Semi Structured Interviews (CAN9)

CAN you remember?

Long term listeners to the St Emlyn’s podcast may remember our series entitled ‘Critical Appraisal Nuggets’ (CANs). We are absolutely delighted to reinvigorate this project under the leadership of Professor Rick Body, with the episode on semi structured interviews.

In this easily digestible and succinct podcast Rick and Laura Howard go through the pros and cons of setting up semi structured interviews and how these can be used effectively in qualitative research.

In these short episodes, we will go over different aspects of critical appraisal in an easily digestible way. These will then be aggregated in a permanent reference page on the website so they can be easily accessed. We recognise that this forms an important part of post graduate exams and so will aim to cover over time all the key topics that could be tested in FRCEM exams.

Semi Structured Interviews

In the latest episode, we cover a qualitative research technique: semi-structured interviews. Qualitative research might be out of your comfort zone: we’re generally more comfortable with quantitative measures – numbers and statistics. It’s something they have experience with, having previously published a paper exploring the impact of events that happen at work on the wellbeing of emergency physicians. This was a labour of love for Laura. Laura wrote a powerful blog about it here.

Semi-structured interviews are a great way to get the really rich data we need to understand something in greater depth. They allow us to ask ‘why?’ as well as just ‘what?’, ‘who?’ and ‘when?’. But reading qualitative research papers can be difficult when it takes us out of our comfort zone. In this CAN podcast, Laura and Rick take us through what semi-structured interviews are, why we might use them, how you design and conduct them, and they also have some pearls of wisdom about how to make transcribing them a lot less painful. By the end, we hope that you’ll feel confident with the basics of the technique. And if you want to practice your critical appraisal, why not put their study under the microscope?

We have published the podcasts through iTunes and Spotify.

Previous CANs

Further reading

Cite this article as: Iain Beardsell, "Semi Structured Interviews (CAN9)," in St.Emlyn's, February 27, 2023,

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