Developing interview guides for a qualitative research interview: What are the recent models?

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    Hi everyone,

    Can someone please suggest to me any useful and/or recent models for developing a semi-structured interview guide?




    Ahmad Salih

    Hi Makmid,


    I don’t think there are specific models for developing semi-structured interview guides. The interview schedule is a list questions related to your primary research question. Further, the interview questions are sometimes guided by your chosen theory for your conceptual framework. So my advice is to spend some time thinking about what exactly you are trying to explore with your participants, and start from there.


    I hope this helps.



    Thank you very much Ahmad. I’ll follow your advice and try to come up with key questions that could help frame my research.


    Thanks once again.


    David Morgan


    Of course, Ahmad’s advice to concentrate on your key questions is essential, but there are a number of different formats that you might consider for organizing the overall interview.


    I would recommend the discussion on this topic in Rubin & Rubin’s book, Qualitative Interviewing: The art of hearing data.




    Why don’t we let the issue emerge on it’s own by the interview we conducted. Whatever it is i bielieve appropriate thoery will guide us futher. Anyway good luck.

    Ahmad Salih

    Well, that’s one way of doing it, of course. This is if you decide to conduct unstructured interviews, which is more popular in grounded theory research (Chenitz & Swanson, 1986).

    David Morgan

    I personally like the discussion in Rubin & Rubin, Qualitative Interviewing (2nd ed.).



    I think the mistake here is to try and create a model for something that is meant to be loose and free. 

    If it were to be predefined by a model it would be a structured interview. 

    The best advice I have received (and I am fairly new to this myself) is to have a general but not fixed idea of a number of areas you would like to cover. Then start with a broad and open question. Let the interviewee lead the discussion. 

    I have a list of questions in front of me and the four topic areas too. My tendancy at forst was to divert straight to my list after the first broad question covered a few. A few times i even grouped the questions too. But i found that this is no good. It is not semi structured, it is still structured and i was leading too much. 

    With each interview you conduct be prepared to adapt some more. Now instead I asking the questions I ask the participant to discuss their thoughts on the four topic areas I have. I tick the questions off without even asking them. 

    Plus I use ladder questioning when the opportunity arises or the interviewee shares a new and interesting idea a would like to explore more. This is basically ad-libbing with new questions aimed at digging deeper at what lies behind a particular statement. This could never be planned.

    Also remember to try and be open and flexible. Until you have the data, my supervisor says, you don’t know what your thesis will be about. I like to think like this it makes the whole process that bit more exciting and it puts my participants in the driving seat. 

    Having this kind of relaxed approach also minimises any chance of bias or direction on part of the researcher, Hopefully something that will look good come viva. 


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