The survey method is not an invention of sociologists. In all branches of science, where the researcher addresses a person with questions to obtain information, he deals with various modifications of this method. For example, doctors, examining the course of the disease and the previous state of health of the patient, conduct anamnesis surveys. The usage of this method isn’t limited. Lawyers, finding out the facts of the case from witnesses, also use the survey method specifically study its psychological aspects and the possibilities of assessing the reliability of the answers. Journalists, educators, employees of social security services and many other areas of social practice use this method to obtain the information they are interested in. Scientists, when investigating a particular topic, also use case study interview.
Main Advantages of This Method
It is possible to underline the following advantages of a survey, which make this method of research so useful and popular:
- Relaxed atmosphere and increased sincerity of answers.
- It allows getting information about the opinions, motives, and views of an answerer.
- The personal nature of the interaction ensures his greater confidence, as well as the serious attitude of the informant to the conversation.
- The opportunity to observe the respondent’s psychological reactions allows adjusting the plan in the course of the conversation.
- A possibility to clarify questions.
- Personal contact with an answerer ensures maximum completeness of the questionnaire implementation.
- The reliability of the collected data is increased by reducing the number of unanswered and errors in completing the questionnaires.
- When moving from one topic to another, the interviewer can change the wording of the question without changing its focus.
Specifics of an Interview as a Method of Research
Specificity of the method consists is in the fact that a person as a direct participant in the social processes and phenomena under study is the source of primary sociological information. The interview is the most flexible method of collecting sociological information. It suggests a conversation on a specific plan with the respondent, based on the personal contact between the sociologist and the respondent.
Case study interview process is a situation of verbal exchange, where one person is trying to obtain information or expressions of opinions or beliefs from another person (or persons during a group interview).
How to Prepare for an Interview
Case study interview preparation involves the formulation and implementation of the following objectives:
- Establishing contact with the answerer;
- The correct setting of case study interview questions;
- The correct fixation of answers.
The specific preparation of the survey involves making decisions on a number of key research questions. Such questions include the choice of respondents, the preparation of a questionnaire, the definition of the time and place of a meeting, the definition of the recording method.
Throughout the whole period of communication with the respondent, the researcher provides social and psychological interaction, creates a friendly atmosphere, in which further conversation is conducted. Thus, the entire procedure, beginning with the appearance of the interviewer and with his first words, should provide for the respondent’s motives that prompt sincere answers.
The researcher directly interacts with the respondent: asks questions (according to the questionnaire) and registers the answers. The interviewer leads the conversation, directs it. In this regard, the researcher should accurately formulate the question; ask all questions on the questionnaire and strictly in the order in which they are recorded, and accurately record the answers received. In the course of the survey, nothing should be changed. The case study interview frameworks should be the same for every participant on the terms of the meeting, in the formulations and the sequence of questions asked.
The researcher shouldn’t discuss case study with the interviewees, interrupt them and show his personal interest in the results of the research. During the conversation, he should take a neutral position in relation to the subject of the study.
The duration of the interview is not limited. It is not recommended to rush answerers with responds. Its pace is determined by the circumstances: the specific nature of the research topic; the level of educational and cultural development of the respondent; his age. If the problem is difficult, the tempo of a survey can be slow. At the same time, a researcher should not allow respondents to think about the answers for a long time since this can lead to misrepresentation of information. In order to reduce the problems of respondents’ perception of questions and the socio-psychological problems of the survey, it is necessary to use standardized case study questions whenever possible, taking into account the characteristics of the respondent (education, gender, age).
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Such a survey method should supply the researcher with all the factual material. Consequently, the questions of the interviewers, the answers of the respondents, and notes on observations form the basis for the conclusions of the researcher, which often contain conclusions and decisions that often go beyond the scope of a particular study. This makes a survey a useful tool for conducting a research.
In this regard, a special problem is the training of interviewers. It includes not only instructing on the eve of the study, which is very important but also the selection and training of interviewers. Nevertheless, even a survey conducted by a student during a scientific research is a great practice for further achievements.