Title

The email interview in qualitative research: A discussion of the practical utility

Location

2073

Format Type

Paper

Format Type

Paper

Start Date

14-1-2017 1:10 PM

End Date

14-1-2017 2:30 PM

Abstract

Interviews with key informants are the most common means of data collection in qualitative descriptive research. Researchers have traditionally preferred face-to-face interviews but advances in technology have resulted in additional options, including email exchanges, to conduct interviews. The purpose of this presentation is to discuss the practical utility of the email interview in qualitative research. Email interviews offer a convenient alternative for overcoming geographical barriers and financial limitations that hinder face-to-face interviews. Beyond convenience, there are numerous advantages to email interviews that may contribute to better data collection. For example, email interviews allow for prolonged engagement with participants to connect and establish relationships. Some participants, particularly digital natives, may be more comfortable with email interviews resulting in a more naturalistic exchange of ideas. The back and forth email exchange provides a forum to clarify comments, pursue further inquiry and ensure accuracy in describing the experiences from the perspective of the participants. The opportunity to carefully construct and reflect on the written responses may lead to richer data. On the other hand, lack of access or comfort with email communication would inhibit data collection. Furthermore, the written responses of email interviews lack some of the social cues that may contribute to a full understanding. Composing written responses to interview questions takes more time which could discourage participation or result in short, abrupt answers from participants. A discussion of the practical utility of email interviews will assist researchers in determining when email interviews are preferred for data collection.

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Jan 14th, 1:10 PM Jan 14th, 2:30 PM

The email interview in qualitative research: A discussion of the practical utility

2073

Interviews with key informants are the most common means of data collection in qualitative descriptive research. Researchers have traditionally preferred face-to-face interviews but advances in technology have resulted in additional options, including email exchanges, to conduct interviews. The purpose of this presentation is to discuss the practical utility of the email interview in qualitative research. Email interviews offer a convenient alternative for overcoming geographical barriers and financial limitations that hinder face-to-face interviews. Beyond convenience, there are numerous advantages to email interviews that may contribute to better data collection. For example, email interviews allow for prolonged engagement with participants to connect and establish relationships. Some participants, particularly digital natives, may be more comfortable with email interviews resulting in a more naturalistic exchange of ideas. The back and forth email exchange provides a forum to clarify comments, pursue further inquiry and ensure accuracy in describing the experiences from the perspective of the participants. The opportunity to carefully construct and reflect on the written responses may lead to richer data. On the other hand, lack of access or comfort with email communication would inhibit data collection. Furthermore, the written responses of email interviews lack some of the social cues that may contribute to a full understanding. Composing written responses to interview questions takes more time which could discourage participation or result in short, abrupt answers from participants. A discussion of the practical utility of email interviews will assist researchers in determining when email interviews are preferred for data collection.