Is discussion among participants after an interview necessarily negative for a study?


ANSWER MUST BE 205+ WORDS PLUS REFERENCEIt is impossible to interview all participants in a study
simultaneously. They almost always have the opportunity to discuss the
interview contents with persons not yet interviewed. Is all influence of
such discussions necessarily negative? Why or why not? What is the most
effective way for researchers to minimize this influence? Why?


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Qualitative research is a valuable tool for gathering data in social sciences. One common method of data collection is through interviewing participants. However, it is challenging to ensure that all participants in a study are interviewed simultaneously. This may lead to participants discussing the interview contents with others who have not yet been interviewed, which can impact the interview results. Researchers often question if these discussions have negative influences on the study. This essay aims to explore if all influences of such discussions are negative and what researchers can do to minimize their influence.


Maintaining the integrity of the data collected is crucial in any research. In qualitative research, it is essential to ensure that participants’ responses are not influenced by external factors. One such factor is discussions between participants concerning the interview contents. Previous research suggests that participants discussing the interview contents might impact the interview results and skew the data collected. However, the impact of these discussions might not always be negative. In some cases, discussions between participants may bring in different perspectives and enhance the data collected.

To minimize the impact of these discussions, researchers typically have several strategies. These include providing little to no information about the interview content and using strict confidentiality agreements to ensure the participants do not discuss the contents of the interview. Researchers may also choose to interview participants separately in a short amount of time to reduce the chance of discussions between participants. However, researchers need to consider the trade-off between the cost and efficiency of implementing these strategies against ensuring the accuracy of the data collected.

In conclusion, the discussions between participants concerning interview contents have the potential to impact the interview results negatively or positively. Careful consideration and effective strategies by researchers can reduce the likelihood of this negative impact and, in some instances, even enhance the data collected.


Maxwell, J.A. (2013). Qualitative research design: An interactive approach (3rd ed.). SAGE Publications.


In qualitative research, conducting interviews is an essential method used to obtain participants’ data to answer research questions. It is a sensitive and complicated process, and issues like participant discussions can affect the research. The purpose of this article is to explore the influence of interview content discussions on qualitative research and the most effective ways to minimize this influence.


The objectives of this article are to:

1. Understand the potential negative influence of participant discussions on interview content in qualitative research.

2. Examine whether all influences of discussions are negative or whether they can also positively impact research.

3. Identify the most effective ways that researchers can minimize the influence of participant discussions.

Learning Outcomes:

After reading this article, readers should be able to:

1. Interpret the potential effects of participant discussion on interview content and its consequences on research outcomes.

2. Analyze whether all influences of discussions are negative or whether they can also positively impact research.

3. Evaluate the best practices that researchers can use to minimize the influence of participant discussions in qualitative research.


Participant discussions can have a significant influence on the interview content in qualitative research. These discussions may introduce biases, leading to the distortion of results. Interviews that are open-ended in nature can result in participants discussing interview questions with family or friends and changing their initial opinions. For instance, a respondent may change their opinion after discussing the context of an interview question with a friend. This change of opinion may result in biased results that don’t reflect the participant’s true intentions.

However, not all influences of discussions on research are negative. Participants can use their discussions based on interview content to clarify misunderstandings and provide additional insights, potentially improving the accuracy of the data collected. Researchers can also benefit from gathering data from these discussions. Examining participants’ additional thoughts can improve the researchers’ understanding of the study’s subject and increase the validity of the results.

The most effective way for researchers to minimize the influence of participant discussions is by using a rigorous interviewing technique. Researchers can establish rapport with participants and emphasize the importance of not discussing their interview with others. Researchers can also use methodological triangulation, a process where they use multiple data collection methods, including interviews and surveys, to cross-validate their results.


In summary, participant discussions can influence the interview content in qualitative research positively or negatively. Researchers must identify the most effective ways to minimize the influence using rigorous interviewing techniques and establishing rapport with participants. By taking these measures, researchers can improve the accuracy and validity of their research outcomes.


Bergman, M. M. (2011). Advances in mixed methods research: Theories and applications. Sage publications.

Solution 1: Possible Positive Influence of Participant Discussions

The idea that discussing interview contents with non-interviewed peers could only result in negative influence is simplistic and not conclusive. Rather, discussion could have both positive and negative impacts on the interview contents. For instance, study participants’ discussions could lead to the identification of questionable opinions or poorly understood issues that interviewees may not have mentioned to the researcher. In this sense, group discussions or peer review could improve the reliability of data and decrease individual biases.

Moreover, group discussions could enrich the quality of interview data by providing complementary perspectives and insights. This could help researchers to unravel the intricacies of a particular phenomenon and obtain a more comprehensive understanding of the issues being researched. Besides, group discussion could increase participants’ motivation to contribute to the study’s goals, which is crucial in generating useful data.

Solution 2: Minimizing Negative Influence of Participant Discussions

Researchers can take various measures to minimize the negative influence of participant discussions on interview contents. One recommendation from (Allen and Cromer (2007) is to inform participants about the importance of not sharing information with others until the entire study is completed. Additionally, this approach applies to survey studies that are completed in phases. It helps to keep participants from discussing the survey information with peers who have not yet completed their study phases.

Another strategy is to design interview questions that do not allow significant room for participant interpretation. This will hence minimize the occurrence of differences in participant reactions to the interview questions. Limiting an interviewees’ bias by minimizing the number of preconceived ideas about a research study allows the interviewer to get an unbiased opinion from a participant. Visualization aids as a tool may also be used to clarify and unify participant opinion.

In conclusion, researchers must recognize the potential influence of participant discussions on interview contents in any study. A balanced and comprehensive view of the possible positive or negative influence of discussions can make research findings more robust. Researchers should take proactive measures to minimize the negative influence of discussions. These may include informing participants of the importance of keeping information confidential, designing interview questions that do not allow significant room for interpretation, and other tools such as visualization to prevent biased opinions.

Suggested Resources/Books:
1. “The Handbook of Social Research Ethics” by Donna M. Mertens and Pauline E. Ginsberg.
2. “Interviewing for Qualitative Inquiry: A Relational Approach” by Ruthellen Josselson.
3. “Qualitative Research: A Guide to Design and Implementation,” by Sharan B. Merriam and Elizabeth J. Tisdell.
4. “Conducting Research Surveys” by Lesley Andres and James C. Coyne.
5. “Research Methods in Education” by Louis Cohen, Lawrence Manion and Keith Morrison.

Similar Asked Questions:
1. What are some methods researchers can use to increase the likelihood of obtaining accurate information during interviews?
2. How can the presence of a researcher influence the responses given by study participants?
3. What ethical considerations should researchers keep in mind when conducting interviews with study participants?
4. How can researchers minimize potential biases that may affect the accuracy of data collected during interviews?
5. What are some common challenges researchers may face when conducting interviews and how can they overcome them?


When participants are interviewed for a study, it is almost inevitable that they will discuss the contents of the interview with others who haven’t yet been interviewed. While it is generally understood that discussions can influence participants’ responses, not all influence is negative. In some instances, study participants may discuss the interview in question with others who can provide valuable insight, leading to a more comprehensive understanding of a particular issue.

However, it is still important for researchers to take steps to minimize any negative influence that may occur due to these discussions. A few potential strategies might be to: provide clear instructions about the importance of confidentiality and the potential negative effects of discussing the interview contents with others, follow-up with participants to get a sense of how their previous discussions may have affected their responses, and consider conducting follow-up interviews with those who may have been influenced.

Ultimately, the most effective way for researchers to minimize the potential negative impact of such discussions will depend on the specific study and the participants involved. Researchers should be aware of the potential for influence, and strive to find ways to ensure the accuracy and reliability of their data.

Andres, L. & Coyne, J. C. (2011). Conducting Research Surveys (2nd Edition). Don Mills, ON: Oxford University Press.
Cohen, L., Manion, L. & Morrison, K. (2018). Research Methods in Education (8th Edition). Abingdon, UK: Routledge.
Josselson, R. (2013). Interviewing for Qualitative Inquiry: A Relational Approach. New York, NY: The Guilford Press.
Merriam, S. B. & Tisdell, E. J. (2016). Qualitative Research: A Guide to Design and Implementation (4th Edition). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Mertens, D. M. & Ginsberg, P. E. (Eds.). (2009). The Handbook of Social Research Ethics. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.

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