guidelines (ODK)

  1. Start broad, then go deeper. During the first interviews it is important to touch upon all themes and topics. After some initial interviews, some of the topics and questions can be left out in order to deeper investigate the topics and questions that seem surprising or interesting for the design project.

  2. Time and place of the interview. It is useful to conduct interviews at homes to combine interviews with observation and to create a comfortable setting. However, if the home setting results in shyness, embarrassment, is too hot, or results in a lot of audience or other disturbances, it might be better to conduct the interview in a more contained space.

  3. Flexible but focused individual conversations. The ODK provides steps, themes and guiding questions, but there is room for flexibility and unexpected turns in order to stimulate dialogue. There is no indicated order indicated for addressing the themes. Do not ask questions from a script, and feel free to add or change questions. The interview should feel like an open-ended, dynamic conversation to make participants feel comfortable. It is important to continue dialogue regarding topics that seem to be of interest to the participant, and regarding surprising, idiosyncratic or contradictory responses or behaviour from the participant. It might be useful to hide the list of questions and to learn the key questions by heart or keep them out of sight. Do, however, exert some control over activity topics. Use the question cards and drawings to keep an overview of the themes and topics discussed and preferably start and end with ‘easy’ to discuss themes.

  4. Duration of interviews. The interview should be sufficiently long to make participants feel to make participants feel they are being heard, but should not continue too long resulting in participants becoming tired and disinterested. Follow up on answers, but also keep focus: if focus is lost, the interview can become overly long without obtaining useful information. End the interview when no questions are left, or when you feel like delaying a participant. The ODK interview is scheduled to last between 1.5 and 3 hours. The participants should be properly informed before the interview about how much time the activity will take, before they give their consent. Participants can be compensated for their time, for example by providing food or compensation for expenses, and a gift can be provided. If an interview takes longer, participants should be informed and asked for additional consent. The participants can be offered a compensation for continuing the interview. If the participant is not willing to continue longer, the interview should be concluded. When being familiar to the themes and questions, interviews can be conducted quicker. When more drawings are being made and more follow-up questions are posed, interviews become longer. Decide, based on the participant’s behaviour and attitude, how to approach the interview.

  5. Number of interviews. The objective of the ODK interviews is to get to know people’s available and valued beings and doings, and to become inspired. The amount of interviews is not fixed and it is up to the team to decide when sufficient insight is obtained. The context, the project, the participants, the translator, the variety of participants that can and should be included, and the skills of the facilitator all influence the outcomes and therefore the number of interviews required. It is not the intention to obtain statistically generalizable data, and after the first few interviews the amount of new insights will decrease. The ‘quick scan’ program includes at least five interviews, to be conducted in three days. However, it depends on the amount of insights if this is sufficient or that more interviews are required. The ‘extensive scan’ allows for conducting more interviews in combination with other methods.

  6. Consider to use specific questioning techniques. As mentioned under ‘questioning techniques’.

  7. Dealing with sensitive questions. Sensitivity differs per culture, so it might be that the questions you think are sensitive, are not sensitive to the participant.  Your own assumptions and feelings towards questions should not be leading. Discuss the questions beforehand with a local partner to identify sensitivities. Start with more general and easy to answer questions, and later in the interview, when rapport has been build, it might be possible to pose sensitive questions and probe broader and deeper. However, be understanding and sensitive towards the feelings of participants and the potential of causing psychological harm for the participant. Try to rephrase a question when the participant is hesitant to answer it, or ignore the question if it leads to  an uncomfortable situation. Sensitive questions should not be forcefully asked, just because they are in the ODK. It is not always possible to obtain answers to all questions, but that is also not required. Participants must be free to share what they want and remain comfortable. An unwillingness to answer questions also provides valuable information. It might be wise to let sensitive questions to male participants be posed by male facilitators and translators and to female participants by female facilitators and translators. Sensitivities can be pointed out beforehand by local partners and / or the translator, but the information provided by them should not be leading.