The interpretive approach has been defined as “Interpretive methods of research start from the position that our knowledge of reality, including the domain of human action, is a social construction by human actors and that this applies equally to researchers. Thus there is no objective reality which can be discovered by researchers and replicated by others, in contrast to the assumptions of positivist science” (Walsham, 1993) The interpretive approach is based on the idea that people create their own intersubjective and subjective meanings as they interact with the world around them. In other words, the interpretive approach assumes that society is not objective or singular but in fact based on human experiences (Pelz, 2019).
Due to Interpretive researchers view that society is embedded within and impossible to abstract. Interpretive researchers attempt to interpret society by implementing a making sense process rather than a hypothesis testing process. This making sense process focuses on identifying, interpreting and documenting participant’s world views, values, meanings, beliefs and thoughts (Othman , Kholeif, & Elbardan, 2017).
An interpretive researcher can never have a value neutral or objective stance. The researchers own human experiences, beliefs and views will implicate the data they gather (Baroudi & Orlikowski, 1991). According to Walsham he describes this as “What we call our data are really our own constructions of other people’s constructions of what they and their compatriots are up to” (Walsham G. , 2006, p. 9) For example with in social care, if I was carrying out research on staff burnout within homeless services, and I had burnt out or one of my close colleagues my own experiences would affect the data when I was interpreting it. To avoid and prevent this as much as possible there are several common practices or principles adhered to by interpretive researchers. These include have an interview guide for all participants and a supervisor with experience to guide and assist you analyzing the data (Reid, 2019).
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Ethical considerations have been described as one of the most important sections in conducting and writing research (Research Methodology, 2019). Ethical considerations can include but are not exclusive to voluntary participation, informed consent, anonymity, confidentiality and the do no harm practice (My Peer Toolkit, 2019). Practical considerations include value of the research on society, time, cost and resources (Imperial College London, 2019).
According to Bell and Bryman concerning ethical considerations, a researcher must ensure that first and foremost participants are not exposed to any harm while conducting a group interview. This can be achieved by always prioritizing and ensuring the participants are respected and their dignity protected. This ethical consideration is supported in the research published by Fouka and Mantzorou that stated “the protection of dignity” of subjects to be the most important focal point above completing and conducting research (Fouka & Mantzorou, 2011). Although this ethical consideration should be more of an obligation to first do no harm, it is usually employed across all forms of research one to one interviews as well as group interviews. Concerning group interviews specifically Voltelen et al (2017) suggest that it is vital to ensure that participants understand what participating in a study means. For example if a group interview is being carried out among family members, co workers or even friends participants should be made aware and given clear information about the study as well as any potential implications or consequences it might have on their relationships. (Voltelen, Konradsen, & Østergaard, 2017)
In relation to practical consideration according to the University of Glasglow, A practical consideration that should always be considered by researchers is whether a group interview should be in a public or private space. Some participants might feel safer in a public space whereas some may not be comfortable sharing in a public space (University of Glasgow, 2002). Concerning ethical considerations anonymity and confidentiality is a crucial ethical consideration before conducting a group interview; In fact this is more than an ethical consideration along with requesting consent this law under GDPR regulations. Permission to record the group interview must be received from each participant and a consent form should be signed.
Voltelen et al lastly suggest that the option of individual interviews could also be explored as opposed to group interviews as they have both advantages and disadvantages. For example I am conducting my dissertation on drinking habits among young males. Some men may be more willing to share their habits among peers or friends as they may share similarities, whereas others may be embarrassed or could be struggling with an addiction and may fear being stigmatized for this reason it is a researchers duty to offer a participant individual and group interviews.
Personal presentation is a term used to describe how a person presents themselves while conducting an interview (Mistry, 2016). This involves wearing clean and ironed clothes, having clean and neat hair and having good hygiene standard overall which also includes clean nails and teeth (Club Training, 2019). I need to present myself in a positive and put together way because when I am conducting interviews I am not only representing myself and my work but I am also representing the Institute (Reid, 2019).
Body language is the term given to the signals and gestures human beings communicate to one another using their face and body. For example if I was to sit with my arms crossed and legs crossed while interviewing a participant this may indicate I am closed off. According to Karen Friedman, communication expert, having your arms crossed over your chest indicates defensiveness and resistance (Karen Freidman , 2019). Bearing this in mind when I a conducting my interviews with participants I will sit with my legs uncrossed and palms facing up as this demonstrates openness and honesty while also tilting your head slightly which demonstrates that a individual is listening keenly, or is interested in what is being communicated (Your Dictionary, 2019). It is vital to demonstrate listening and attentive body language while conducting an interview as it respectful to the participant that is taking time out of their day to participate. Demonstrating positive body language is also important because if a participant doesn’t feel heard or listened to they won’t share their insights and experiences which is what a researcher needs to gather rich data (Reid, 2019).
General communication is a skill that involves transferring information from one place to another (Davies, 2019). This can in written, spoken or even communicated by posture and body language as previously mentioned. General communication is important because I need to ensure I am asking participants questions they understand and can answer to get rich data. I also need good general communication because I need to be able to understand and interpret what the participants are saying to gather correct and reflective data (Reid, 2019).
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