Researching the researcher-as-instrument: An exercise in interviewer self-reflexivity

Anne E. Pezalla, Jonathan Pettigrew, Michelle Miller-Day

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

134 Scopus citations


Because the researcher is the instrument in semistructured or unstructured qualitative interviews, unique researcher characteristics have the potential to influence the collection of empirical materials. This concept, although widely acknowledged, has garnered little systematic investigation. This article discusses the interviewer characteristics of three different interviewers who are part of a qualitative research team. The researcher/interviewers - and authors of this article - reflect on their own and each other's interviews and explore the ways in which individual interview practices create unique conversational spaces. The results suggest that certain interviewer characteristics may be more effective than others in eliciting detailed narratives from respondents depending on the perceived sensitivity of the topic, but that variation in interviewer characteristics may benefit rather than detract from the goals of team-based qualitative inquiry. The authors call for the inclusion of enhanced self-reflexivity in interviewer training and development activities and argue against standardization of interviewer practices in qualitative research teams.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)165-185
Number of pages21
JournalQualitative Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • interviewing
  • qualitative research
  • researcher as instrument
  • researcher reflexivity
  • team-based research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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