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Avoid Asking for Little-known Facts

In qualitative interviewing, questions should focus on respondents' personal knowledge. Avoid asking for little-known information. Here we have assembled all responses to the question, "How many people from St. Vincent are here living in Canada and Montreal?" The answers are wildly divergent. One should avoid asking such questions because: (1) it is unrealistic to expect respondents to provide reliable information; (2) there are more reliable ways to get the information; (3) one cannot possibly make use of the discrepant answers provided.

InterviewRespondentResponse to "How many people from St. Vincent and the Grenadines are living in Canada and Montreal?"
1BobMontreal maybe 15,000. Toronto, a lot. I don't know if it totals 50,000.
2DianeIn Montreal, last count, 6,000 or more…
3LionelI don't know, I couldn't guess.
4PaulIn the whole Canada maybe 20,000. If that much. Probably less.
5Judy5,000-8,000, including children born here?
6VeronicaI don't know. Maybe roughly about 75,000.
7CarlI don't have an accurate figure. I don't know of any study that was done. I guess it is a couple of thousands.
8TedI suppose a few thousands.
9RuthRuth: I have no knowledge, it's growing rapidly‚Ķ I know some of my friends went back home, with a masters, Ph.D., and they taught school, built a house… Maybe I'll go back.
10GerryI don't think anybody really knows. National association says it is about the pop of St. Vincent and the Grenadines it about 150,000. But we say that there is really about 250,000 but almost half live abroad. About 20,000 living in Canada, perhaps 5,000 in Montreal.
11AndyNo idea.
13RossI wouldn't be able to hazard a guess.
14ConnieWhen Canada opened its doors to domestics, I was working in the Labour department at that time and a good many people came over. The women were screened in St. Vincent. If she had children she wasn't allowed to go. Also she had to have a certain standard of education. We used to give them classes in domestic sciences, because a lot of them did office work.
15DarleneI really don't know. They're always moving from St. Vincent, …

Exercise: "Don't ask me. I really don't know."

Review the Caribbean interviews. Select and comment on examples where the respondent is asked to provide information beyond his or her knowledge.


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