Fixing the respondent's answers, Controlling the reliability...

Fixing respondent responses

Very important in carrying out the research using the interview method is the question of how the respondent's answers will be recorded. Obviously, more reliable and detailed results will be obtained if it is possible to carry out a complete verbatim recording of all responses, as well as non-verbal reactions essential for understanding the essence of the answer.

Most often in modern studies, interviewers use a dictaphone followed by a verbatim transcript of the received audio. Audio recording of the interview should be conducted only with the consent of the respondent, having previously explained it to him. Usually, respondents do not refuse to participate in the conversation because their answers will be recorded in this way, and they get used to the fact that their speech is recorded rather quickly.

Audio recording gives complete information about the contents of the respondent's answers, about what questions and how were asked by the interviewer, as well as about the features of speech, pauses and intonations accompanying the answer. However, information about non-verbal behavior (facial expressions, gestures, poses) is lost in this case both the respondent and the interviewer, which can give a clue for a correct understanding of what the interviewee wanted to convey. In addition, information about the context in which the conversation took place (the design of the room, the location of the participants) is also lost, which can also sometimes be useful in decoding the record in order to better understand the answers (for example, if the interviewee appeals to some objects of the environment to illustrate his answers). In addition, if the conversation is carried out with several respondents (for example, when conducting focus groups), the presence of a video recording will make it possible to better understand who exactly pronounced this or that remark.

In this sense, the most complete recording of an interview can be ensured by the use of a video recording that will allow recording all the listed elements at once, however, recording on a video camera often complicates the interview procedure both in terms of the organization of the process and in terms of the respondent's feelings (he can feel yourself uncomfortable, which will affect the quality of the answers that he will give).

As a result, video recording is used infrequently in studies, and the recording of important non-verbal signals of the respondent can be done using short records made by the interviewer during or after the conversation.

The presence of a video recording will help to analyze the non-verbal behavior of the interviewer, which can sometimes cause the respondent's closeness in response to some questions, if they were accompanied by inadequate non-verbal signals from the interviewer. Therefore, video recording is good to use in the training of interviewers to analyze their non-verbal behavior.

Sometimes, if it is not possible to make audio or video recordings or if the respondent refuses them, the answers can immediately be recorded in a written record. Of course, this complicates the interviewer's work many times, because apart from establishing and maintaining contact with the respondent, listening carefully to his answers and formulating further questions, it is also necessary to keep a record. Of course, this makes the conversation process even more artificial for the respondent, violates the interviewer's contact with the respondent, may lead to the respondent trying to formulate his answers in a more literary rather than colloquial language, and "dictate" their interviewer. In addition, it takes away the attention of the interviewer from the analysis of the conversation situation.

The most convenient for fixing, therefore, are structured interviews with closed questions, when the interviewer only needs to encode the answer chosen by the respondent.

Sometimes an assistant can be invited to conduct such an interview. In this case, he should be located relative to the respondent so as to fall into his field of vision, but remain at the periphery of it. But we need to understand that the presence of an additional person in the conversation situation can negatively affect its flow, breaking the contact with the respondent even more than if the interview was conducted by the interviewer himself.

In general, the fixation of respondents' answers during the interview itself, no matter how one of these methods it is not carried out, although it results in the most detailed record of the respondent answers, can also lead to the fact that the contact between the respondent and the interviewer will be violated, and trust respondent decline. If this is observed during the interview, the record can be stopped - say, at a time when the respondent answers very personal and intimate questions. If the respondent's answers are recorded by hand, it's all the more better not to record them immediately in his presence.

If you can not record the answers in the interview process, you need to do this as soon as possible after it ends. This is the most unfortunate of all possible methods of recording, as it is very subject to distortions on the part of the interviewer due to memory limitations, and because of the manifestation of installations or other factors (for example, some information can be stated as more significant, at that time for the respondent, it is not, and some information the interviewer can completely neglect).

If there is no possibility to use sound recording equipment, it is better to record the main moments of the conversation in its process, and then, after the completion of communication, to supplement the protocol with details. However, in any case, it is necessary to rely as little as possible on the self-memory when fixing the respondent's answers.

No matter how the conversation is recorded, a detailed protocol of its progress must be obtained at the output for analysis. It must necessarily contain the wording of the interviewer's questions, as well as the verbatim (but possible) answers of the respondent. If necessary, the answers of the respondent can be supplemented by remarks concerning the accompanying non-verbal behavior and features of speech (for example, he began to speak very quickly, took a long pause, etc.).

Some researchers recommend making a conversation protocol in the form of a table consisting of three columns. In the first column the question of the interviewer is fixed, in the second - the respondent's answer, and in the third - the nonverbal behavior accompanying him. With such an organization, the text of the answers can be easily separated from the comments on non-verbal behavior, and both these components can be analyzed separately.

Monitoring the reliability of interview data

Check the reliability and reliability of the data obtained in the interview is difficult, because both the respondent's answers and their interpretation by the interviewer are related to the subjective features of the interlocutors. The control of the information received in the interview can be tried in the following ways.

First, use the control questions in the conversation, i.e. to ask key questions in several different ways at different stages of the interview. It is necessary to monitor whether the interviewee gives consistent answers to them, and in the event of a discrepancy, clarify their reasons.

Secondly, these interviews can be compared with information obtained using other methods. Most often, surveillance can be used as an auxiliary method. In the course of it, you can confirm or deny the respondent's words. Of course, this is not always possible and depends on the specifics of the topic, but quite often interviews and observation are used simultaneously within the same research project, and the data obtained by these methods is refined and complementary.

In addition, additional interviews can be conducted with other people who are related to the respondent, for example, conversations with his relatives, friends, colleagues, etc. in order to check whether the respondent's answers correspond to the way they appear to the people around him. For example, if an important topic in an interview is memories of some past events, you can interview his friends who also participated in these events. In some cases, this can clarify the information or supplement it.

Repeated interviews with the same respondents can also be used to confirm the information received in the interview, in which the questions discussed at the previous meeting will be partially affected.

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