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Compare and contrast the use of interviewing in quantitative and qualitative research. Use case studies and examples from published work to illustrate the strengths and limitations of different types of interviewing.

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Introduction

Compare and contrast the use of interviewing in quantitative and qualitative research. Use case studies and examples from published work to illustrate the strengths and limitations of different types of interviewing. In order to conduct investigations today, researchers use a variety of techniques, these falls into two categories: Qualitative and Quantitative methodology. Quantitative research involves the collection and presentation of numerical data that can be codified and subjected to detailed statistical testing. It follows the scientific methods in so far as it attempts to discover and measure facts about society and social behaviour. (I Marsh, 1996, p109) Methods of research include gathering social data through social surveys, questionnaires and structured interviews. These techniques usually involve studying large numbers of subject so that the results can be used as a starting point for presenting general conclusions about social behaviour. Quantitative methods are most likely to be used by those who favour a 'macrosociology' point of view and qualitative methods by ones that favour 'microsociology'. Many of the early social theorists adopted the 'macrosociology' approach. Karl Marx set out to describe and explain the origins and development of modern industrial capitalist society. He examined different types of societies, tribal, feudal, capitalist and communist and explored how one type of system evolved from another. Marx based his analysis of society on evidence from second hand, general and historical sources rather than on original, first hand research. ...read more.

Middle

This version also has its disadvantages, namely in terms of the amount of time needed to collect and analyse the responses (Wimmer and Dominick 1997:139). Due to the varied nature of the responses, it is necessary to use the content analysis technique to analyse it. This is what takes the time. Open questions used in this unstructured interview approach can cause confusion either because of the lack of understanding of the question by the informant or by the lack of understanding of the respondent's answer by the interviewer (Wimmer and Dominick 1997:140). Despite some of these disadvantages, open-ended questions are very important. Gray (1987) showed this when she studied women's relations to video technology. It was found that women wanted to tell their stories therefore needing open-ended questions to enable them to talk freely (Jensen and Jankowski 1991:155) Using these two structures, there are 2 basic types of interview used in everyday research. The first of these is known as one to one interviews, personal interviews or intensive interviews. This type of interview uses a small sample averaging 30 people (Nichols 1991:13). The interview usually last up to several hours. It focuses on the use of open-ended questions allowing the respondent to answer freely. Questions that follow are then entirely based on how the respondent's answer leads the interview. The questions are not therefore standardised (Wimmer and Dominick 1997:100). ...read more.

Conclusion

Validity and reliability of the interview data may be influenced by these (Breakwell, Hammond and Fife-Schaw 1995:238-239). "Interviewing is a complex and demanding technique" (Frey and Oishi 1995:02). Having looked at the available research evidence concerning the use of interviews, it is clear that there are varying types of interview as well as various styles an interview can take. It has also been made clear, that many research studies using the interview method also use another methodology as well to allow for more accurate results and greater understanding. Interviewing is a difficult method to employ properly, relying on the interviewer themselves to enable an objective interview to be undertaken. It is a technique employed extensively in television viewing and which appears very effective for this field. It can provide valuable data either for personal reference only or as a means of gathering information to pursue further research using a different method. "Interviewing provides an opportunity for combining practical, analytical and interpretative approaches to media" (Jensen and Jankowski 1991:223). In general, qualitative research generates rich, detailed and valid (process) data that contribute to in-depth understanding of the context. Quantitative research generates reliable population based and generable data and is well suited to establishing cause-and-effect relationships. The decision of whether to choose a quantitative or a qualitative design is a philosophical question. Which methods to choose will depend on the nature of the project, the type of information needed the context of the study and the availability of recourses (time, money, and human). ...read more.

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