What skills are required to conduct an effective research interview? Do they differ from those required for an effective therapeutic interview and does it matter?
Bulpitt, H., & Martin, P. J. (2010). Who am I and what am I doing? Becoming a qualitative research interviewer. Nurse Researcher, 17(3), 7-16.
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qualitative data collection
Who am I and what am I doing? Becoming a qualitative research interviewer
Helen Bulpitt and Peter J Martin discuss using reflexion to make research processes in studies transparent
Qualitative research can be influenced by the researcher’s role in the study. Here, the authors propose reflexive methodologies as a means by which the processes undertaken by the researcher can be made transparent and used as part of the data. Using this approach, this paper explores the experience of becoming a qualitative research interviewer. It provides an account of dilemmas faced while undertaking a series of semi-structured interviews as part of a discourse analytic study into the practice of clinical supervision in a number of mental health professions.
key words: interview technique; ethical research; professional identity; clinical supervision
All research needs to demonstrate the trustworthiness of the researcher and the credibility of the methodology. Reflexive methodologies have been proposed as a means by which the researcher’s process can be made transparent and used as part of the data (Alvesson and Sköldberg 2000, Freshwater and Rolfe 2001, Carolan 2003, Etherington 2004).
While undertaking a research project investigating the practice of clinical supervision in a number of mental health professions, one of the authors (HB) conducted a series of semi-structured interviews involving supervisors and supervisees from mental health nursing, clinical psychology and counselling. The process prompted consideration of some emerging dilemmas:
* What skills are required to conduct an effective research interview? Do they differ from those required for an effective therapeutic interview and does it matter?
* How do I manage the discrepancy in my levels of understanding and experience between the three professions involved in the research, and does that matter?
Reflexive responses to these dilemmas identified some ethical considerations potentially relevant to qualitative research interviewing in general.
I came to this research with more experience as a counsellor than a reseacher. With a commitment to taking a reflexive approach to my research, I needed to articulate some of the dilemmas I faced undertaking an interpersonal interview as a researcher rather than as a counsellor.
Four related issues emerged:
* Interviewing interventions.
* The ‘self’ as a research instrument.
* Professional identity.
* The distinction between a research and a therapeutic interview.
While interviewing using a reflexive approach, I realised that the types of questions, responses and interventions I was making during the interviews were noticeably similar to those that I would make during the course of a therapeutic interview (Box 1).
These interventions derive from the process of establishing ‘psychological contact’ (Rogers 1951) in a therapeutic interview. While their familiarity felt reassuring, I wondered if they were appropriate in the context of a research interview and if they could inhibit the development and discovery of new skills and interventions more suited to a research interview.
According to Ritchie and Lewis (2003) the qualitative interviewer requires:
* A clear, logical mind.
* An ability to listen.
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