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The expert interview as a method of qualitative social research

©2007 Hausarbeit 31 Seiten

Zusammenfassung

The expert interview is a frequently used method in empirical social research. It is used in policy and implementation research, in industrial sociology, in elite and use research and in many areas of applied social research. The main interest in the interview is the expert knowledge, the expertise of a person (cf. Bohnsack et al. 2003, p. 57).

Against the background of the increasing use of the expert interview in nursing science, this interview form is presented as a method of qualitative social research in the first part of this paper.

A further chapter deals with the question of who can be drawn into the circle of experts for this interview form. The following chapters contain the concrete application of the expert interview as well as the evaluation of the data.

An excursus at the end of the thesis introduces the expert interview in health and care research. A critical methodological discussion of the expert interview concludes this paper.

Leseprobe

Table of contents

1 Introduction

2 The expert interview

3 Scientific and methodological foundations
3.1 Strategy and approach of empirical social research
3.2 Methodological classification of the expert interviews

4 The circle of experts for the expert interview
4.1 The expert and the expert knowledge according to Meuser and Nagel
4.1.1 Experts with operational knowledge
4.1.2 Experts with contextual knowledge
4.1.3 Experts in exploration
4.2 The expert term according to Bogner and Menz
4.2.1 The voluntarist expert concept
4.2.2 The constructivist concept of experts
4.2.3 The sociological concept of experts in the sociology of knowledge
4.3 The expert after glasses and laudel
4.3.1 The expert as a privileged person in a functional context
4.3.2 The expert as a person with special knowledge of social issues
4.4 The application of the expert interview and selection of experts
4.5 Application forms of the expert interview

5 The guideline-based expert interview as Survey method
5.1 From research question to interview guide
5.2 From the research question to select the experts
5.3 The guiding questions and guideline construction
5.4 Typing of interview questions
5.5 Guide function
5.6 Practical information on guideline construction
5.7 Data collection considerations
5.7.1 Scheduling
5.7.2 Case group selection and case size
5.8 Conducting the expert interview and the role income of the interviewers
5.9 The interview situation as a potential problem area
5.10 Notes on data evaluation

6 The expert interview in health and nursing research
6.1 Application examples of health and nursing research
6.2 Frequency of application and methodological reflection

7 Criticism of the method of expert interview
7.1 Criticism of the concept of experts and expertsknow
7.2 Other interview procedures with experts

8 Summary

9 Bibliography

1 Introduction

The expert interview is a frequently used method in empirical social research. It is used in policy and implementation research, in industrial sociology, in elite and usage research, and in many areas of applied social research. The main interest in the interview is the expert knowledge, the expertise of a person (cf. Bohnsack et al. 2003, p. 57).

Against the background of the increasing spread of expert interviews in nursing science, this form of interview is presented as a method of qualitative social research in the first part of the present term paper.

Another chapter deals with the question of who can be drawn into the circle of experts for this form of interview. The following chapters contain the concrete application of the expert interview as well as the evaluation of the data.

At the end of the work, an excursus presents the expert interview in health and nursing research. A critical methodological discussion about the expert interview forms the conclusion of the present term paper.

2 The expert interview

The expert interview is one of the most frequently used methods in empirical social research. It provides exclusive insights into expert knowledge and into structural contexts as well as change processes of action systems. The aim of the expert interview is to discover the unknown, a person's "insider knowledge" (Liebhold et al. 2005). The expert interview serves to conduct good interviews quickly and easily. This method meets with broad approval among experts (cf. Bogner et al. 2005 a, p. 7 f.).

Lamnek describes the expert interview as an investigating and informative form of interview in order to learn about knowledge. The respondent is regarded as a source of information for facts (cf. Lamnek 2005, p. 333 f.).

Expert interviews are not simple "information talks" in which knowledge and opinions are collected (cf. Bogner et al. 2005 a, p. 16). Since the experts are often not aware of the relevance of their actions, expert knowledge cannot be queried directly, but must be reconstructed from the statements of the experts. That's why the expert interview is considered a reconstructive method of investigation. The aim is the systematic reconstruction of the unconscious logic of decisions and routines in expert action (cf. Bohnsack et al. 2003, p. 58 and Gläser et al. 2004, p.11).

According to Bortz, the expert interview is classified as a variant of the qualitative individual survey. It is regarded as a collective term for open or partially assessed surveys of experts on a given area or topic (cf. Bortz 2006, p. 315).

For a long time, a standardized survey was regarded as the "royal road of practical social research", but attention to other qualitative forms of interview was low. In 1967, Scheuch reported on a form of interview that was not standardized and could be evaluated quantitatively. He calls this a kind of "special form of questioning", the so-called expert interview. He lists the advantage of this interview method because the researcher is part of the interaction in the interview and can thus design it flexibly.

Scheuch recommends using an interview guide for the conduct of this "special form of questioning" in order to deepen pre-scientific knowledge (cf. Bogner 2005 a, p. 17 f.).

In 1974, Koolwijk also understood the expert interview as a non-standardized interview method with the task of being an "investigating and informative interview", comparable to a journalistic interview that is close to everyday communication. In this way, expert interviews remain a preliminary stage to the actual research project, an instrument of exploration and not of theory generation. Therefore, the expert interview has remained a rather "marginal procedure" in the social science for many years. Only the insight into the special qualities of qualitative research since the 70s in Germany and their consolidation in the 80s, the question of the usefulness of expert interviews is no longer asked. Discussions about the expert interview today revolve around the question of inclusion and exclusion criteria and who may belong to the circle of experts surveyed. The starting point and reference point of the current discussion about the expert interview is the article by Meuser and Nagel from 1991 with the title: "Expert interviews - tried and tested, little considered". In addition, there are few other attempts to systematically justify the method of the expert interview (cf. Bogner 2005 a, pp. 17 – 20).

The expert interview is characterized by three main features:

- Respondents must be experts in a specific subject area
- the focus is on the knowledge of the respondent, there is less interest in the person and their biography
- a high degree of pragmatism in interviewing by means of guidelines and selective data evaluation (cf. Flick 2002, p. 206)

The evaluation of the expert interviews is intended to highlight the joint knowledge of the experts on a specific topic and to integrate them into theoretical discourses. It takes place in six steps:

1.Topic-oriented transcription
2. Paraphrasing
3. Thematic overview
4. thematic comparison between the interviews
5. Conceptualization and conceptualization
6. Integration into theoretical discourses (cf. Bohnsack et al. 2003, p. 58)

3 Scientific and methodological foundations

According to Meuser and Nagel, the expert interview belongs to the genuinely qualitative paradigm. However, there are contrary positions in the social sciences that describe the expert interview as belonging to quantitative social research. Today, however, the focus is less on the relevance of the disputes between the knowledge theorists, and much more on the recognition of the expert interview as an independent survey method in qualitative social research. This is by no means universally accepted in the scientific community (cf. Bogner et al. 2005 b, p. 34 f. u. Bogner et al. 2005 a, p. 19). In the following, the methodological positioning of the expert interview as an independent method is explained.

Empirical social research is divided into quantitative and qualitative social research. Behind both branches of research is a certain sociological tradition and scientific-theoretical way of thinking. The scientific-theoretical paradigm of quantitative social research is a normative paradigm, looking for objective reality. The scientific-theoretical paradigm of qualitative social research is an interpretative one.

Social reality is understood as one constructed by interpretations. All interactions between actors are here an interpretative process and not objectively predetermined (cf. Lamnek 2005, p. 34 et s.). What the adherents of both paradigms have in common is that they want to interpret social action. They use different procedures, different examination methods and different evaluation methods.

3.1 Strategy and approach of empirical social research

The strategy of quantitative social research is called a statistics-based explanatory strategy and is based on significant statistical causal relationships. It thus follows the normative paradigm. The quantitative methods describe social issues in numbers, characteristics and map them in scales. The statistics-based explanation strategy requires a large number of cases and quantifying survey methods as well as statistical evaluation methods.

The strategy of qualitative social research is to discover the causal mechanisms in social processes by investigating one or fewer cases as completely as possible. The qualitative methods follow the case-based strategy. They interpret and describe social issues and try to fully elucidate them in terms of the interpretive paradigm. The data material of qualitative survey methods from interview logs or observation protocols is initially fuzzy. Through further systematic evaluation methods such as the qualitative content analysis according to Mayring, information is extracted and processed separately from the text material.

Each scientific discipline develops its own methodology in order to achieve research success with the right choice and implementation of its methods and to obtain answers to its questions (cf. Gläser et al. 2004, pp. 21 - 30 and pp. 41 - 44).

3.2 Methodological classification of the expert interviews

The choice of a research instrument and the choice of a method for data analysis allow conclusions to be drawn about the underlying scientific paradigm. The expert interview as a reconstruction of social issues is committed to the case-based explanatory strategy and thus to the qualitative social research paradigm. A few cases are fully investigated. However, the complete degree of openness and neutrality of the interviewer according to the usual principles of qualitative social research is limited by the use of the interview guide for research-pragmatic reasons. For reasons, see the explanations in the chapter on the interview.

The expert interview can be used as an independent qualitative method in investigations. The experts are named according to the question. They open up access to insider knowledge, the unknown and implicit rules. Giving interviews with experts "... exclusive insights into structural contexts and change processes of action systems, for example into decision-making structures and problem solving of organizations and institutions. ... Expert interviews thus enable a privileged view of the problem." (Liebhold et al. 2005). If the expert interview is used to collect diagnostic and prognostic operational knowledge - the knowledge of maxims and implementation - it serves as the primary method of data gain (cf. Meuser et al. 2005 b, p. 266 f.).

The expert interview can be conducted both as an independent qualitative research method and as part of a triangulation, e.g. with the help of document analysis and observation of the research field (cf. Bohnsack et al. 2003, p. 57 u. Gläser et al. 2004, p. 102 f.). If especially the contextual knowledge of the experts is of interest with regard to certain problem situations or the expert interview is used exploratively-field-closing, it becomes an additional secondary method with a marginal position (cf. Meuser et al. 2005 b, pp. 265 - 267 u. Meuser et al. 2005 a, p. 75).

For the final analysis and evaluation of expert interviews, the qualitative content analysis according to Mayring is suitable according to Gläser and Laudel. Descriptions of social issues are systematically taken from the interview transcripts (cf. Gläser et al. 2004, p. 43 f.).

In social reporting, the evaluation strategy of Anselm Strauss is also used, in which thematically related interview passages are theoretically generalized (cf. Meuser et al. 2005 b, p. 269 f.).

4 The circle of experts for the expert interview

On the question of who now has expertise and is invited to the expert interviews, there are different views among the authors of social science. The discussion on this is being conducted at various levels. In the discussion of social and modernization theory, the expertocratization of society, the so-called expert rule over the community, is called for with the consequence of the incapacitation by these experts and elites.

In the sociological discussion of knowledge, Schütz distinguishes the expert from the man on the street and the well-informed citizen. According to Schütz, expert knowledge is clearly and distinctly available in his field, his views are based on certain assertions. Sprondel sees the expert and his expertise strongly tied to a professional role, because not every everyday knowledge of a layman is already a special knowledge and thus expert knowledge. Hitzler links expert knowledge not only to a professional role, but also to an autonomy of action. According to Hitzler, special lists are people who solve technical problems. Experts, on the other hand, have a wide range of skills, extensive and privileged knowledge of the system and are subject to little control. Meuser and Nagel recommend the development of the concept of expert along the professional role (cf. Meuser et al. 2005 b, pp. 258 – 262).

Methodologically, the discussion about experts is conducted in the focus of the respective research interest and object of investigation. In the interviews, experts act as privileged persons of the functional elite or as persons with a special knowledge advantage on social issues. Here, the expert knowledge is seen outside the professional context and the interview group also includes volunteers in social work, activists from aid organizations and citizens' initiatives. They, too, have privileged access to institutionalised knowledge. A pretest should make it clear who is able to answer the research questions exclusively (cf. Meuser et al. 2005 b, p. 262 f.).

4.1 The expert and the expert knowledge according to Meuser and Nagel

The expert is of interest as a functionary and not as a private person with his biographical history. Experts are representatives of implicit knowledge, typical problem theories, solutions and decision-making models. They do not act as experts from outside, but are themselves part of the field of action and have privileged access to information. Their knowledge, which they have acquired in an institutional context, is generated in the expert interview for a specific problem perspective.

The knowledge of the experts can be divided into operational knowledge and contextual knowledge. Both contain statements about the diagnosis and prognosis of a research object. This knowledge is not always found among experts at the top functional level of an organization, but rather at the second and third levels. Here the knowledge about structures and events is available in detail and decisions are prepared and enforced (cf. Meuser et al. 2005 a, p. 73 f. u. Meuser et al. 2005 b, p. 264 f.).

4.1.1 Experts with operational knowledge

Experts with operational knowledge are responsible and implement innovations. They form the top management of politics, business, science, justice and associations (cf. Meuser et al. 2005 a, p. 73).

In expert interviews, the structural conditions of implementations of programs are reconstructed. They cannot simply be queried, because action and structural contexts are often not clear and clear to the experts (cf. Meuser et al. 2005 b, p. 264 f. and p. 267 f.).

These experts with operational knowledge form the target group for studies of industrial sociological research, elite, implementation and professionalization research (cf. Meuser 2005 a, p. 75).

4.1.2 Experts with contextual knowledge

The contextual knowledge of experts is mainly used when it comes to problem structuring, e.g. living conditions of certain populations. This is primarily about the evaluation and assessment of certain contexts and not about the exploration of the expert's actions (cf. Meuser et al. 2005 b, p. 265). Expert interviews take place here as part of research into affected persons, social problems and inequalities. The expert interviews are a secondary source of data here, along with other methods of investigation (cf. Meuser et al. 2005 a, p. 75).

4.1.3 Experts in exploration

For the exploration of a field of investigation, the expert interview is a first important step in establishing a research design on the basis of expert knowledge (cf. Meuser et al. 2005 b, p. 266).

4.2 The expert term according to Bogner and Menz

Bogner and Menz define the concept of experts from a voluntarist, constructivist and sociological perspective.

4.2.1 The voluntarist expert concept

According to this, all people are experts in their own lives. It is about the everyday knowledge and skills for coping with everyday life. According to the voluntarist understanding, these can also be laymen. Meuser and Nagel criticize this lack of differentiation between laymen and experts. Laymen are not included in the circle of interviewees for the method of expert interview. In everyday knowledge, the overall person is of interest and therefore other methods, such as the narrative interview or problem-centered interview, are suitable. Authors such as Gläser and Laudel, as mentioned below, take a different position on this (cf. Bogner et al 2005 b, p. 39 f.).

4.2.2 The constructivist concept of experts

The role of "being an expert" is based on the attribution of expertise by the researcher. It determines the selection and the expert becomes a construct of research interest. With the mechanism of attribution of the expert role, a methodical-relational approach and a social-representational approach are pursued. The methodical-relational approach is interested in objective factual knowledge and is not only looking for experts in the top hierarchical levels of an organization. In the social-representational approach of the concept of expert, on the other hand, the particularly representative personalities and members of functional elites are meant, who are equipped with influential specialist knowledge and prestige (cf. Bogner et al. 2005 b, p. 40 f.).

4.2.3 The sociological concept of experts in the sociology of knowledge

The knowledge-sociological expert has become very important for the method of theory-generating expert interviews. The experts are scientists and have a high degree of specialist and specialist knowledge. Schütz characterizes this knowledge as special knowledge, which is related to the exercise of a profession, in contrast to general knowledge (cf. Bogner et al 2005 b, p. 41 f.).

4.3 The expert after glasses and laudel

Gläser and Laudel describe experts either as a privileged person in a functional context or as a person who has special knowledge of social issues.

4.3.1 The expert as a privileged person in a functional context

The determination of the expert is made according to Gläser and Laudel in his professionally bound special knowledge and special knowledge, in his expertise. Historically, the development of expertise is closely linked to a differentiation and professionalization of professional roles. The expert differs from the layman, who has only a general knowledge, by his socially institutionalized expertise.

"As an expert, we interview those who are characterized by an "institutionalized competence for the construction of reality"." and it "... aims at the knowledge advantage resulting from the privileged position of the expert in a functional context." (Bohnsack et al. 2003, p.57).

Experts with a special, sometimes even exclusive position within social contexts are interviewed. It can be politicians who have information about political decision-making processes or employees in companies who have information about the structure and internal processes of the company (cf. Gläser et al. 2004, p. 10).

The application of the expert interview is therefore based on a narrow expert concept.

Persons who have developed into "experts for their own lives" in their biography are excluded as interview partners. This is intended to ensure a clear separation between biography research and the method of expert interviews (cf. Bohnsack et al. 2003, p. 57).

Biography work as a reconstructive method of investigation serves self-representation, i.e. the question of how a person lives with his past and what effects it has. Social processes and circumstances may remain completely irrelevant in the representation of the situation. Biography work does not ask how it really was, but how the person perceived his life circumstances (cf. Gläser et al. 2004, p. 11).

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Details

Seiten
31
Jahr
2007
ISBN (eBook)
9783346549594
Sprache
Englisch
Institution / Hochschule
Philosophisch-Theologische Hochschule der Pallottiner Vallendar – Pflegewissenschaftliche Fakultät
Erscheinungsdatum
2021 (Dezember)
Note
2,0
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Titel: The expert interview as a method of qualitative social research