An exploration of the paired peer interview in professional life (hi)story research.

Year: 2012

Author: Gunn, Alexandra

Type of paper: Abstract refereed


The paired peer interview is a novel research method for the social sciences.  Having developed the method as a pragmatic response to data collection in the context of a study of progress within Aotearoa New Zealand early childhood education (Gunn, Lockie & Skerrett, 2010), this paper seeks to theorize the approach and to consider its place in the milieu of interview and narrative practices.  Specifically in this paper, I compare the practice and transcripts of paired peer interviewing with practices and transcripts of semi-structured open-ended interviews.  In doing so I test my hypothesis that the paired peer interview was a qualitatively different and useful approach to the production of data in the social research setting.


Method/Results: Content analysis and conversational analysis of transcripts produced in two interview types are considered for similarities and differences in the data they produced.  The analysis is underway so results are not yet available for reporting.

Discussion/conclusion: Conceptually and methodologically the project was qualitative and interpretive and consistent with kaupapa Maori research principles (Bishop, 2008; McFarlane, 2007; Smith, 1999/2006).  Data gathering occurred at a 2-day residential hui where participants were brought together to engage in the production of microhistories through collaborative storying methods (Brown, 2003; Levi, 1991; Magnusson, 2006).  One of the methods, the paired peer interview was developed to address the specific needs of data gathering in the project.

Pragmatists tend to emphasise the research problem and to focus on the range of approaches to help understand the problem (Cresswell, 2009) rather than fixing to any single method or methodological position for a given piece of work.  The paired peer interview method presented a workable solution to data gathering in a project where access to participants was constrained by time, place and people resources.  This paper discusses problems and successes of the pair peered interview method and seeks to place it, within the range of possible interview methods within the social sciences.