M&E staff collects in-depth qualitative data
The quality and depth of the data collected depends largely on the skills of the data
collection team and the appropriateness of the data collection tool. For individual
interviews and other informal methods, only one staff member is required to both
facilitate and record the exercise. However, you will need a team of two members,
one facilitator and one notetaker, for many of the more structured qualitative
exercises such as focus group discussions and many PRA methods. The facilitator
asks each of the questions and guides the discussion while the notetaker writes
down exactly what the participants said (word for word). Include both facilitators
and notetakers in an extensive training session to ensure high-quality data are
collected (refer to Training and Field Testing). Annex A includes tips for facilitators
If you choose to record the discussion or interview on a tape recorder, one staff
member should still take backup notes in case the machine malfunctions. The
notetaker also can record the reactions or expressions of participant(s) during the
discussion. Consider the cultural appropriateness of introducing a tape recorder into
an interview or discussion.
Conduct female-only discussions or focus groups (led by female facilitators and
recorders) if this will increase the participation by women and if culturally
appropriate. Refer to Gender and M&E for more information on gender
The objective of qualitative methods is to learn about participant‘s situations,
perspectives and preoccupations. Phrase the questions in qualitative tools in such a
way to generate discussion and in-depth data, not ―yes‖ or ―no‖ answers. Follow up
each question with probing questions, such as ―why?‖ or ―why not?,‖ ―any other
examples?‖ or ―could you be more specific?‖ For more information, refer to
Developing Qualitative Tools.
Tips for conducting qualitative exercises
Plan to hold the exercise in a neutral location.
The exercise should last no more than two hours (much less for informal
methods and interviews). Estimate the time required based on the number
and depth of the questions you include. Reduce the number of questions if
you find the exercise will take too long.
Explain the objectives of the exercise to the participants and make sure the
exercise does not raise participants‘ expectations that they will receive
anything for their participation.
Atthe close of the exercise, thank the participants for their time and input.
AnnexB includes common problems and their solutions.