Face to Face Interviewing in South Asia (Pakistan) – A Modern Look – by Mohsin Muslim

Face to face research in South Asia particularly in Pakistan is still considered the most reasonable option for researchers. This is
because of population diversity, spread, low literacy rate, and
availability of low priced local field work resources.

For every fieldwork, the researcher has to assure three vital steps to select a representative sample including Selection of Area, Selection of Household and Selection of Respondent. Face to face mode provides these basic essentials for a successful research.

Online surveys are more like buzz word in research now a days but the scenario differs in our region. Online surveys are less practical
here due to low penetration of online population in Pakistan (11%)[1].Also
this population exists only in special segments. On another front,
mobile phone access is available to approximately forty percent
population in Pakistan[2])
but the issue remains with the non availability of directories of
mobile phone for segmentation e.g. to identify gender, area of the
respondent and other issues related to appropriateness of sampling
frame.

People living in this region are generally talkative and take approximately 10 minutes more time in start up communication. So, in
practical 15 minute questionnaire in English can be administered in 25
minutes time. Interviewer’s introduction in local language as per local
norms helps in building rapport and understanding with the respondent
to gain better response rate. As some respondents may not be very
cooperative in interviewing and they start un-necessary discussion and
confrontations in the beginning. This issue is better controlled in
face to face interviewing. Field teams are trained enough to exhibit
patience and tolerance to listen to the remarks of the community
members while working in a community. This helps in paving the way for
future work in that area.

Sometimes, contact with the Local Elders/ Upper Caste/ Influential Persons is helpful in conducting interviews. Such contacts are however
made only when they like to facilitate the holding of interviews within
selected area.

We at International Field & Tab are working on hybrid techniques in field work management with the application of new technologies and
internet.

The future of face to face research exists in the region but in combination with the other faster research and communication links. We
see face to face research in align with other modern modes of research.
In future countries of this region might be using mixture of online and
offline mode in face to face research. The combination may yield field
visits, filling of e-Questionnaires on laptops and PDAs, live streaming
as show cards, integration with location of interview via using
satellite maps and real time entry of data into company’s portal. (By
Mohsin Muslim, CEO International Field & Tab Email
info@field-tab.com.pk)


[1] Internet World Stats, figures Pakistan: PTA

[2] ITU Website / PTA -2006/2007

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