Skype as a Tool for Qualitative Research Interviews

Valeria Symonds, Paul Symonds, David H. K. Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

94 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Internet based methods of communication are becoming increasingly important and influencing researchers’ options. VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) technologies (such as Skype and FaceTime) provide us with the ability to interview research participants using voice and video across the internet via a synchronous (real-time) connection. This paper highlights the advantages of using Skype to conduct qualitative interviews and weighs these advantages against any limitations and issues that using this tool may raise. This paper argues that Skype opens up new possibilities by allowing us to contact participants worldwide in a time efficient and financially affordable manner, thus increasing the variety of our samples. At the same time, the use of Skype affects the areas of rapport, non-verbal cues and ethics by creating limitations but also new opportunities. The observations in this paper stem from two different researches, carried out by the authors, on dance (as a form of trans/cultural heritage) and wayfinding (the experience of getting from A to B in various settings). These studies lent themselves to using Skype for qualitative interviews, because of the need to reach an international, varied and purposeful sample. The researchers’ experiences, combined with feedback from participants in Skype interviews, are used in this paper. The conclusion is that, although VoIP mediated interviews cannot completely replace face to face interaction, they work well as a viable alternative or complimentary data collection tool for qualitative researchers. This paper argues that VoIP based interviews offer new opportunities for researchers and should be embraced with confidence.
Original languageEnglish
Article number12
JournalSociological Research Online
Volume21
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 31 May 2016

Keywords

  • qualitative interviews
  • skype
  • VoIP
  • Internet Research Methods
  • Intangible Heritage Research
  • Wayfinding Research
  • Dance Research

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