Qualitative Interviewing: Field-Work Realities

Svajonė Mikėnė, Inga Gaižauskaitė, Natalija Valavičienė

Abstract


The article presents field-work experiences and reflections of the group of researchers who conducted qualitative (in-depth) interviews in the research project “Trajectories of family model and the social networks: intergenerational perspective” (code No. VP1-3.1-ŠMM-07-K-01-106). Qualitative research aims to identify the perspectives of research participants, their interpretations and meanings attached to life events, experiences or objects. Qualitative interviews applied in the research project provided rich qualitative data. Also, researchers collected data on the practical aspects of qualitative research that are not widely described in the studies dedicated to qualitative research methodology. Conducting qualitative interviews is a challenging research activity. In order to receive sound qualitative data, researchers have to be prepared, experienced and trained. Therefore, the main motive behind this article is to review and share qualitative interview field-work realities, revealing many aspects that might not come into consideration previous to conducting research, though they can have an impact on the quality of the data collected. The applied method in the article is systematization, description and analysis of the records (notes and reflections) from researchers’ field-work diaries. The article covers the following issues: the process of contacting research participants works; the main challenges of social and physical interview environment, and the main challenges for the researcher during the interview.
The authors conclude that qualitative field-work can often be unexpected and challenging. Common terms and generalised examples in research methodology literature do not always reflect the realities of field-work. Qualitative field-work requires flexibility and ability to efficiently react to on-going situations of a different nature. Summarising their experiences, researchers provide insight and recommendations that can be helpful for other researchers to better understand the field-work element of qualitative research process as well as build upon the advancement of qualitative research activities.

Keywords


qualitative research methods; qualitative interviewing; field-work

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"Social Work" ISSN online 2029-2775 / ISSN print 1648-4789