Only Second Best? Interview Reports as a Method of Documenting Qualitative Interviews

Dita Vogel, Barbara Johanna Funck


Qualitative interviews should be audio recorded and transcribed word by word. This is what most methodology texts recommend. Taking interview reports as a means of interview documentation is typically described as a second-best solution if audio recording is not possible. In this contribution, we question this position on the basis of theoretical considerations and research experiences.

Advantages and disadvantages of "audio recording + transcription" versus "minute-taking + reporting" are systematically compared. Two studies are presented as exemplary cases in which interview reports have been chosen as the most suitable means of interview documentation. In both studies, interviews dealt with sensitive topics and aimed at reconstructing routines and procedures.

Generally, reports can be adequate when researchers are less interested in the interpretation of what was exactly said and more interested in what interviewees intended to say. In addition, minute-taking should be considered if audio recording could prevent the participation of particularly interesting interviewees or if it could prevent an open conversation. With this contribution, we aim at stimulating further debate about when interview reports are appropriate and how they should be designed.


interviewing; transcription; recording; minutes; interview reports; qualitative interview; undocumented migration


Copyright (c) 2017 Dita Vogel, Barbara Johanna Funck

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