Online interviewing with interpreters in humanitarian contexts

Chiumento, Anna and Frith, Lucy and Machin, Laura Louise and Rahman, Atif (2018) Online interviewing with interpreters in humanitarian contexts. International Journal of Qualitative Studies on Health and Well-Being, 13 (1). ISSN 1748-2623

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Recognising that one way to address the logistical and safety considerations of research conducted in humanitarian emergencies is to use internet communication technologies to facilitate interviews online, this article explores some practical and methodological considerations inherent to qualitative online interviewing. Method: Reflections from a case study of a multi-site research project conducted in post-conflict countries are presented. Synchronous online cross-language qualitative interviews were conducted in one country. Although only a small proportion of interviews were conducted online (six out of 35), it remains important to critically consider the impact upon data produced in this way. Results: A range of practical and methodological considerations are discussed, illustrated with examples. Results suggest that whilst online interviewing has methodological and ethical potential and versatility, there are inherent practical challenges in settings with poor internet and electricity infrastructure. Notable methodological limitations include barriers to building rapport due to partial visual and non-visual cues, and difficulties interpreting pauses or silences. Conclusions: Drawing upon experiences in this case study, strategies for managing the practical and methodological limitations of online interviewing are suggested, alongside recommendations for supporting future research practice. These are intended to act as a springboard for further reflection, and operate alongside other conceptual frameworks for online interviewing.

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Journal Article
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International Journal of Qualitative Studies on Health and Well-Being
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Deposited On:
22 Feb 2018 15:28
Last Modified:
22 Nov 2022 05:31