Exploring the Benefits and Challenges of E-Interviews in Qualitative Research

What Is an E-Interview Meaning?

Interviews are the dominant data collection tool in qualitative research. They can be conducted by phone, in person, or via videoconferencing.

This method allows researchers to ask questions and gather information from individuals who might not otherwise be willing or able to participate in research, such as professional public health practitioners.


The main objective of e-interviews is to provide data in the form of conversations between a researcher and participant. These conversations are often semi-structured, based on an ordered set of broad topics or themes (Doody, 2013).

In a computer-mediated interview, participants may not be able to see the researcher, so they may not feel comfortable sharing personal details and may be reluctant to disclose sensitive information. This could be problematic for some research projects.

Despite this, a number of people use computers to conduct interviews. These interviews can take many forms, including a written questionnaire and an oral question-and-answer session. Whether you’re conducting an online interview or a traditional one, it’s important to prepare so that you can ask questions that are relevant to your topic. This will help you get the most out of your e-interview. You should also make sure that you have a secure platform and a way to verify the identity of your participants.


In-depth interviews are a key tool in qualitative research and can be used to explore almost any topic. However, it is important to understand the context in which you will be using this method.

This can be particularly challenging when conducting research with vulnerable groups. It is important to avoid any social, economic or physical detriment to participants. This may include causing them to lose their job as a result of the interview or being shunned by their community because of their participation in the research.

Researchers should also be transparent about their choice of methodologies and the reasons behind them. This can help to build trust with participants and promote ethical practice. It can also make it easier for participants to engage with the research process and support its validity. This can be done by ensuring that the questions are clear and that participants are aware of how their answers will be used. This will prevent any misinterpretation of the data or distortion of its meaning.


Interviews follow a deceptively familiar logic: the researcher asks questions that allow participants to discuss their lives, opinions, fears and hopes and then responds to them1. This methodology is suited to the study of a wide range of topics and has been used by researchers studying issues as diverse as gender, education and inequality.

Using online interviews allows researchers to reach a wider range of individuals who may not be available for face-to-face research, including people in prison, those living with mental health problems and members of vulnerable communities. The ability to remain visually anonymous also encourages greater levels of self-disclosure.

The semi-structured format of the interview allows the researcher to flexibly adapt the topic guide to the discussion between participants, and they often begin with relatively easy open-ended questions (see example below). The researcher can then decide whether to explore a question in more depth or pass over it. They may also decide to record the interview and take extensive notes.


As in other qualitative interview research, it is important for researchers to engage in reflexive and ethically sensitive practices throughout the interview process. This includes reflecting on and critically analysing the interviews to consider their own assumptions, preconceptions, worldviews and own identities13.

A semi-structured interview is an ideal format for exploring participants’ experiences, accounts, perceptions and interpretations. In this way it can offer insight into a wide range of issues that may be overlooked by other research methods.

The format of the e-interview also allows for greater flexibility than face-to-face or telephone interviews in terms of time, location and access. This can benefit some participants with mobility issues or caring responsibilities who might not be able to participate in face-to-face interviews, for example. It can also reduce the discomfort researchers might feel when discussing sensitive issues with participants who are uncomfortable about sharing these concerns in a face-to-face setting71. Moreover, it may allow for a deeper exploration of issues as it allows the interview to proceed in unexpected ways that can provide rich data for analysis.

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