Phellas, C., Bloch, A., & Seale, C. (2012). Structured Methods: Interviews, Questionnaires, and Observation (Summary)

This chapter describes interviews, questionnaires, and structured observations. These methods can be useful for cost-effective research, although each has its strengths and weaknesses. Interviews can be face-to-face or done over the phone. Self-completed questionnaires are also versatile in delivery form and accessibility, and web-based platforms allows for a more widespread and diverse population. One important tip from this chapter is to consider the key concept-identifier links that accomplish research goals. This means thinking about what sort of information might be asked to answer research questions. The chapter also discusses the potential for requesting sensitive information and recommends postal or web-based surveys as a tactic to distance researchers from participants.

When creating surveys, it is important to keep in mind the experience of taking the actual survey. A good survey will be short, and have a welcome message providing context about the project. Another important point is to give an option for no answer, in case participants are hesitant to answer. The chapter also recommends piloting the questionnaire to get feedback on any awkward questions or layout issues. A structured observation involves a distanced researcher with pre-coded criteria to collect. These criteria may come from a ready-made tool (such as RIAS or FIAC) or may be developed by the researcher. This is another method in which the presence of the researcher may influence the behavior that is observed. I appreciate this chapter, but I would have liked for each method to have had its own. These are the anthropological methods I find most often in UX research, and I think that a deeper knowledge of the benefits and issues of concern with each will be essential.

Phellas, C., Bloch, A., & Seale, C. (2012). Structured Methods: Interviews, Questionnaires, and Observation. In C. Seale (Ed.), Researching Society and Culture (3rd ed, pp. 181–205). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.


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