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Workshops & seminars, Conferences & lectures

Conducting Semi-structured Interviews - Part I (San Juan, Puerto Rico)

with Dr. Diana L. Gustafson,
Professor of Social Science and Health, Faculty of Medicine, Memorial University

SPSA - San Juan, Puerto Rico 2020
Wednesday, January 8, 2020
9:30 a.m. – 1:50 p.m.

Dr. Diana L. Gustafson,
Professor of Social Science and Health, Faculty of Medicine, Memorial University


Participants must register to attend: Register here


WSSR Coordinator
514-848-2424 x5473


SPSA Conference 2020
San Juan, Puerto Rico


When does it make sense to use interviews over other data collection methods such as field observation, document review and surveys? What kinds of research questions are better suited to collecting data using focus group interviews or in-depth individual interviews? How has the process of collecting interview data changed in the digital age? This session is ideal for those who are looking for a new approach to data collection or those embarking on a project that requires a clear plan for the various activities that extend beyond the interview moment.

This session will explore when, how and under what conditions social scientists across disciplinary boundaries use interviews for collecting qualitative research data. Participants will review a 7-step procedure for preparing and conducting individual and focus group interviews. Special attention will be devoted to the ethical considerations at the intersection of each step in this procedure including the population being interviewed, the subject or topic of the interviews, and the audience of the resulting research. The discussion will be grounded in the methodological principles that guide the construction of a sound research design, concept elaboration, and constructing an interview protocol that addresses a worthy research question. Questions discussed may include: Are interview data valid? How many interviews or focus groups are enough? How long is a good interview protocol? Participants are also encouraged to raise questions of interest to them or those posed by the recommended readings.


To create an interactive learning experience, come prepared with a research question that will be the focus of your work during this session. If you have developed a data collection plan or an interview protocol, bring that along too. You will be able to engage more actively in-class exercises if you bring a Wi-Fi enabled laptop with MS Word (or other document-editing software) and Adobe Acrobat (or other PDF-viewing software).

Workshop Outline & Reading List

Workshop Part I - Wednesday, January 8

Session 1 - Comparing Individual and Focus Group Interviews with Other Qualitative Data Collection Methods 9:30am - 10:50am
  • Cyr, J. (2016). The pitfalls and promise of focus groups as a data collection method. Sociological Methods & Research, 45(2), 231-259.
  •  Kvale, S. (1996). The 1,000-page question. Qualitative Inquiry, 2(3), 275–284. (an oldie, yes, but a foundational text written by a leading qualitative research scholar)
Session 2 - A 7-Step Data Collection Process 11:00am - 12:20pm


Session 3 - Addressing Practical but Thorny Questions Facing Researchers Who Conduct Interviews 12:30am - 1:50pm


  • Creswell, J. W., & Miller, D. L. (2000). Determining validity in qualitative inquiry. Theory into Practice, 39(3), 124-130.
  • Guest, G., Namey, E., & Mckenna, K. (2017). How many focus groups are enough? Building an evidence base for nonprobability sample sizes. Field Methods, 29(1), 3-22.
  • Hennink, M., Kaiser, B., & Marconi, V. (2017). Code saturation versus meaning saturation: How many interviews are enough? Qualitative Health Research, 27(4), 591-608.  

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