The Study Dude – The Cream of the Quotes

Study-Tips from a Semi-Anonymous Friend

There is nothing more that The Study Dude wants for you than to report on your fantastic findings.

Well, in these articles, as The Study Dude, I’ll try to give you the study tips you need to help make your learning easier. I’ll also give you straight and honest opinions and personal anecdotes?even the embarrassing ones that you wouldn’t ever dare read about from any other study tip guru.

This week’s Study Dude further explores InterViews: Learning the Craft of Qualitative Research Interviewing by Svend Brinkmann and Steinar Kvale. They show you how to use quotes in your interview research and how to report your findings.

How to Dazzle with (Interview) Quotes
Your best quotes, if from an interview, should represent the interviewee’s views, according to Brinkmann and Kvale. And your best quotes from a book should represent the author’s views.

That seems obvious. But if you are an undergrad, your attempts at accurately representing a highbrow author’s view might leave you crying. You see, a directed study can feel like a mini-thesis, and the authors you cite might write cryptically, like the mind-boggling Bourdieu or sand-throwing Camille Paglia. They say a lot, but say little. And to understand them, you need to burn 90% of what they write.

So, as an undergraduate student, I faced the task of writing a directed study using graduate level books. I did what came naturally: I cherry picked quotes. And the quotes that supported what I hoped to say didn’t represent what the authors’ intended to say.

So what’s a dude to do?

Brinkmann and Kvale have lots of suggestions on how to dazzle them with interview quotes:
– The quotes you use should connect the lived world reports of interviewees with your theoretical model.
– When you use a quote in your report, give context such as the question asked that led to the particular quote.
– Make sure you put your own spin on the quotes. Interpret what the quote supports, disconfirms, or advances.
– Don’t just change up the wording of the quote when introducing it. Interpret the significance of the quote. Add something new.
– When you write up your reports, make sure the quotes take up less than half the space. Your interpretations and comments should take up at least the other half.
– Don’t cite a quote for more than half-a-page. If you have an extra long quote, split it up with your comments and interpretations sprinkled in between.
– Use the best quotes: the ones that succinctly say the most. If other interviewees say the same thing, then document how many do.
– Make your interviewee’s comments read like text from a book. Take out unnecessary sighs or grunts, for instance. We don’t need to hear those. Really, we don’t.
– Change up names and location so that you maintain the anonymity of your interviewee.

Reporting (Interviews) the Right Ways
Numerous ways for reporting interview results exist, which we will soon cover. But, first, I want to fill you in on a fun way to report interviews: with collages.

If you have an artistic streak, or fancy yourself a Warhol wannabe, then collages might serve you well. As a disclaimer, make sure that your professor allows for creative projects or collages in your essays. If your professor wants the traditional dull essay, then, by all means, don’t deviate. But, if your professor encourages creativity, then propose a collage-style report.

A collage-style report uses multiple types of reporting devices. Brinkmann and Kvale show an example of a collage report that mixes together fact boxes, journal reflections from the authors, and interview quotes.

I believe you can add most anything: photographs, charts, infographics, cartoons, scans of newspaper clippings, historical timelines. Why not? If you love creativity, then suggest a collage, but only if each piece advances your main idea and each piece continues its thread somewhere else in the report.

So, before you run off to email your professor, Brinkmann and Kvale provide a list of different ways, including collages, to report your interview findings:
– Reports can be made in the style of journalistic interviews. You can ask questions to the interviewee during the interview that reflect your unfolding interpretation. You can also interpret comments during an interview and ask the interviewee whether you got it right or not. Use first person when reporting. Notice verbal and nonverbal communications; in other words, get the details. Capture the conversation as well as your personal impressions within your report. Try to pragmatically create change.
– Reports can take the form of a dialogue style. Socrates argumentation reflects what dialogue style sounds like. Dialogue style seems more confrontational, usually aimed at a compromise on truth.
– Reports can be made in therapeutic style. Although writing up therapy communications proves tough, try to use anecdotes, narratives, and metaphors to drive home your message. Therapeutic styles are less confrontational and more agreeable.
– Or they can involve a narrative style. Try to get your interviewee to engage in detailed story-telling. Ask for clarity on things like brand names, times of day, sceneries, and other specifics. Then take the interviewee’s stories and weave them together in a common thread or multiple threads. You can shift around the stories so that they better communicate what you, the researcher, want to say.
– Reports can also be made in metaphor style. Use figures of speech such as metaphors, symbols, and allusions. Try to state your big ideas in the form of metaphors. Metaphors often arise in psychoanalytic interviews where the subconscious-realm and dreams come into play.
– Visuals can also be used for reports. You can use a graph that includes your main idea on one side and arrows pointing to sub-ideas on the other side. NVivo qualitative software produces such diagrams as well as others. You can take your data and connect them to your conclusions, according to Dahler-Larsen (as cited in Brinkmann and Kvale). You can also connect your key themes with arrows to show relationships or make matrices depicting your data, says Dahler-Larsen. When putting the data in visuals, make sure you use original interview quotes and not just your interpretations. To aid in transparency, inform your reader why you chose the particular quotes for your visuals.
– Last but not least, reports can be made through collages. You can include elements such as commentary, auto-biographies, your theoretical model, and reflections.

So, there’s nothing to fear. The Study Dude is determined to make right for you all the wrongs I made in grad school?one A+ at a time.

Brinkman, Svend, & Kvale, Steinar. (2015). InterViews: Learning the Craft of Qualitative Research Interviewing. Los Angeles: Sage.

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