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Planning an interview for your project

Watch the video which introduces four novice researchers as they start to think about interviewing.

Watch the video which introduces four novice researchers as they start to think about interviewing. As you watch, think about how would you go about this stage of your research.

Ivy Tanzila and Fatima Uddin are from East London. They have previously taken part in the citizen science research project in East London described by Ben Anderson in step 2.4. Cinderella Al Homsi and Moustafa Ismail are current and former students from UCL. Moustafa is from Egypt and Cinderella is from Syria. We recommend watching the videos with English subtitles as they contain both English and Arabic.

The researchers are developing interview questions based on their research question. In the next step they will practice and reflect on how to do an interview, and what kinds of questions to ask. Join Ivy, Fatima, Cinderella and Moustafa by working through the same activities to develop and practice your own interview questions.

For this step, there are three exercises:

Exercise 1: Choose a research question from the following:

  • why do children stay away from school?
  • what challenges do people experience as they travel during the day?’

We will refer back to these as we work through the course

Or – create your own.

And we will remind you to reflect on this as we work through.

Exercise 2 Decide whom you could interview

  • Identify 3 types of people who could tell you something different about your chosen topic.
  • Make a note of what type of perspective each would bring to the issue.
  • Think about any other groups whose perspective is missing to create a more complete picture


  • What kind of effect you might have on the research: How could you ensure that their response to you does not negatively influence how they answer your questions?
  • Make some notes about the best way to recruit your interviewees, and where you could conduct the interviews (e.g. somewhere you won’t be disturbed).
  • Make some notes about how to appear friendly, open, relaxed during the interview e.g. should you start asking questions immediately you arrive?
  • Make some notes about what might be a sensitive question on this issue: how could you ask a sensitive question – what not to ask, what to ask?
  • Does your choice of interviewee open you up to having your assumptions challenged? How would you ask questions to make sure your assumptions are challenged?

Exercise 3: Drafting your interview questions

  • Draft 5 interview questions related to your Research Question.


  • The relationship between your research question and the questions you will ask participants in an interview? How will your participants’ responses help you answer your research question?

Record in your Research Notebook your response to all these questions

Over to you

In the discussion, share any difficulties you have had in choosing interviewees, and any issues that have occurred to you as you prepare your answers to these questions.

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