Home MIT Qualitative Research Methods: Conversational Interviewing

Qualitative Research Methods: Conversational Interviewing

Online Course Highlights
  • MIT via edX
  • Learn for FREE, Up-gradable
  • 9 hours of effort required
  • 19,777+ already enrolled!
  • Skill Level: Intermediate
  • Language: English

This short course is adapted from a semester length graduate level course taught at MIT covering Qualitative Research Methods. This online course will focus specifically on teaching how to prepare for and conduct a conversational interview for data gathering purposes.

We will also discuss the nature of qualitative research as a methodology, how it compares and differs from other forms of research, and how qualitative and quantitative research complement each other in a research project.

This is the first in a multi-part series which will be released over the coming year, which will focus on Conversational Interviewing, Data Analysis, and Constructing Theory.

You might have encountered other forms of interview techniques in your studies and training. The form that we are teaching is the preferred method of Professor Silbey’s, one that she has used extensively throughout her career. The goal is to construct an interview protocol such that you will be able to guide your interviewee through topics of interest to your study without bringing them up explicitly, in order to explore experiences and accounts without pointing respondents in particular directions. Not sure what an interview protocol is? No problem! You will by the end of the course.

What you’ll learn

  • How to prepare an interview protocol, and how to conduct an interview.
  • How to assess validity in qualitative research.


We will cover the following topics:

  • The Science of Social Science
      • What is Social Science?
      • How does Social Science differ from the physical sciences?
  • The Process of Qualitative Research
      • How does Qualitative Research differ from Quantitative Research?
      • What is Fieldwork?
      • Conversational Interviewing and it’s use in research
  • Establishing Validity in Qualitative Research
      • What are the criteria for validity when conducting Qualitative Research?
      • What are the tests for validity?
  • Conducting Conversational Interviews
      • Interviewing as Data Collection
      • Drafting an Interview Protocol
      • Interviewing Techniques
  • Interview Examples & Discussion
      • Demostratons of Good and Bad interview techniqueswith detailed discussion
  • Logistics and Ethical Concerns
      • Logistics of Conducting Interviews: Finding & Inviting Subjects, Recording Interviews, etc
      • Ethics & Human Subject Research

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