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Reflective Interviewing

Reflective Interviewing
A Guide to Theory and Practice

February 2010 | 216 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd

Qualitative researchers have long made use of many different interview forms. Yet, for novice researchers, making the connections between "theory" and "method" is not always easy. Reflective Interviewing provides a theoretically-informed guide for researchers learning how to interview in the social sciences.

In order to undertake high quality research using qualitative interviews, a researcher must be able to theorize the application of interviews to investigate research problems in social science research. As part of this process, researchers examine their subject positions in relation to participants, and examine their interview interactions systematically to inform research design. This book provides a practical approach to interviewing, helping researchers to learn about themselves as interviewers in ways that will inform the design, conduct, analysis, and representation of interview data.

The author takes the reader through the practicalities of designing and conducting an interview study, and relates various forms of interview to different underlying epistemological assumptions about how knowledge is produced. The book concludes with practical advice and perspectives from experienced researchers who use interviews as a method of data generation.

Reflective Interviewing is written for a multidisciplinary audience of students of qualitative research methods.

Asking Questions and Individual Interviews
Interviews with Groups
Theorizing the Qualitative Interview
Designing Studies That Use Interviews
Doing Interview Research
Theorizing the Researcher: The Reflective Interviewer
Examining Interview Talk
Analyzing and Representing Interview Data
Final Thoughts: Learning How to Interview

What [Roulston] provides is an excellent blend of the theory and practice of interviewing with a careful analysis of the literature on the theoretical aspects of qualitative research, much of which can be off-putting to a new researcher because of its density. This is carefully synthesized with the more practical aspects of interviewing where different scenarios are examined showing there is no 'one size fits all' approach
Management Learning

'You might expect a book on interviewing in qualitative research to focus solely on the procedures of conducting interviews; however [in this book] Roulston offers this perspective and much more. In particular, her new book addresses ways in which the researcher's theoretical perspective can inform not only the interview but also each stage of the research process...This thoughtful approach to research will benefit novice qualitative researcers, helping them to not only learn some of the procedures involved in research but also to bring critical reflection to their research studies
The Weekly Qualitative Report

I found the narrative well constructed, which resulted in a comprehensive ‘journey’ through the different thought processes and practicalities of qualitative interviewing...Every chapter is well referenced, contains helpful case examples of the topic and ends with a useful reading list and an exercise which could be used as easily on oneself as in a lecture hall. The book is rounded off with a list of top tips from experienced researchers and a substantial reading list.

Overall I found this comprehensive and accessible
Social Research Association News

Interviews are a key element of many research projects but are rarely considered in depth by researchers this excellent book by Kathryn Roulston is a well written easy to read guide to everything a researcher needs to know about the theory and practice of employing interviews in their research. Everyone who intends to use interviews in their research will benefit from this book.

Mr Sam Emmett
Early Childhood Education, Glyndwr University
June 27, 2018

The book is aimed at researchers who are interviewing for the first time. The author has three aims: firstly to explain the theoretical choices available for interviews; secondly, to encourage reflexivity when interviewing and thirdly to analyse interviews using a methodological approach. The book achieves these aims in part: the majority of the book describes interviewing approaches, conventions and practice. Chapter 6 on “The Reflective Researcher” is excellent, although the only section that explicitly addresses reflexivity, although the book is title “Reflective Interviewing.”
The weaknesses of the book include a clunky writing style. Also, the theories introduced in the first chapter are not applied to the interview analysis in subsequent chapters, making the overall thesis rather disconnected.
The strengths of the book include exercises at the end of each chapter, which would be useful for both an individual or for a class. The recommended reading is comprehensive, particularly as the book covers many theories and methods.
There are no diagrams or suggested processes for how to theorise, design, conduct, transcribe and analyse interviews. This is not a how-to guide in the traditional sense. It works better for a postgraduate researcher who has some experience in interviewing, but who wishes to take a more nuanced approach. The use of the transcription convention described in Appendix One throughout the book was initially offputting for someone unfamiliar with the notation, but ended up being an excellent way to understand transcription annotations. The book is oriented, as the title would suggest, towards qualitative and non-positivist approaches.
The real value of this book was in its overview of a wide range of interesting interviewing styles, including dialogic interviewing, and interviewing approaches, including romantic, decolonizing and transformative theories. I would not recommend it as a first read for those wishing to learn more about the role of interviewing in research, but as a supplementary text for a postgraduate student, needing a more nuanced understanding of interviewing.

Mrs Udeni Salmon
Salford Business School, Salford University
October 5, 2016

An extremely helpful guide to conducting interviews for social researchers.

Sasha Pleasance
Care & Learning Opportunities, South Devon College
July 6, 2016

This is a very useful text, and nicely structured for easy reading.

Miss Amy Clark
Sport Science, Tourism & Leisure Dept, Canterbury Christ Church University
January 21, 2015

use it to provide additional guidance to master students once their research proposal is accepted. this gives them deeper instruction on interviewing technique. is helpful with this student's research on project managers.

Dr Beverly Pasian
Faculty of Economics and Management, Hogeschool Utrecht
December 28, 2014

For many of my MA HRM/D students, they are engaged in reflective interviewing, often few realise it! This is a help book which guides students through theory and practice.

Dr Julie Haddock-Millar
leadership, work and organisations, Middlesex University
November 6, 2014

I could use this as a valued supplementary text and have listed it us in my qualitative research syllabus, but it could not serve as a primary text based on my reading of it.

Dr Tom Strong
APSY, University Of Calgary
February 21, 2014

Great text, neatly structured. The author charts the way from considering the options for gathering qualitative narratively based data right through to thinking about evaluation and quality appraisal issues. Particularly helpful resource for masters and doctoral level students.

Mrs Sally Goldspink
Allied Health & Medicine, Anglia Ruskin University
November 22, 2013

This is a good more specialist book for students doing qualitative research. Would be particularly helpful for those at Masters level. It is clearly written and structured and provides helpful advice to students wanting to improve their approach to interviewing.

Dr Sally Nash
Youth, Midlands Centre for Youth Ministry
December 20, 2012

Sample Materials & Chapters


Chapter One