Disruptions and Detours – Methodological Challenges and Opportunities of Interaction Effects in Qualitative Interviews with Young Researchers

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 09:15
Location: Hörsaal 48 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Oliver BERLI, University of Cologne, Germany
Interviewing scientists about their careers, biographies and future aspirations is full of methodological challenges. In our empirical research project “Trust and young researchers” funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) we follow a mixed method design to investigate careers of scientist in Germany with a special analytical focus on the relevance of trust (e.g. in the relation between PhD students and their supervisors). In contrast to higher education research that tends to discuss scientific careers in terms of performance indicators, such as publication output, our research focuses on the scientists themselves and the logics of the academic field. Therefore our project includes qualitative interviews on job biographies of up-and-coming researchers in different disciplines and career stages.

In qualitative research methodology interviews are considered as dynamic and social situations. Of course, interaction effects need to be taken into consideration when analyzing the interviews. But in contrast to the discussions in quantitative research we do not intend to “control” interaction effects in our qualitative interviews. Instead we argue that disruptions and detours in interview situations should be considered as chances for additional insights. For instance, there are cases when our interviewees turn the table and interview us about our own careers in science. What can we learn from these instances? Also we have to explore the question what effects can be observed in regard to the hierarchical positions of interviewer as well as interviewee. To sum it up: our presentation explores questions of interaction effects in qualitative interviews. In other words, we want to discuss methodologically how to think about interviewing (young) scientists while you are one ofthem.