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"paired depth, focus groups and workshops"

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The interview is a relatively informal "free-form" method of data capture, often used for collecting qualitative, unstructured information. It's a lightly structured conversation, to all intends and purposes.


The characteristics of an interview are informality and free flow; the use of unobtrusive audio (and perhaps video) recording; lack of formal structuring; and the goal of qualitative data capture. An interview can be conducted either as:

  • One to one - involving a single interviewer or facilitator and respondent, and structured around a small number of questions or observations
  • Paired-depth - involving a single interviewer and two "paired" (i.e. diversity is not optimal here) respondents, where issues are explored in greater depth than a one to one interview, perhaps with visual devices to aid dialogue and discussion
  • One to many - also called a focus group. Structured around clearly articulated (and potentially "difficult" or morally ambiguous) issues. Diversity is good, as discussion is key and consensus is not the goal.

What's it for?

Interviews are primarily for:

  • Collecting qualitative data - which includes perceptions, feelings, attitudes and ideas
  • Polling the "emotional depth" of issues and questions

Interviews can also have a "meta" purpose of (depending upon the situation) either fostering or deliberately breaking cohesion or consensus amongst group.

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