Face-to-Face Research Methods

According to Knight a good research is a person who uses several methods appropriately and accurately for the kind of research that he or she is conducting. A researcher should be able to build trust with the participants in order to have a better understanding and bring embedded things into his or her work. Interviews are best conducted when the interviewer is not sticking to a ridge script that can hinder the possibility of being able to change the questions accordingly to ensure good results that are meaningful instead of a dead end that needs to be rethought out. In the course of a conversation a person is able to shape it in the ways that they want by implying things and steering the other person through a series of topics or questions to acquire a variety of data but throughout the entire discuss the topic shifts, allowing for a new perspective or understanding of the subject that the research intended to analyze.

I find it interesting how the natural sciences perceive the face-to-face research to be contaminated from subjectivity or in other words human interference with the subject being analyzed or tested. This kind of research may be needed but it is supposed to be tainted, which suggests that these methods are biased from a natural science perspective. Yet, according to Knight this research in other fields is necessary because the research is the main research instrument and the inquiry requires subjectivity. If one thinks about it is not all research a bit biased in some form because of the desired outcome or the hypothesis that the researcher hopes that his or her research will result in?

Face-to-face methods may have it disadvantages but based on Knight it seems to have a lot of positive advantages that are beneficial for the social sciences. If one wants to do the mixed methods of qualitative and quantitative or either one that Luker discussed then would not these various forms of face-to-face methods help to make sense of the data collected as it would be easier depending on what type one wanted to use. These methods allow for the researcher to change his or her direction throughout the study by rephrasing questions if the interviewee does not understand what is being asked of him or her. It also allows for new insights to stem from the results that may not appear in the distance methods. The distance methods omit the human aspect of the research and focus more on the results that follow a script instead of allowing room to improvise so that it yields positive results.

I like how Knight talks about the different kinds of face-to-face methods and states their pros and cons so we may see what will probably work best for the type of research we are planning to conduct, as well as, how we might go about it. Knight does not say which method is better than the other but his insights allow for inexperienced researchers to better understand the various possibilities that are available for conducting research instead of just sticking to a single method and using it in the wrong context.


One thought on “Face-to-Face Research Methods

  1. bradleymcilwain

    Hi Courtney,

    I find Knight’s comments on interviews as a face-to-face method to be problematic as well, particularly when talking about what he calls conversational, or unstructured interviews. He writes:

    “The principled, as opposed to the pragmatic, case for a conversational agenda, is that the set of prompts itself amounts to a theory, explicit or tacit, of the subject being investigated. Asking about some things indicates a belief that they are important, and lurking behind those questions are assumptions – often crude ones – about why they are important.” (Knight: 62)

    A few things came to mind as I read this: a) aren’t all interviews, by their definition, built upon conversation? b) Knight’s comment about assumptions – or bias – lurking behind the interview questions ‘about why they are important’ implies what you said, Courtney, about contamination by subjectivity, which I find slightly suspicious, since, as you also pointed out, by formulating a hypothesis, there is a certain level of subjectivity that happens when we make assumptions in supposing where our research might take us.

    Also, by selecting a topic of ‘our’ choice for research purposes, do we not already have our own opinions about where we stand, and, through research, are we not tasked to set out to prove these assumptions that we have formulated?



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