Conversation is one, if not the most, powerful tools for human growth.
From Socratic dialogues to prime-time talk shows, we learn from asking each other questions, and there’s nowhere conversation is more highly valued than the world of qualitative research.
In fact, it could be posited that all conversation is qualitative research in some regard. Isn’t the transfer of knowledge and information at the root of all communication? What is listening but gathering important data?
Ok, while I would love to spend my time writing about the semantics and epistemology of human communication – what we’re really here to do is talk about why you, as a researcher, should be recording interviews.
Let’s start with an easy one.
Accuracy Is Invaluable
The tradition of using interviews as research tools is a long one. It seems like common sense that if you want to know what people think or feel about a particular subject, the best way to find out is to ask them. What may not be so obvious is the importance of analyzing the intricacies of human speech.
If you’re relying solely on note-taking to gather data during an interview you’re almost guaranteed to miss important details like word repetition, tonal shifts, and meaningful silences. By creating an audio recording of your interview you’re able to parse and analyze data you didn’t realize was there in the first place.
This takes us to the next set of benefits in recording research interviews.
Consider Questions of Accessibility
Audio recording, specifically digital recording, creates a piece of flexible media. Once you’ve finished the work of conducting your interviews you need to make sure that you can use it properly. Recordings are easily transferrable, storable and translatable. An audio recording can be transcribed into a text document, and likewise so can the conversational metadata.
The flexibility of audio recordings creates information that can be shared with anyone, anywhere. More and more we’re realizing that effective research depends on taking an interdisciplinary approach. Having accessible and translatable source material makes this easier.
So, we’ve talked about why recordings are so valuable after the fact, let’s take a second to look at why they’re important to the interview process itself.
Setting the Stage for Better Conversations
Being a successful interviewer requires many of the same skills you need to have meaningful conversations with people in your life. One of the most important considerations to keep in mind when you’re conducting an interview is to make sure everyone’s comfortable. If you’re obviously taking notes whenever your subject speaks, you’re almost guaranteeing a level of discomfort.
Audio recording is usually significantly less intrusive than note-taking. Recording the interview can make your subject feel more comfortable, and create a venue for them to fully express themselves. All of this leads to you getting the highest quality possible data set out of your research.
So, What’s the Takeaway Here?
There is an infinite list of reasons why you should be recording interviews. At the end of the day, it’s one of the easiest steps you can take to improve your overall research.
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