Methodology for Analyzing Interview Data

I’d like to blog about some of my insights in terms of commonalities and differences between the four interviews I have completed. The goal, of course, is to determine the reflexive nature between personal identity and the act of creating/appropriating an object into one’s life.


Most important at this point is how I’m analyzing the interviews. Because interviews are qualitative data, my job as a researcher is to make sense of, and interpret, the information in terms of the meaning my interview subjects bring. Through my interpretation, I should be able to make abstracted connections between the interview subjects. This will help inform the nuances of my proposed design guidelines.

I’m using a four-point methodology of each interview, as follows.

Initial Background Reading

Upon finding the person and getting their interest to interview with me, I read whatever is available about them online. This is to help me understand who they are and to categorize their involvement with Steampunk.

Upon categorization, I look over my questions to determine which would be more applicable to the person.


The interviews are held over Skype, GTalk, and phone. I am recording them using my FlipCam Ultra so that I can burn the data to DVD-Rs for archiving. The discs are labeled as P#, the number being the cumulative number of persons I contact, in the order I contact them. This helps ensure privacy, as the identifying data relating to P# is held elsewhere.

The interviews begin with me telling the subject a little about myself and my study, so they have some context and feel comfortable with me. I then invite them to speak about themselves, first just in general, and then as the interview goes along, more specifically relating their personal history with Steampunk.

This means that I ask questions that relate to how the person found Steampunk, why they are interested in it, etc. As a researcher, I attempt to find connections between their other hobbies/habits/professions that don’t have anything to do with Steampunk, in order to determine how Steampunk works (or doesn’t work) as a case study for the subject’s personal identity formation.


After the interview, I look over my notes and copy the interview data to DVD-R discs. I leave the data for a day or two to distance myself from the person and my memories of interacting with them. I return to the data to transcribe the audio into a transcript so I can look for patterns.  When determining patterns, I ask such questions as:

  • How does their involvement with Steampunk relate to their personal history?
  • How does their involvement with Steampunk relate to their personal interests and hobbies?
  • How does their involvement with Steampunk relate to their profession, if at all?

Comparative Analysis

As I synthesize patterns of information, I relate the patterns across persons and categories of persons. How do the insights from the merchant interview relate to the insights from the cosplayer interview? What about the inventor interview insights? How do they compare and contrast? What can I learn by the similarities and differences?

Then I abstract out to the community and culture. How do the actions of the individual help shape the community? How is this relationship reflexive, i.e. how does the community help shape the actions of the individual?

All of this leads back to how the creative act of appropriation reflects personal identity and how personal identity is reflected in acts of creative appropriation.