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Focus on Methodology: Eliciting rich data: A practical approach to writing semi-structured interview schedules

Margaret Bearman


One of the aims of qualitative research is to seek deeper understandings of the human experience. Semi-structured interviews are one of the most common methods used to achieve this purpose. However, novices may find it difficult to write interview schedules that elicit the type of thick, rich description that forms the foundation of qualitative inquiry. This paper provides a practical approach to writing semi-structured interview schedules that use events as the basic building blocks of the interview. This approach suggests three steps: (1) considering which core event or series of events illustrate phenomena of interest, (2) ordering questions to optimise an intuitive and conversational flow and (3) refining the schedule through a series of review and piloting.



qualitative methods; interviewing; semi-structured interview schedules

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