Christian von Soest

Why Do We Speak to Experts? Reviving the Strength of the Expert Interview Method

Perspectives on Politics | 2022

  • Abstract

    In political scientists’ drive to examine causal mechanisms, qualitative expert interviews have an important role to play. This is particularly true for the analysis of complex decision-making processes, where there is a dearth of data, and for linking macro and micro levels of analysis. The paper offers suggestions for making the most effective and reflective use of qualitative expert interviews. It advocates an encompassing, knowledge-based understanding of experts and argues for the incorporation of both “inside” and “outside” experts, meaning those that make and those that analyze political decisions, into an integrated analytical framework. It puts forward concrete advice addressing this technique’s inherent challenges of selecting experts, experts’ personal biases, and the systematic capturing of evidence. Finally, the article suggests that the combination of expert interviews, experimental methods, and online interviewing can meaningfully strengthen the evidentiary value of this important data collection technique.

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    Perspectives on Politics


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