The telephone medium and semi-structured interviews: a complementary fit

Cachia, Moira and Millward, Lynne (2011) The telephone medium and semi-structured interviews: a complementary fit. Qualitative Research in Organizations and Management: An International Journal, 6 (3). pp. 265-277. ISSN 1746-5648

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Abstract

Purpose – The telephone has been widely used to conduct quantitative research in diverse fields of
study, generally using survey methodology. However, comparatively very few qualitative studies opt
for this means of data collection. The purpose of this paper is to argue in favour of a medium that has
generally been second-rated in qualitative research. It aims at establishing telephone interviews as an
equally viable option to other established methods of qualitative data collection.
Design/methodology/approach – This paper is informed by the authors’ experience of using this
method, as well as the limited number of previous research articles presented on the topic. It discusses
its specific strengths and limitations, drawing on a conducted longitudinal study to illustrate key
points. Its application to particular qualitative analysis methods, in view of the acknowledged
requirements for each of these approaches, is also presented.
Findings – Telephone conversations naturally follow an agenda-driven format that is initiated by the
caller, similar to semi-structured interviews. The authors propose that the telephone medium and
interview modality are complementary. Also, the interview transcripts provide rich textual data that
can subsequently be analysed using a range of qualitative data analysis methods.
Originality/value – Focus is placed on the methodological strengths of using telephone interviews in
qualitative research, rather than convenience factors which have been the most featured element in
previous literature. The paper aims at informing researchers who want to consider using the telephone
medium for qualitative data collection and analysis.
Keywords Telephones, Qualitative research, Research methods, Interviews, Data collection

Item Type: Article
Subjects: Psychology
Depositing User: Moira Cachia
Date Deposited: 28 Jul 2015 07:28
Last Modified: 05 Mar 2016 01:48
URI: http://repository.uwl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1242

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