We outline a guide for facilitating face-to-face in-depth interviews without the use of electronic recording devices in criminal justice research. It is designed to provide researchers with step-by-step directions they can follow to conduct interviews when recording equipment is not available, not allowed, or not used due to other reasons. In-depth interviews are common in qualitative criminal justice research but require researchers to be highly flexible and adaptive. When interviews are conducted on sensitive issues or carried out in high security environments, recording devices may not be permitted or welcomed. This protocol aims to make the interviews more structured, systematic and organized when electronic recording devices are not used in an attempt to enhance the accuracy and transparency. These guidelines were developed based on practical and theoretical foundations.


Total Quality Framework, Qualitative, No Recording, Recording Interviews, Crime Research, Protocol

Author Bio(s)

Phaik Kin Cheah is an assistant professor in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman, Malaysia. She received her Ph.D. at Universiti Sains Malaysia. Her research interests are in the areas concerning police volunteer reserves, teacher education, and qualitative methods. She also serves as a volunteer police constable in Malaysia. Correspondence regarding this article can be addressed directly to: cheahpk@utar.edu.my.

N. Prabha Unnithan is a professor of sociology at Colorado State University. He received his Ph.D. in Sociology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He served as the Editor of the Journal of Criminal Justice Education (1999-2002) and The Social Science Journal (2006-2011). He is currently co-editor of the Sociological Quarterly and 1st Vice President of the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences. His research interests are in the areas of criminology, criminal justice, and policy analysis. Correspondence regarding this article can also be addressed directly to: Prabha.Unnithan@colostate.edu.

Annie Margaret Sandela Raran is now a freelance researcher. She was formerly a lecturer at the Faculty of Arts and Social Science, Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman, Malaysia. Her areas of interests are in counselling, prison research, and sexuality. Correspondence regarding this article can also be addressed directly to: anniesandra76@gmail.com.


The authors thank Mr Chang Tiam Chau, Senior Library Manager of Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman for his assistance in the acquisition reference materials. We are grateful to all our undergraduate and graduate student assistants, and the hundreds of participants from criminal justice populations who participated in our projects without whom this work would not have been possible.

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