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19 AUGUST 2015

Interview Guide Development: A 4-Stage 'Funnel' Approach

"In-depth interviewers and focus group moderators typically work from an outline of relevant topics and questions that guides them through the interview or discussion. The guide is intended to be just that, a guide, and not a strict, prescriptive document. With the guide, the ultimate goal is to enable the interviewer or moderator to efficiently incorporate all of the issues that are important to achieving the research objectives. Maintaining clarity throughout the interview or discussion on the related issues is actually a more essential purpose of the guide than the actual questions or follow-up probes it may contain.

The most typical and effective approach in constructing an interview or discussion guide is to begin broadly and progressively narrow the topic area to the subject matter of greatest importance to the research objectives, i.e., a 'funnel' approach."

(Margaret R. Roller, Research Design Review)



approaches to data collection • broad to narrow • constructing interview • data collection techniquesethnographic design approachethnographic methodsethnographic researchfocus groups • funnel approach • funnel interviewing approach • general to the specific • interview (research method) • interview process • interview questions • Margaret Roller • qualitative researchqualitative research interviewqualitative research technique • relevant topics • Research Design Review (blog) • research methodsrunning the interview process • staged approach • topic areas • topic outlines


Simon Perkins
22 FEBRUARY 2012

Robert K. Yin: Qualitative Research from Start to Finish

"qualitative research first involves studying the meaning of people's lives, under real–world conditions. People will be performing in their everyday roles or have expressed themselves through their own diaries, journals, writing, and even photography – entirely independent of any research inquiry. Social interactions will occur with minimal intrusion by artificial research procedures, and people will be saying what they want to say, not, for example, limited to responding to a researcher's preestablished questionnaire. Likewise, people will not be inhibited by the confines of a laboratory or any laboratory–like setting. And they will not be represented by such statistical averages as the average American family having 3.18 persons (as of 2006) – which at once may represent accurately an entire population but in fact by definition does not speak to any single, real–life family.

Second, qualitative research differs because of its ability to represent the views and perspectives of the participants in a study. Capturing their perspectives may be a major purpose of a qualitative study. Thus, the events and ideas emerging from qualitative research can represent the meanings given to real–life events by the people who live them, not the values, preconceptions, or meanings held by researchers.

Third, qualitative research covers contextual conditions – the social, institutional, and environmental conditions within which people's lives take place. In many ways, these contextual conditions may strongly influence all human events. However, the other social science methods (except for history) have difficulty in addressing these conditions.

Experiments, for instance, 'control out' these conditions (hence the artificiality of laboratory experiments). Quasi–experiments admit such conditions but by design nevertheless focus only on a limited set of 'variables,' which may or may not fully appreciate the contextual conditions. Similarly, surveys are constrained by the need to manage carefully the degrees of freedom required to analyze the responses to a set of survey questions; surveys are therefore limited in the number of questions devoted to any contextual conditions. History does address contextual conditions, but in its conventional form studies the 'dead past,' not ongoing events as in qualitative research (refer again to footnote 1 about oral history).

Fourth, qualitative research is not just a diary or chronicle of everyday life. Such a function would be a rather mundane version of real–world events. On the contrary, qualitative research is driven by a desire to explain these events, through existing or emerging concepts. For instance, one existing concept is Goffman's (1963) stigma management. In his original work, stigma management largely pertained to adaptations by individual people. However, a contemporary qualitative study applied his typology and framework to a collective group, thereby offering new insights into how the actions of nation–states also might try to overcome their own historically stigmatizing events"

(Robert K. Yin, p.8,9)

1). Robert K. Yin (2011). "Qualitative Research from Start to Finish", The Guilford Press.


Simon Perkins
23 NOVEMBER 2011

Practice-led/practice-based research methods

"To date, there is no definitive published single source on research methods for artists and designers. The following methods are drawn from a range of sources, most importantly from validated completed formal research in Art and Design (main sources: ARIAD–; British Library's Index to Theses–, Higher Education institutes' published information), as well as useful examples of research projects in non–formal frameworks (for example, industry, commerce, education, and so on) as reported in various journals and professional publications. An examination of some of these examples would no doubt lead to 'classic' references to various 'design methods' publications by, for example, Archer (1965), Jones (1980), Cross (1984), and so on; and important research by Cornock (1978, 1983, 1984) on Fine Art methodology. During recent years, many more examples of practice–based research have become accessible. Many have already been cited in previous chapters and more are cited in this one.

These methods are particularly useful if your own practice forms part of the research methodology.

Other methods described come from Social Science research, for example (accessed 15 August 2003); Denzin and Lincoln (1994); and some specifically from educational research, for example Cohen and Manion (1994), McKernan (1998). These are particularly relevant for human inquiry related to Art and Design, for example the study of an individual's practice, and user feedback for designed products. In some circumstances, particular areas of design, for example industrial design, a more scientific approach may be appropriate, in which case 'design methods' may be useful. Documented examples of projects using design methods can be found in the journal Design Studies– (accessed 16 June 2003). The range of methods outlined is by no means definitive or completely comprehensive, and they cannot be described here in any great detail. If you think that a particular method described in this book would be useful in your project then you should discuss it with your supervisor. You should always follow up the references and examples given in order to appreciate the context in which the method was used. As you become more familiar with various methods you will realize the kind of tasks involved in applying them. Once you have identified these tasks, build them into your plan of work. Research methods development relies on researchers (including you!) adding further detail and modifying as a method is tried and evaluated."

(Carole Gray and Julian Malins, 2004, pp.104– 120)

[Gray and Malins outline the selection and use of common practice–led/practice–based research methods including: Practice; Photography, Video, 3D Models/maquettes, Reflective journal/Research diary, Audio reflection, 'Sweatbox', Case study, Interview, Questionnaire, Personal constructs.]

1). Carole Gray and Julian Malins (2004). "Visualizing Research ", Ashgate.


3D models (research method) • applied research • ARIAD • art and designartists • audio reflection (research method) • British Library • Carole Gray • case studycreative practicedesign researchdesign research approachesdesign research projectdesign researcherdesign studieseducational researchestablished research methodsfine art • Fine Art methodology • focus groups • formal research • Higher Education institute • human enquiry • industrial designinterview (research method) • Julian Malins • maquette • non-formal frameworks • personal constructs (research method) • photography (research method) • practice (research method) • practice-based researchpractice-led research • professional publications • questionnairereflective journalresearchresearch design • research diary • research methodsresearch papersocial science • sweatbox (research method) • undergraduate researchuser feedbackvideo (research method)visual arts


Simon Perkins
20 OCTOBER 2011

Design Council: Design methods

"This section explains some design methods and how they are used by designers. We talk you through everything from brainstorming to physical prototyping."

(UK Design Council)

[Their design 'methods' include: Observation, User diaries, Being your users, Brainstorming, Choosing a sample, Quantitative surveys, Fast visualisation, Secondary research, Focus groups, Assessment criteria, Comparing notes, Drivers and hurdles, Customer journey mapping, Character profiles, Scenarios, Role-playing, Service blueprints, Physical prototyping, Phasing, Final testing, Evaluation, Feedback loops, Methods banks.]



eing your users • blueprinting • brainstorming • character profiles • choosing a sample • cluster and vote • comparing notes • customer journey mapping • Design Council (UK)design methoddesign methodologydesign methodsdesign researchdesign team • drivers and hurdles • fast visualisation • focus groups • hopes and fears • innovationmethods for design practicemind mapmind mappingobservationpersonas (UCD) • physical prototyping • project space • prototypingquantitative surveysrole playingscenarios • scribble-say-slap • scribble-say-slap brainstorming • secondary research • UCD • user diaries • workshop toolkit


Simon Perkins
08 MAY 2011

Design Research: Building a Culture from Scratch

"Conference description of the topic: A 2005 education survey by Metropolis Magazine showed no consensus among practitioners or educators about what constitutes design research; limited access to research findings from professional practice; nascent use of students as interns in the research process; and great confusion about what design issues deserve the greatest attention by researchers. Organizers of the 2007 conference of the International Association of Societies of Design Research reported that only 10% of the paper submissions came from Americans, demonstrating that the US is behind other countries in the generation of new knowledge.

Despite this confusion, there is ample evidence that research will play an increasing role in the future of professional practice and that the typical usability testing in labs and focus groups will be insufficient in informing large–scale communication strategies and technological development. Further, it is apparent that design practitioners consider research to be proprietary and that any large–scale dissemination of new knowledge must come from academic institutions.

It is clear, therefore, that much work is yet to be done in building a research culture. Traditionally, undergraduate 'research' activities have been defined in terms of existing information retrieval on the subject matter of the communication, the wants and needs of the client, and the technical demands of message production and distribution, little of which is transferrable to other projects. Further, in many programs there is limited curricular distinction between the research behaviors expected of undergraduate and graduate students, leaving the majority of master's graduates unprepared for the scholarship and knowledge generation demands of current faculty positions in research–driven institutions."

(Judith Gregory, Deborah Littlejohn et al., 10 October 2010)

Moderator Judith Gregory and writer Deborah Littlejohn have a report on Design research: Building a culture from scratch



2007 • academic institutions • academic programmesart and design conference • building a research culture • communication strategiesconceptualisationconferencecurriculumdesign educatorsdesign practitionersdesign researchenquiryfocus groups • from scratch • graduate studentsInternational Association of Societies of Design Research • Judith Gregory • knowledge generation • masters degree • Metropolis Magazine • new knowledgeprofessional practicerequirements gatheringresearch • research findings from professional practice • research process • research-driven institutions • researchersscholarship • technical demands of message production and distribution • technological development • the wants and needs of the client • theory building • transferrable • undergraduate researchundergraduate studentsusability testing


Simon Perkins

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