Welcome to Part 3 of the 3-part series: Everything You Need to Know about Key Informant Interviews. Be sure to check out 6 Tips for Planning Successful Key Informant Interviews and How to Conduct a Successful Key Informant Interview before you read this post.
By this point, you have planned and conducted your key informant interviews. Now it’s time to gather all your notes and audio recordings to discover the stories behind your results. This post will provide tips on compiling, analyzing, and sharing the results of your interviews. Once you’ve analyzed your data, you’ll have an idea of what your informants collectively think about the community problem your interviews addressed.
THINK BACK TO YOUR GOAL & PURPOSE
Before you jump into organizing data, think back to your purpose for conducting key informant interviews. You decided to use this tool to gather information about a community issue from informed community leaders. Your results should explain community members’ perceptions and beliefs on the issue you were exploring.
Keep your purpose in mind as you begin reviewing your data. This will help you quickly identify the most important and relevant information your key informants shared. This will be especially helpful when you’re reviewing those interviews that got off track!
ORGANIZE & TRANSCRIBE THE DATA
Gather your notes and audio recordings from the interviews. Ensure your notes are legible and organized so you can reference important points or a specific informant’s responses in the future. If your notes are handwritten, you may want to type them in a word processing document to make your data analysis easier. Alternately, make multiple copies of your notes so you can add comments, highlights, etc. when you begin analyzing the data. Additionally, it will be helpful to summarize lengthy notes from your interviews in a separate document. This will help you more easily identify interview themes.
If you need a written record of the audio recordings, you’ll need to transcribe your audio files. You can either pay a professional transcription service or transcribe the files yourself. If you’re transcribing your own files, write or type exactly what you hear so the stories are not changed.
Once your notes are organized and audio files are transcribed, read back through all the data. As you’re reviewing, some common themes, or categories, should emerge. Take note of these themes.
If others also conducted interviews, ask them to add the themes that surfaced during their interviews to your list. For example, if you studied the decline of physical activity among youth in your community, you may notice that lack of infrastructure, safety concerns, and increased crime rates were common themes related to the reasons youth aren’t physically active. Trust your data as it will show common themes among all the interviews.
ANALYZE & SUMMARIZE THE DATA
Analyzing and summarizing your data are necessary to determine if and how the interviews answered your question(s). This step will also help you communicate your findings within your organization and community.
The simplest way to analyze your data is to go through your notes and/or audio transcriptions and categorize each informant’s responses by theme. This process will allow you to determine how often informants referenced a specific theme. You’ll also be able to use your categorized responses to find powerful quotes to use in your interview summaries.
Here’s an example of what a categorized list of responses might look like:
- Theme: Youth aren’t physically active in our community because of increased crime rates.
- Respondent 1: “I’ve been living here for 25 years. I used to see kids in the streets, playing, riding their bikes. Since those two shootings happened, I don’t see kids anymore. I guess now their parents make them stay inside, worried they’ll get shot too.”
- Respondent 2: “You know, my nephew, he’s only 11 years old, he was robbed a few weeks ago. He only had a cheap wallet and $10 on him but they still robbed him. He’s only a kid. My sister won’t even let him leave the driveway now.”
Once you’ve categorized all your responses, you can begin to summarize the results. Your summary might include:
- The most common themes that emerged throughout your interviews.
- The most common themes that emerged for each interview question.
- Any differences in responses based on demographics (e.g., age, gender, time living in community, position in community).
- Specific quotes or responses that support the problem(s) being addressed.
- An overall summary that captures your community members’ thoughts, beliefs, and recommendations.
It’s important to identify limitations that may have impacted your results or conclusions. Some limitations to consider when conducting key informant interviews include:
- It may be difficult to tell how reliable a person’s responses are. People may not quite understand your questions, may have unique opinions about a topic, or may simply tell you what they think you want to hear.
- The informants’ responses may vary greatly due to confusing questions, poor interview skills, or lack of participant knowledge about the topic. You can avoid these issues by thoroughly planning your interviews.
- Analyzing qualitative data can be hard! If you don’t have staff or volunteers who can analyze your data, hire an external evaluator to consolidate, analyze, and summarize your data.
- Bias may occur if the interviewers or data analysts know or work closely with your key informants. Avoid bias by working with a diverse set of trained, objective interviewers and analysts.
SHARE THE DATA
Sharing your results is the most exciting part! Instead of writing a lengthy report, use visual data representations such as diagrams or infographics to present and summarize key findings. These techniques will allow your partners and community members to easily see connections among themes. Using data visualizations will also make it more likely that your community members will share the results of your interviews.
You might also want to share your results through:
- A one-pager to share with partners, community members, or elected officials.
- Social media posts that highlight major findings.
- Formal community meetings to provide more details on your findings.
Sharing your results is a great way to share resources. It will benefit your organization, engage partners, and encourage collaboration within the community. Sharing your results is also an important step as you build upon the work of others. Most importantly, widely disseminated information can lead to more informed community decision-making regarding funding, programs, and policy changes.
We’ve covered a lot in our 3-part series on key informant interviews! I hope by now you feel comfortable planning, conducting, and analyzing key informant interviews.
Until next time!