Interpreting and recording responses

In fully structured interviews the role of the interviewer in interpreting and recording responses is limited to doing so accurately. However, in open-ended and qualitative interviews the interviewer has an important role to play in correct interpretation and accurate comprehensive recording of responses. In depth interviews and group discussion or focus groups it is usual for a tape recorder to be employed to record responses, but when open-ended questions are used in questionnaires it is more usual for the interviewer to be required to write down exactly what the respondent says. If the respondent speaks fully and quickly this can prove a practical difficulty for the interviewer which may be overcome by editing responses. This may lose some of the quality and detail of information that the researcher would like to acquire. This is one of the reasons why open-ended questions often do not work well when used in fully structured quantitative research surveys. To help overcome this, interviewers are usually instructed to go over the questionnaire as soon as possible after the interview to record anything remembered but not recorded during the interview.

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