Qualitative interviewing workshop

Course introduction

This intensive (graduate) workshop aims to provide participants with a solid basis in qualitative interview for social science research purposes. It is intended for two types of participants: those who are quite new to qualitative interviewing, but have concrete intentions to use interviews in the not-to-distant future; and those who already have some experience with qualitative interviewing and would like to deepening their practical skills as well as their theoretical understanding of interviewing as a research method.

The main topics covered during the workshop are the following:

  • Main types of qualitative research interviewing (semi-structured, unstructured, narrative interviews, expert interviews, exploratory interviews, etc.);
  • Theoretical and epistemological bases of research interviewing
  • Understanding the nature of the interview interaction (interviewer and interviewee roles; perceptions and interpretations of roles; power analysis etc.)
  • Links between theory, practical interviewing, and the analysis of interview data (research strategies, various usages of theory, “operationalising” theoretical ideas for interview topic guides).
  • Interview topic guides (open questions, probes and prompts, content-deepening and -widening questions, etc.)
  • Basic interviewing skills
  • Advanced interviewing skills (sensitive questions, “difficult” respondents etc.)
  • Recruiting interviewees – process and strategies
  • Analysing interview data; connecting interview data to other types of data
  • The research interview process
  • The ethics of interviewing

Format and activities

The workshop will include various types of activities: input lectures by the instructor; hands-on exercises; discussions of readings; short presentations by participants (if they want to) of their own research, etc.

The workshop will be intense and requires the participants to be fully engaged throughout. The indicative timetable is 9-12:30 and 13:30-16:30 approximately.

Preparatory work

About a month ahead of the workshop, the participants will receive a number of preparatory readings that they will be asked to have done before the workshop starts. They will also be requested to provide some information about their research interests and their profile.

The instructor

Lea Sgier is a (part-time) senior lecturer in qualitative methods at the Political Science Department of the University of Geneva (Switzerland). She also teaches qualitative methods for a number of graduate programmes, such as the ECPR Winter school (qualitative interviewing), the Essex Summer School (qualitative data analysis) or the WSSR Workshops at Concordia University Montreal (discourse analysis, research design). She has just completed a research project involving over 80 interviews with elderly people and care home staff in Switzerland. She has also recently done over 30 interviews with youth workers and public health stakeholders for a programme evaluation, and currently collaborates (for the data analysis part) in another study based on over 200 interviews with institutionalised youth. She is also a member of the Ethics Committee of LISER in Luxemburg.