Although conducting interviews is the most popular research strategy in qualitative research, we question whether it is the best strategy to use with young fathers and other populations who may be less willing to share personal experiences and thoughts with an unknown researcher. The reluctance of young fathers to engage in research leads to the omission of important perspectives and inadvertently results in young fathers' being understudied and unwittingly excluded from support programming and services. In this paper, we describe our experiences of using two different research strategies with young fathers: conventional in-depth interviews (i.e., interviews that rely on words only) and photo-interviewing (i.e., using photographs as props during an interview). We found that photo-interviewing contributed to young fathers' comfort during the research process, provided them a sense of agency, and possibly enriched the quality of the data. While we do not argue that one data collection strategy is necessarily better than the other, we would like to caution researchers against using conventional interviews as a default data collection strategy with marginalized, vulnerable, or less verbal populations for whom interviewing may not be the most suitable data collection strategy and to encourage researchers to explore alternative options.


Photo-Interviewing; Qualitative Methods; Research Strategies; Vulnerable Populations; Young Fathers

Author Bio(s)

Nicolette Sopcak completed a Master of Arts degree in Educational Psychology in 2003 in Munich, Germany and a PhD in Human Ecology in 2013 at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, AB. She is currently working in the Department of Family Medicine as Qualitative Lead of the BETTER Project, a chronic disease prevention and screening program. Correspondence regarding this article can be addressed directly to: Nicolette Sopcak at, Department of Family Medicine 6-10 University Terrace University of Alberta Edmonton, AB, T6G 2T4; Phone: (780) 248-5843; Fax: (780) 492-9253; nsopcak@ualberta.ca

Maria Mayan, PhD, is Associate Professor in Faculty of Extension at the University of Alberta; and Assistant Director, Community-University Partnership for the Study of Children, Youth, and Families.

Berna J. Skrypnek, PhD, is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Human Ecology at the University of Alberta.

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