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Locating the Right Reference Tools: Interviews

Locating the Right Reference Tools: Interviews


Use interviews with experts who know about your topic to strengthen the research you have done with other sources.


Interviews with people who know about your topic can give you firsthand information you probably could not find anywhere else. Prepare in advance for an interview by learning the background information about your topic and preparing good questions to guide your interview. Prepared questions will help you accomplish your goals.


Once you've identified an expert on your subject, contact him or her to see if and when an interview is possible. Prepare interview questions ahead of time. The most effective interview questions are open-ended; that is, they ask for more than a yes or a no answer.


Before the interview:


        * make an appointment with the person you want to interview

        * investigate your topic and learn about your source

        * prepare four or five basic questions


During the interview:


        * ask informational questions (who, what, where, when, why, and how)

        * listen carefully

        * ask follow-up questions

        * take accurate notes and use a tape recorder (ask permission to record the person)


After the interview:


        * write a detailed account from your notes

        * contact your source to clarify points or to double-check facts

        * send a thank-you note to the person you interviewed