Paying for Interviews?

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Paying for Interviews?

Post by Niels on Sun Mar 06, 2011 12:30 pm

Hey guys,

Just wanted to have your opinion on the following:

I have already held several interviews and I've got lots of appointments for even more interviews (e.g. Department of Justice, Department of Agriculture, detained NPA rebels, former NPA rebels, Party members in congress, etc.). When interviewing normal people (i.e. not organizations or politicians) do you think it is ethical to pay these people for their time? I know this can harm your interview since the person perhaps feels obliged to tell the things he thinks you want to hear, but sometimes it just feels wrong not to give them anything in return. After all, they 'waste' their time on you, even though they could also spend their time for better purposes...

What do you think: if you interview normal people -especially when you interview them more than once- can you pay them (or take them out for dinner, etc.) for their time? I haven't paid people yet for their time, since I first want to know what you guys think.

Just curious, ciao
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Re: Paying for Interviews?

Post by Davey on Mon Mar 07, 2011 3:49 pm

Nah, i just talked to my sister about this who is a reporter for American public radio. People dont generally expect some type of return for doing interviews, so I don tsee a reason the would expect any from you. People usually agree to interviews because most often than not they have something that they want to say. obviously you dont want to make the person feel like theyre being used for their time, but nah, unless youre interviewing like really poor people that really want it, I dont think you need to pay. To me a generally courtesy would be to pay for lunch or something. but hell i guess thats just my opinion.
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Re: Paying for Interviews?

Post by Broccoli on Mon Mar 07, 2011 4:19 pm

No, you don't need to pay people for interviews. Also, if word gets out that you are paying people, you'll have a whole queue of people waiting at your door to sell you "information." Conversely, if someone sees you paying an individual, rumours might begin circulating that the person you interviewed is an "informant." Than can get the person in some trouble.

As Davey suggests, if you want to show your appreciation, take them out for a meal. In Peru, I interviewed a woman two years ago who had previously been in prison. My contacts arranged a late-evening meeting with her (so neighbours couldn't see us arriving). I prepared in the afternoon by buying her a month's worth of groceries, which was much appreciated because she was rather poor.

So, either show your appreciation in the form of a meal or some groceries. Alternatively, if you wish to get rid of some local currency before returning to Europe, you can make a gift of the cash to the children of the person you just interviewed--"for the child's future education costs." you can say.



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Re: Paying for Interviews?

Post by Alicia on Tue Mar 08, 2011 1:07 pm

I am currently dealing with a similar problem. I met a person who is very relevant to my research. However, he does not only expects payment for an interview, he actually demands it (as soon as the word interview was mentioned, the money issue was mentioned by him). Without money, he won't give an interview. I've tried other options, such as taking him out for dinner etc, but he only accepts cold hard cash. I have already been able to get information from him, but to gain certain very relevant information, I will need an interview. As he knows that I do research, he refuses to answer certain questions in detail, unless I pay. I'm kind of unsure about what to do. I don't want to pay money for the interview (certainly not the amount that he insists on), but I also feel that the information the could give me would be very valuable, as he has worked there for 26 years and has actually helped make the museum. Any tips from anyone?

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Re: Paying for Interviews?

Post by Broccoli on Tue Mar 08, 2011 3:49 pm

If you believe that someone's information is CRUCIALLY important, then pay him or her.

We can't always be idealistic if we want information. In my own research experience, I paid an informant once. He was a founding commander of the organisation I was studying, so he was, indeed, a key figure.

Question is, can you afford it? Negotiate a price. You can play hard ball with negotiating your price because he probably needs your cash more than you need his info. Show him beforehand a list of questions you intend to ask him, and make sure beforehand that he can answer all your questions. Your questions to him should be based on his FIRST-HAND experience, and not just on his opinion or interpretation of general events or social processes (you can ask anybody for opinion and interpretation, for free!).

Before interviewing him and parting with your hard-earned money, think hard about whether the information he has is really exclusive to his unique, personal experiences. Again, think about perspective: whose point of view you are interested in knowing? Is it the point of view of people like him, or another category of people? Go back to your puzzle statement, and see where his story would fit to fill a gap within the larger puzzle of your research.




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Re: Paying for Interviews?

Post by Davey on Wed Mar 09, 2011 5:47 pm

WHOA! Alicias comment took me right from left field! I dont really know what to say alicia. My only judgement would be to trust yours really.
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Re: Paying for Interviews?

Post by Alicia on Wed Mar 09, 2011 6:13 pm

I was really surprised by this as well. Also, he was the first person I asked for an interview, so it didn't feel like a good start and it slightly demotivated me. However, I've had some more time to think about it now, and I've thought of ways to avoid this problem in the future, so I guess it was a good learning experience.


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Re: Paying for Interviews?

Post by Broccoli on Thu Mar 10, 2011 1:33 am

Alicia wrote: I've thought of ways to avoid this problem in the future, so I guess it was a good learning experience.

So, share the wisdom. What ways did you think up to avoid this problem in the future? bounce

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