The world is changing and so are your research plans and options. SAGE MethodSpace is trying to help by answering your questions. See the whole Q & A series here, and post your questions in the comment area.
In the BC (Before Covid) era, when we left the house and traveled, we had a chance to take some road trips in the Western United States. We were able to experience the fact that broadband and cell phone service are not universally available. When we think about alternatives to live face-to-face data collection, we have to accept this reality. While we might want to use a lively videoconference to conduct interviews or focus groups, that might simply be too exclusionary given the population we want to reach. This is particularly relevant for researchers who see technology as the medium for communication with participants, and are not studying technology features or usage.
A number of questions were posed about how to overcome these limitations:
- I have not seen or heard of telephone as a medium. Is telephone interview recommended in this COVID-19 era?
I am a researcher working in a low-income country context. Do you have any advice for eliciting in-person interview-quality responses via phone or another low-cost option for subjects who may not have a computer?
- Great concern is when you are dealing with participants in countries where network might pose greater problem. What options would you advise?
- Are there other options to gather information that don’t involve internet? Which one could be the most reliable?
I edited Cases in Online Interview Research a few years ago, but some of the cases offer examples that are quite relevant today. Luckily, this book is available in the SAGE Research Methods library resource. (See access information at the end of this post.)
This book is structured a little differently than most edited collections. I offered a template to contributors so that each case would include the same kinds of information, to allow readers to compare apples to apples. I wanted contributors to discuss the good and bad, the lessons learned from the approaches they selected. In other words, instead of glossing over any bumpy spots, to look at how they addressed obstacles.
I asked each contributor to offer a constructive, insightful response to another author in order to begin a research conversation between the covers of the book—a conversation I hope you will continue. Finally, I offered a critique of each case to discuss how it fit or exemplified the Framework introduced in this book as the “E-Interview Research Framework” and later expanded to encompass a wider range of data collection methods. I wanted to explore how each contributor aligned and balanced their research design choices.
Contributors to this section of the book had a use-what-you-have approach. They adapted to what was available to their participants. I hope their examples will help you think through your options.
- Chapter 8 | Case: Transitioning from F2F to Online Instruction: Putting the Action into Online Research
- Chapter 9 | Case: Integrated Interdisciplinary Online Interviews in Science and Health: The Climate and Health Literacy Project (For more about Dr. Wilson’s work, see this interview: How Indigenous Doctoral Students Succeed.)
- Chapter 10 | Case: Implementing Technology in Blended Learning Courses
- Chapter 11 | Case: Online Asynchronous and Face-to-Face Interviewing: Comparing Methods for Exploring Women’s Experiences of Breastfeeding Long Term
Here are some additional resources about telephone interviews in open-access articles from SAGE journals:
My Whole Life in Telephones: Material Artifacts as Interview Elicitation Devices
Abildgaard, M. S. (2018). My Whole Life in Telephones: Material Artifacts as Interview Elicitation Devices. International Journal of Qualitative Methods. https://doi.org/10.1177/1609406918797795
Irvine, A. (2011). Duration, Dominance and Depth in Telephone and Face-to-Face Interviews: A Comparative Exploration. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 202–220. https://doi.org/10.1177/160940691101000302
Reflection/Commentary on a Past Article: “Duration, Dominance, and Depth in Telephone and Face-to-Face Interviews: A Comparative Exploration”: http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/160940691101000302
Irvine, A. L. (2018). Reflection/Commentary on a Past Article: “Duration, Dominance, and Depth in Telephone and Face-to-Face Interviews: A Comparative Exploration”: http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/160940691101000302. International Journal of Qualitative Methods. https://doi.org/10.1177/1609406918776865
Using Visual Timelines in Telephone Interviews: Reflections and Lessons Learned From the Star Family Study
Pell, B., Williams, D., Phillips, R., Sanders, J., Edwards, A., Choy, E., & Grant, A. (2020). Using Visual Timelines in Telephone Interviews: Reflections and Lessons Learned From the Star Family Study. International Journal of Qualitative Methods. https://doi.org/10.1177/1609406920913675
Interviewing by Telephone: Specific Considerations, Opportunities, and Challenges
Block, E. S., & Erskine, L. (2012). Interviewing by Telephone: Specific Considerations, Opportunities, and Challenges. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 428–445. https://doi.org/10.1177/160940691201100409
Access Cases in Online Interview Research and more on SAGE Research Methods
If you would like to access the SAGE e-books, articles, case studies, videos, and datasets mentioned in these posts, explore SAGE Research Methods through your academic library, or with a free trial.