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Morgan Centre for Research into Everyday Lives

Toolkit 14: Using phone interviews

Annie Irvine, Social Policy Research Unit, University of York, September 2010

Summary

This toolkit explores the use of telephone interviews in qualitative research. It discusses the practical and methodological advantages of the approach, including minimal travel time and cost and increased anonymity for participants.

The two main methodological objections to telephone interviews are traditionally: the difficulty of achieving rapport with participants; and the lack of non-verbal communication. The toolkit discusses whether these concerns are well-founded, and suggests that their significance may have been exaggerated.

The toolkit is based on a study at the Social Policy Unit at University of York which compared face-to-face interviews and phone interviews conducted by the same researcher on the same research project to examine the difference that interview mode had on the data produced.

Other toolkits on using a particular method in your research: