Phase F—Direct Information, Models and Experience

Goal

“I have gained direct information, models, and experience not readily available from other sources.”

Background

The opportunity to interview or observe someone whose work is central to your subject may arise at any time during your project. This phase is inserted at this point not to say you should refrain from interviewing until now, but because it usually takes you some time to find out what can be learned from other sources and to formulate the questions that can best be answered directly. In Phase F you aim to get access to the kinds of experiences that are not in the published literature or other available records. (If you want to get someone's suggestions of what to read, who to contact, or other guidance, think of that as talking with an Initial Guide for Phase B, not as interviewing.)

Tools and Processes

Interview Guide
Interviewing
Questionnaires and Surveys
Observation
Evaluation
Participant Observation

Sequence

By session 7
Write down five questions you would like someone to answer for you—not just any questions, but ones for which you cannot easily get answers from published literature. For example, you might need help from practitioners or activists in interpreting the controversies and politics around your issue.

During session 7
Draft an Interview Guide. Write out fully your opening and closing script in your interview guide, but an outline is usually sufficient for what lies in-between.
Practice interviewing using the Interview Guide. Set the scene for a peer and ask them to ad lib responses that your interviewee might give.
Refine the Interview Guide based on this practice interview.

After session 7
If there is someone you can interview who would help you meet the goal of this phase, undertake the following: Establish contact with them and schedule interviews. Finalize the interview guide. Do mock interviews in which you practice using the release forms (see Interview Guide and recording equipment. Conduct interviews. Digest recordings or notes.

Refer to a conventional text on social science research methods, such as Schloss and Smith (1999) for more detail on the practice of interviewing and for guidance on the following items:

Questionnaires & Surveys

Conduct a pilot survey or questionnaire, revise it in light of how it went, then implement the revised version.

Observation

Identify practitioners who can demonstrate their work.
Attend demonstrations of practices that might be incorporated in project.

Evaluating

Prepare Evaluations, conduct them, and analyze the data.

Participant Observation

Arrange participant observation at workshops on practices that might be incorporated in project.

Follow up

After the interview, observation, etc.
Prepare a brief written report on interview conducted, participant observation, workshop experience, or evaluation. Write this report in a form that is useful to you in drafting your project report—do not address the report to your advisor. There is no need to give blow by blow or a full transcript. Focus instead on the “direct information, models, and experience [you gained] not readily available from other sources.”