How do I…

collect high-quality interview data for my Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) research study?

Do you want to…?

Feel more confident about your ability to gather high-quality interview data

Reduce uncertainty around how to plan and manage your semi-structured interviews (SSIs)

Diminish discomfort over your interviewing technique with the knowhow for improvement

Of course, my main recommendation for excelling in this area of your project is to attend my Supercharge Your Semi-Structured Interviewing workshop (obvs)

This is so that I can coach you in the dark art of interviewing for your IPA and pass on my hard-won wisdom around how to:

~ generate a good quality interview schedule

~ plan and prepare for your interviews (including the whys and wherefores of doing a pilot)

~ manage your interviews effectively on the day

~ mine the interaction for the best experiential depth that you can achieve

This is one that you really cannot afford to miss…

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High-quality interview data for your IPA study is really non-negotiable

The importance of gathering high-quality interview data for your IPA study is not to be underestimated.

IPA analysis is by its very nature interpretative (the clue is in the name 😉), and to develop our interpretations to a sufficient level of depth, we require data that is amenable to this

You cannot make a silk purse from a sow’s ear, or as Professor Smith often states about IPA data and analysis, ‘garbage in, garbage out’

This rather brutal statement highlights the importance of constructing a good quality interview schedule and making the effort to develop (and polish) your interviewing skills before entering the data collection phase. A high-quality interview will produce data with more depth, and ultimately this will be easier to analyse and write up

Semi-Structured Interviews are the ubiquitous data collection method for IPA

The ubiquitous data collection method for IPA tends to be semi-structured interviewing (SSI), although other data collection methods are available!

The analysis of SSI data in IPA allows us to uncover the meaning of phenomena from participants’ accounts of the phenomena. As such, it is important to be aware that SSIs for an IPA are conducted in a particular, participant-led way, where the respondent sets the parameters of the topic rather than the interviewer. In other words, we want to offer the participant the space to talk about what has significance for them, rather than what we think may be significant for them

So, SSIs for IPA are very much participant-led with a particular emphasis on achieving experiential depth in the respondent’s account via an in-depth exploration of their experience

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Developing good IPA interviewing skills requires training and takes practice

Smith (2011) outlines that ‘Interviewing is a critical part of the [IPA] process and it can require considerable time to develop expertise’ (p. 23)

In my experience, many novice IPA researchers underestimate the level of preparation required to develop good interviewing skills – conducting good quality SSIs requires training, practice, and supervision. I would therefore encourage any student doing an IPA study to prioritise this area as non-negotiable in preparation for the data collection phase of their research

Reference: Smith, J.A. (2011). Evaluating the contribution of interpretative phenomenological analysis. Health Psychology Review, 5, 9-27.

Get support with developing your IPA interviewing skills

If you are looking for high-quality supplemental training for this essential requirement of your research journey – gathering high-quality semi-structured interview data – then I would love to coach you to ninja-level skillfulness in preparing for and executing your IPA interviews! Join me for my Supercharge Your Semi-Structured Interviewing workshop

This session is delivered in a small group setting where you can benefit from exercises that focus on both the development of a good quality interview schedule AND how to mine your interviews for premium participant-led data

Dr. Elena is an excellent teacher and presenter and I look forward to more of her work. She gives way above and beyond and provides highly excellent and well prepared and effective information


Advanced IPA Data Analysis, September 2021

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Dive into articles that discuss many aspects of interviewing for your Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) research study, plus the answers to frequently asked questions in this area

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The information contained on this website and this webpage is provided for information and guidance purposes only and is based on Dr Elena GR’s experience in teaching, conducting, and supervising IPA research projects

The contents are intended for information and guidance purposes only and are not meant to replace or supersede your supervisory advice/guidance or institutional and programme requirements. It is not intended to be the sole source of information or guidance upon which you rely for your research study

You must obtain supervisory and institutional advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of my guidance and/or materials

Dr GR disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed upon any of the contents of my website or associated materials

Finally, please note that use of my materials does not guarantee any particular grade for your work