Tag Archives: interviews

The tools we use: Supporting Wikipedia analysis

The Ethnomatters team has been wanting to do a review of software tools for a while now but when we got down to writing them, we realized that there are already very comprehensive software reviews in places like the University of Surrey’s website. So we decided to rather compile short posts on the tools that each of us used in our last ethnographic project, highlighting what worked, what didn’t work and what we’re thinking of trying in the future. We’d love to hear from you about your own experiences so please feel free to add yours in the comments below for further reading!

For my latest project (“Understanding sources“), I needed to collect data from a really wide variety of sources. I had interview data, articles and papers from web, and then a multitude of Wikipedia talk pages, edits, history versions, related articles and image and video sources. For interviewing, I use my beautiful and incredibly trustworthy Zoom H2 audio recorder. I do my own transcriptions (as suggested by Jenna in order to get a really close understanding of the data) and for that I use ExpressScribe which seems to work pretty well. I like that you can use “hot keys” to stop and play and that the speed dial is in a good place for slowing down the dictation.Read More… The tools we use: Supporting Wikipedia analysis

Interviewing for Introverts

(Old School) Sony Voice Recorder ~ CC BY-SA Stilfehler

Interviews are one of my favorite things in the qualitative toolkit. They weren’t always.

Working at a research institute I’ve gotten to hear a lot of interviews, and they have pretty much always been fascinating — but I was  uncomfortable with conducting them myself.  I’m not exactly a social butterfly, and the thought of being an official interviewer asking official questions of research participants was a bit unnerving. You have to sort of lead (really more like guide) a conversation, and you may have to recruit strangers to participate, sometimes without being able to compensate them for their time. It seems like a job for an extrovert who loves talking to people. I’ve known qualitative researchers who were geniuses at talking to people (among other things), and have always envied them. But barring the right (or wrong?) combination of alcohol and setting, that’s not my skill set.

What I figured out eventually though is that interviewing is not so much about talking to people as it is about listening to them.  Not to say that talking doesn’t play a role in getting to the listening  — the Talking Geniuses (still jealous) do great work with their combined talking and listening skills.  But being an introverted type can also be made into an advantage.

Below are some interviewing concepts that I’ve found useful to keep in mind when doing interviews, along with some practical suggestions that might work especially for those of us who aren’t gifted talkers [1].

1. Don’t put words in people’s mouths. In fact, talk as little as possible. A pause that’s a bit longer than a pause would be comfortable in everyday conversation can work wonders in provoking further insights from a respondent. It signals that you’re waiting for them to say more, and gives them time and space to think more deeply. (See? Awkward pauses aren’t a reflection on your social skills. It’s a research technique.)

Read More… Interviewing for Introverts