Monday, 28 April 2014

Why I love online interview research

Janet Salmons is a network member and a contributing expert to the online team. 

There are nearly as many kinds of research approaches as there are questions to study. While it is the task of the researcher to match approach to question, it is clear that some researchers simply prefer one approach over another, and select types of questions that permit them to carry out the inquiry in the preferred way. I admit it, I am guilty. While I see the value in all sorts of studies, I would not be content to crunch Big Data, even if it meant I could generate impressive maps and diagrams. I want to learn about their experiences first hand. I want to know why. Why did you make that choice and not another, why was it important to you, why do you plan to do things differently in the future? I cannot ask an extant mountain of Big Data to tell me more.

Online interviews allow researchers to pose questions in a variety of ways with participants anywhere, at any time. In synchronous interviews we can capture the immediacy and emotion of the moment, and when we click on the webcam to video conference we can have a dynamic exchange that is close to being there in person. We can traipse around a virtual world together or share a desktop or application, and discuss what we are experiencing. Or we can use a whiteboard to diagram and draw perceptions of the phenomena. With flexible asynchronous emails we can create an extended narrative correspondence or text message on the go, and ask participants to share their observations on site-- perhaps even relaying pictures or maps back to us.  It can be a rich exchange!

And yet, as always in scholarly research there are more issues and requirements to be considered including rigour, ethics, and methodological alignment. There is also the all-important acceptance by dissertation chairs and ethics boards, editors and peer reviewers. To add to the challenge, many of those who would hold the study’s fate in their hands are not familiar or comfortable with online methods.

Resources and upcoming events

To help researchers navigate these matters and create well-designed, coherent studies that merit approval, I have been focusing my attention on the development of design approaches for online interview methods. I created the “E-Interview Research Framework,” a holistic, systems-thinking set of guiding questions and models (Salmons, 2012, 2015). My new book from Sage Publications, Qualitative Online Interviews, is organized using this Framework.

To celebrate the May book release I am organizing an interactive, global online multi-platform extravaganza of free webinars, discussions and tweetchats about using e-interviews in research and teaching online methods. In addition to NSMNSS, SCoPE, e/merge Africa and IT4All are offering opportunities to learn together and exchange ideas. You are invited!

SCoPE, an online community interested in technology, educational research and practice, will host events from May 1 to 16, and additional events will be offered throughout the summer. Visit SCoPE at for free registration, webinar log-in information and related resources. Follow @einterview for updates.

Save the dates

Asynchronous Discussion Forum May 2-16:
·         Teaching Digital Qualitative Interview Methods
·         Designing an (Approvable) Study with Digital Qualitative Interview Methods
·         Open Discussion and Q & A

Webinars, May 5 and 12, and June 7:
·         Monday, May 5, 2014 at 17:00:00 Fair and Good? Ethics and Quality in Online Interview Research
·         Monday, May 12, 2014 at 17:00:00  See, Share, Create: Visual E-Interviews
·         Saturday, June 7, 2014 at 15:00 Online Interviews for Active Online Learning

NSMNSS Tweetchat, May 8:
·         Thursday, May 8, 2014 at 14:00:00  5 Tips for Teaching E-Interview Methods. Follow @NSMNSS and include #NSMNSS in all your tweets.

e/merge Africa Events,
July 21-25:
Details TBA


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