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virtual

Interviews as Method of Data Collection in Times of Polarisation

Course Dates and Times

Date: Monday 5 – Friday 9 February 2024
Duration: 3 hours of live teaching per day
Time: 13:30 – 16:45 CET

Annemarie Walter

Annemarie.Walter@nottingham.ac.uk

University of Nottingham

This course will provide you with a highly interactive online teaching and learning environment, using state of the art online pedagogical tools. It is designed for a demanding audience (researchers, professional analysts, advanced students) and capped at a maximum of 16 participants so that the teaching team can cater to the specific needs of everyone. Online interactions include small lectures, classroom feedback, and group exercises in breakout rooms. All our online interaction will be via Zoom.

Purpose of the course

The purpose of this course is to gain an in-depth understanding of interviewing as a data collection method in political science research, by developing your skills in designing interview protocols, dealing with the practicalities of conducting interviews, managing personal interactions and strengthening reflexivity.

The course focuses on one-on-one, expert and elite-interviews. The course is appropriate for researchers wishing to use interviewing as stand-alone data collection method or as part of a mixed-method approach.

By the end of this course you will be able to

  • Know when to make use of (elite) interviewing as a data collection method
  • Design your interview study and defend your methodological choices
  • Gain knowledge of different kinds of interviews and interviewing styles
  • Be aware of various challenges and strategies involved in recruiting interviewees and conducting interviews, in particular with experts/elites
  • Independently prepare and conduct interviews
  • Evaluate and safeguard the quality of interview data
  • Have basic knowledge on how to analyse interview data and how to report your interview data appropriately
ECTS Credits

4 credits - Engage fully in class activities and complete a post-class assignment


Instructor Bio

Annemarie Walter is an Assistant Professor in the School of Politics and International Relations at the University of Nottingham. She obtained her PhD in political science from the University of Amsterdam.

Her research interests are parties’ campaign strategies, elite (moral) decision-making, misperceptions and conspiracy beliefs and voters’ responses to politicians’ transgressions. Her work has been published in international journals such as Political Communication, Political Behaviour and Political Psychology. Her most recent book is an edited volume entitled Political Incivility in the Parliamentary, Electoral and Media Arena: Crossing Boundaries.

Her research is based on data collected by conducting survey questionnaires, online survey-embedded experiments, content analysis, (elite) interviews and archival research. She has ample experience interviewing campaign managers, politicians, bureaucrats, and journalists.

Key topics covered

Day 1: Interviewing as Data Collection Method

When is interviewing as data collection method appropriate in political science research? What are the different methodological approaches to interviewing and what are the strengths and weaknesses of interview data, in particular for experts and elite interviews? You will learn about how to identify your interviewees, different sampling strategies, how to recruit interviewees and the best mode to conduct these interviews. You will have the opportunity to join in group reflection on the ethical considerations of conducting interviews, such as anonymity, confidentiality, data security, withdrawal, debriefing, informed consent, vulnerable interviewees, and distressing topics.

Day 2: Preparing your Interviews

The quality of the data yielded is strongly dependent on your preparation, the structure of your interview protocol and the questions asked at the various interview stages. This session will focus on interview protocols, question development, the use of stimulus material and pre-testing and subsequently revising your interview protocol, questions and stimulus material. Time will be allocated to discuss the challenges of collecting data in multilingual and multicultural settings.

Day 3: Preparing and Conducting Interviews

In this session, you will deepen your knowledge of interactions between the interviewer and the interviewee and the importance of reflexivity. What is professional behaviour for an interviewer? How does the interviewer create trust and conversational flow? What power, culture and gender dynamics are potentially at play? How can we limit social desirability and confirmation bias in data generation?

Day 4: Conducting and Transcribing Interviews

This session will focus on interviews about sensitive topics and interviews in polarised contexts, such as societies and groups divided by political conflict and heightened (partisan) identities. How do you deal with the emotions of the interviewee and your own emotions as interviewer? You will also acquire knowledge of strategies for dealing with unanticipated events and challenges to the overall data collection (when conducting elite interviews).

Day 5: Analysing and Safeguarding the Quality of Interview Data.

When have you collected enough data? What can you do with your data? You will have the opportunity to discuss different methods of analysing interview data, inductive, and deductive analysis strategies, such as thematic content analysis and conversational analysis alongside the rest of the group. In addition, time will be freed up to touch upon the importance of cross-referencing and conducting validity and reliability checks and risks of misunderstanding and under-theorisation of data.


How the course will work online

The course combines asynchronous pre-class assignments, such as readings and pre-recorded videos, along with daily live online sessions. In these sessions, short, focussed discussions will take place on the preparatory readings and pre-recorded videos, conduct and discuss (group) assignments. As part of the course, you will analyse transcripts and recordings of (elite) interviews conducted by other scholars, engage in role-playing and conduct your own interview(s), the latter will be with non-elites. You will be able to book one-to-one consultations with the instructor, over the duration of the course.

Any prior knowledge of research design and methods is an asset, but not required.

You are expected to conduct approx. 3 hours of preparatory work for each session, which includes readings, pre-recorded videos and practical assignments.

If you have interview experience, you will be asked to describe a scenario of an unexpected and/or uncomfortable event that happened while interviewing.

You will be expected to practice interviewing and conduct a semi-structured interview with a family member, friend or colleague as part of the course.