It can be face to face, telephone, or other technologically-aided means. There are three types: structured interviews (use of questionnaires based on predetermined and identical set of questions), semi-structured interviews (list of themes to be covered, the interview can omit or add to some questions or areas, depending on the situation and the flow of conversation), and unstructured (informal discussions where the interviewer wants to explore in-depth a particular topic, pre-deicided range of topics in the discussion.
Focus groups are used to gather data, usually in the forms of opinions, from a selected group of people on a particular and pre-determined topic. The researcher creates a relaxed atmosphere and records in some way what is being said.
The following are the roles a researcher can adopt:
- identity and purpose of researcher is not revealed.
- the researcher attempts to become a full covert member of the group.
- purpose of the research activity is not revealed
- researcher does not take part in the activities beings observed.
- The researcher's role is known to others in the group
- researchers participate in activities, but the engagement may be fairly superficial as the researchers role is to observe the real participants.
Participant as Observer
- the researcher's role is known to everyone in the group
- the researcher would engage fully in all the activities and experience them totally themselves.
Data Collection as a Participant Observer
This can be in the form of:
Primary Observations: the researcher notes what actually happened
Secondary Observations: interpretative statements by observers of what happened
Experiential Data: a record of the researcher's feelings/values and how these changed over time
Questionnaires facilitate the collection of data by asking all, or a sample of people, to respond to the same questions.
Five types of questionnaire approaches:
- Delivery and collection
You need to be clear before you design your questionnaire what is what you want to learn and what data you need to obtain.
Consider validity (the extent which the data accurately measures what they were intended to measure) and reliability (the extent to which the data collection method will yeild the consisted findings if replicated by others) when designing your questionnaire.
Questions can be open (space is left for the respondent to answer) or closed (a limited number of responses to question is provided).
The flow of the questions should be logical to the respondent.
Questionnaires should be courteously and carefully introduced to the respondents by including a cover letter.
Questionnaires should be piloted, if possible.
General Rules for Designing Questionnaires (source: Collins & Hussey, 2003)
- Explain the purpose of the questionnaire
- Keep your questions simple
- Do not use jargon or specialist language
- Phrase each question so that only one meaning is possible
- Avoid vague, descriptive words
- Avoid asking negative questions
- Only ask one question at a time
- Include relevant questions only
- Include questions which serve as cross-checks on the answers of other answers.
- Avoid leading or value-laden questions
- Avoid asking difficult questions
- Keep your questionnaire as short as possible
Size and Sampling
The researcher has a significant measure of control over who is selcted and on the selection method.
Simple Random Sampling - selection at random from a choice of subjects
Systematic Sampling - selecting at numbered intervals
Stratified Sampling - sampling within particular sections of the target groups
Cluster Sampling - surveying a particular cluster in the subject group
The researcher has little or initial control over the choice of who is presented for selection or where controlled selection of participants is not a critical factor.
Convenience Sampling - choosing those immediately available
Voluntary Sampling - the sample is self-selecting
Purposive Sampling - researchers use their judgment to choose people
Snowball Sampling - building up a sample through informants
Even Sampling - using the opportunity presented by a particular event
Time Sampling - recognizing that different times or days of the week or year may be significant and sampling at these times or days.