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Qualitative Vs Quantative

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Semi-structured interviewing is the most widely used method of data collection in qualitative research in psychology, according to Willig (2001). One reason for this is that interview data from semi-structured interviews can be analysed using several theoretical approaches.

The semi-structured interview involves the preparation of an interview guide that lists themes that should be explored during the interview.

This guide serves as a checklist during the interview, and helps to ensure that the same information is obtained from all the participants in the study.

However, there is a great deal of flexibility in that the order of the questions and the actual wording of the questions are not determined in advance. Furthermore, the interview guide allows the interviewer to pursue questions on the list in more depth.

Strengths of the semi-structured interview
• On socially sensitive issues, it is better for acquiring data because the researcher can ask the interviewee to elaborate on his/her answers
• Less biased by the researchers preconceptions
• Has the flexibility of open ended approaches, as well as the advantages of a structural approach. It enables the researcher to make interventions, asking participants either to clarify or to expand on areas of interest
• Allows for analysis in a variety of ways because it is compatible with many methods of data analysis
• The interview guide sets out the themes to explore, but does not allow for pursuing themes that have not been prepared in advance

Limitations of the semi-structured interview
• The focus on individual processes - the one to one situation is somewhat artificial and this could bring issues such as ecological validity into question
• Data analysis can be very time consuming