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Assess the strengths and weaknesses of interviews, as a research method

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Introduction

Assess the strengths and weaknesses of interviews, as a research method Interviews are a face to face conversation (generally between two people), usually involving a set of questions. There are two extreme types of interviews; unstructured and structured. However, between the two, there is a third known as a semi-structured interview. Structured interviews involve the interviewer following a set of questions, without the addition of anything that isn't written down. The interviewer is given strict instructions and is told to complete each interview in the same order, word for word. The practical advantages for this type of interview are that it is quick and fairly cheap. This is because the interviewer is not allowed to ask any of their own questions and each interview should last about the same length of time. Also, training interviewers is straight-forward and inexpensive, as all they are required to do is follow a set of instructions. Additionally, the results are easily quantified because structured interviews use close-ended questions with coded answers. The practical disadvantages for structured interviews are that it may be time-consuming and may require a lot of money to employ dozens of interviewers and data-inputting staff. Structured interviews are preferred by Positivists, such as Marxists and Functionalists. ...read more.

Middle

Alternatively, the interviewee may not answer truthfully, if they are embarrassed about their response. This is an ethical disadvantage. Another ethical disadvantage is that the interviewee may respond in a way they believe they are meant to. This is called demand characteristics. Interviewers also should keep personal information concerning research participants confidential. Finally, the theoretical advantage for unstructured interviews is that they are highly flexible, which means they are not restricted to a set of questions, making them valid. However, a disadvantage is that unstructured interviews are not reliable as each interview is unique, meaning they are not standardised. This also leads to the answers being more complex, which makes it harder to analyse. Unstructured interviews are preferred by feminists and interpretivists as the response is mainly qualitative data. Feminists prefer analysing qualitative data, as it lets the interviewer understand the world of the interviewee and gives a deeper meaning to the response. Furthermore, a semi-structured interview uses part of both unstructured and structured interviews. For example, it is a flexible method, as it allows new questions to be brought up during the interview as a result of what the interviewee says/responds. This type of interview generally has a framework of themes to be explored. A semi-structured interview uses a combination of both closed and open-ended questions. ...read more.

Conclusion

For example, if interviewees have less power than the interviewer, they may see it as being in their own interests to lie or exaggerate when answering questions. They may also be less self-confident and their responses less articulate. This will all reduce the validity of the data. Furthermore, parental permission may also be required to interview the children and the amount of parents to allow their child to be interviewed, varies on the subjects being researched. In conclusion, comparing interviews to another research method, many sociologists prefer using this method of research, as it allows the researcher to understand the feelings about the subject being researched. It allows the interviewer to ask in-depth questions and gain a better understanding into the interviewee's life. Although, it may not be the quickest and cheapest way of collecting data, as questionnaires do not require employing dozens of interviewers. This is why some sociologists prefer using questionnaires to gain information, as the participant just has to complete a form of questions. On the other hand, many sociologists prefer using interviews as it allows them to make sure they collect all the data, as many participants may not complete and return a questionnaire, whether it is too long or too complicated. Therefore, asking questions face-to-face allows to you make sure you get a response to analyse. ?? ?? ?? ?? Ayshe Caluda ...read more.

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