent to answer fully. 
  • Probing: encouraging the interviewee to expand, e.g. asking, remaining silent. 
  • Prompts: possible answers to questions. 
  • Response rate: the number of people that agreed to be interviewed. 
  • Semi-structured interview: where the interviewer has a set of questions, but may explore things that emerge during the interview. 
  • Structured interview: where the questions are delivered in a set order and no explanation or elaboration of the question is allowed. 
  • Transcribing: writing up the interviews that have been recorded. 
  • Unstructured interview: where the interviewer is able to explain and elaborate on questions. 
  • Validity: the problem of whether the questions actually measure what the researcher intends them to. 

Strengths: structured interviews

  • Answers of different respondents may be easily compared. 
  • Answers can be simply recorded by ticking boxes as the interview progresses. 
  • Interviewers only need brief training. 
  • Interviews can be conducted quickly enough to target a large representative sample. 
  • They can be easily conducted in the street, targeting relevant groups. 
  • Though the questions are fixed, researchers are allowed to give limited assistance if the respondent doesn't understand them. 
  • The researcher tries to ensure the interview is out of earshot of others so the respondents replies are confidential. 

Strengths: unstructured interviews


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