How do you incorporate an interview into a dissertation?

You have performed qualitative research for your dissertation by conducting interviews that you now want to include: how do you do that? Chances are that this was never explained to you and you don’t know what is expected. That’s why in this article we describe how interviews can be included in for instance the conclusion section of your dissertation and how they can be referenced.

Including interviews in your dissertation

To present interviews in a dissertation, you first need to transcribe them. You can then add the written interviews to the appendix. If you have many or long interviews that make the appendix extremely large, the appendix (after consultation with the supervisor) can be submitted as a separate document. What matters is that you can demonstrate that the interviews have actually taken place.

Referring to interviews

When you have added the interviews to the appendix, you can then paraphrase to them in your dissertation. Paraphrase is done as follows:

Example: Reference to your own interview

According to interviewee X (Appendix 1), the …

It became clear from an interview with Y that … (Appendix 1).

Sometimes you are not allowed to ad the transcription of an interview to the appendix. In this case it is not possible to refer to this interview. According to the APA-rules it is possible to refer to it like this:

Example: Reference to your interview that’s not in the appendix

According to X (Personal communication, December 24, 2012) …

Rules APA style for your interview

Quoting from interviews

If you literally copy the words of the interviewee, then you need to quote. Finding interesting quotes is easier if you know how to get usable information out of the person during the interview. That’s why you should conduct the interviews in a professional manner.

Mentioning the name of the interviewee

Don’t just blindly note the name of the person you’re interviewing, but ask yourself two questions:

  1. Are you allowed to mention the name? This is the first question you should ask yourself before you include the interviewee’s name in a dissertation. Determine, in consultation with the interviewee, whether the name may be mentioned. Sometimes, in fact, the interviewee doesn’t want that. This may be the case when you have interviewed, for example, an employee and the employee does not want his or her boss to be able to read the answers because this could disturb their working relationship. Another situation where this can occur is, for example, when the interview contains very personal questions.
  2. Does it add anything to mention the name? The second factor to consider is whether it is relevant to mention the name. Does it add anything to your research? When the interviewee is an unknown person you have approached on the street, the name of this person is not very important. But if you have interviewed the CEO of a large organization, then it can be very relevant to mention his or her name. In this second case, add a short introduction so that the reader of the dissertation knows immediately who this person is.

Thus, you may mention the name if you have permission from the interviewee to do so and if it is relevant to the research. If you don’t have permission to use the name or if you don’t want to mention the name, you can then choose to use a description. For example: “Employee 1”.

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Bas Swaen

Bas is co-founder of Scribbr. Bas loves to teach and is an experienced thesis writer. He tries to help students with writing clear and easy to comprehend articles about difficult topics.

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