Episode 9

David D. Perrodin

My dear fellow applied linguistics researcher friends…

At the end of Episode 8, I asked you to stay tuned for the next episode when I would share with you the challenges of collecting qualitative interview data during a global pandemic. So, here we go….

Over the past year, qualitative researchers have been caught between Scylla and Charybdis (between a rock and a hard place) when collecting qualitative interview data via open-ended questionnaires. You see, researchers have always believed that to collect the most valid qualitative data from open-ended questions, interviews should be conducted in a face-to-face setting, whether by focus group discussions or individual interviews. However, it seemed that every researcher had to change their game plan when faced with a global lockdown.

Being physically distanced from someone to avoid catching or spreading the dangerous coronavirus has caused researchers to consider different options of qualitative data collection. They have considered using written open-ended queries, such as emails or instant online chats. However, they quickly realized that the quality of the data was not what they desired. Some researchers have even tried virtual video interviews. Still, they found that participants often have issues with suitable internet service or lack the technological savvy needed to use some of the more complex virtual applications.

After perusing the literature about collecting qualitative data via written open queries, I knew that they had to be a more feasible way of collecting qualitative data to open-ended questions. After a couple of weeks of looking for the best option for gathering qualitative open-ended interview data, I decided to try collecting data using spoken open-ended queries rather than written open-ended queries or virtual video interviews.

To test my hypothesis, I sent open-ended questions to respondents and asked them to provide written responses via a free, commonly used online word processor application. Next, I sent similar open-ended questions to the same respondents and asked them to provide spoken responses via a free, user-friendly online survey platform.

I must say that I was shocked by the data. Not only was the free, user-friendly online survey platform easy to use for the respondents, but I was also able to collect a large amount of quality data in a short time without overly consuming personal resources. The average word count of the written responses was 18 words per reply per respondent. The average word count of the spoken responses was 373 words per reply per respondent. Not only was the word count over 20 times greater in the spoken responses, but the respondents were also able to communicate their personal opinions, beliefs, and experiences more comfortably.

Most adults who are pursuing a Ph.D. also have full-time jobs and families. I hope that sharing my journey with you every month lets you know that you are not alone in your Ph.D. journey.

Stay tuned for the next episode of “From the Mind of a Developing Researcher,” when I will share with you the challenges of continued topic flow within written discourse.

My Favorite Websites

  1. Academic Phrasebank. https://www.phrasebank.manchester.ac.uk
  2. Google Docs. https://www.google.com/docs/about/
  3. Phonic. https://www.phonic.ai
  4. Social Science Statistics. https://www.socscistatistics.com/default.aspx
  5. WordNet. https://wordnet.princeton.edu
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