How to Analyse and Interpret Data Collected from an In-depth Interview

In-depth interviews are labour-intensive. They cannot finish in one attempt. The process of data analysis starts when you have collected material. However, you still cannot separate the process of gathering data from analysis. In fact, you will start analysing data as you commence an interview. Analysing the data sets off as you hear something from your participants. However, you have to be considerate during this stage as it might contaminate the next part of the interview. 

Tape-recording interviews

For better analysis, you should have words of participants in written form. The primary method to transform spoken words to written text is to transcribe the recorded material. Your consciousness will play a paramount role in the interpretation of data as it must interact with the words of participants. 

Another benefit of tape-recording interviews is you have access to the original data. If something is not clear in a transcript, you can return to the source and check accuracy. Further, you can also avoid the accusation of mishandling data by demonstrating your accountability to data. The tape-recording method also enables you to improve your interview techniques.

Transcribe interview tapes

Transcribing interview tapes is an arduous task and potentially costly too. As a substitute, you should listen to tapes a number of times and then pick up the most important section and transcribe that part only. However, this is not an advisable approach because it may lead to premature judgment about what is essential and what is not. 

How to study and analyse the text

In-depth interviews generate a colossal amount of information. Organised in several stages, these interviews emanate records full of long sentences, words, paragraphs and pages. It is requisite that you pick up information that is most relevant to answer your research questions and meet research objectives. The most crucial thing is that you reduce data by inductive approach rather than deductive approach. 

The first step to reduce the text is to read it and mark with brackets the passages that seem important and interesting. While winnowing the text, you may feel unable to decide on the significant paragraphs. You will feel like falling into the trap of self-delusion. Therefore, you can later check with the participants to see if what they have marked as important seem interesting to participants or not.  

Sharing interview data

Your ultimate goal of marking text as important from a transcript is to shape it in a presentable form. You can use two basic ways to share interview data. First, you can develop profiles of individual participants and group them into categories. Second, you can mark individual passages, group and study them in categories.

There is no right way to craft profiles for sharing interview data. Some researchers present the text in charts and graphs, and some give priority to words more than a graphical representation. Once you have read the transcript, marked passages of interest, and labelled those passages, you will put all those passages in a single transcript. This version may result in one-third of the original interview script. 

The next step is to read the new version and underline paragraphs that are compelling. Be faithful to the words of participants. You may be tempted to introduce some words to make transitions between passages. You can let readers know when words of participants have not been used by using ellipses or brackets around your own text. 

Making and analysing thematic connections

While reading interview transcripts, you can label the text that you find interesting and important in the context of your research questions. Further, you will decide on a word or phrase in which labelled passages can fit. Sometimes, you may find a term from a paragraph itself. Assigning a particular term to each selected paragraph is known as categorising. This entire process is also known as coding. This is essential so that a computer programme can quickly sort and classify interview data. 

Interpreting the material

Interpretation is not a stage that begins at the end of an interview. The interpretation process starts as you ask questions from your participants. Marking interesting passages, labelling them and categorising them is an analytic work that calls for an interpretation. Visit here for detailed information on Data Analysis.

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