Researchers who want to investigate a relatively new subject area should adopt an approach which facilitates the exploration and identification of emerging constructs. Within the context of a research question data should be gathered employing a technique which will support subsequent analysis. Emerging themes may be identified based upon the data which, in turn, could be employed to develop constructs relative to the research question. Thus, the data gathering technique must be employed consistently across a number of data gathering incidents. In contrast to this consistent technique, it also must allow for flexibility so that the research participants are relatively free to respond in their own way to the research question.
This document provides a description of a technique which addresses this conundrum of consistency and flexibility. The technique is applied when gathering qualitative data in one-on-one interviews. From a Narrative Inquiry approach interview protocols are developed based upon the exploration of a research question. Each interview protocol provided consistency across a number of interviews; but also allowed for flexibility of the research participant within their respective interviews. Four different research projects are described in this manuscript which employed this technique to facilitate the documentation of research participant stories interpreting their experiences in response to the research question.
The remainder of this manuscript is organized, according to Figure 1, in the following manner. The next section presents an overview of qualitative research. Within this qualitative perspective the concepts of Grounded Theory (Glaser & Strauss, 1967; Strauss & Corbin, 1990) are presented. The presentation is then focused on Narrative Inquiry (Scholes, 1981) and the Long Interview Technique (McCracken, 1988) for conducting qualitative one-on-one interviews. At the most detailed level an interview protocol is described which has been developed for each of the example research projects. The emphasis of the example projects is on the process of gathering the appropriate data and identifying the relevant issues.