Key informant interviews: a practical guide for refugee and displacement researchers
Interviews with key informants are an important component of any research project dealing with refugee, displacement and humanitarian issues. Whether you are talking to a politician, a government official, a UN or NGO employee or a civil society leader, they provide an invaluable means of gaining access to factual and topical information; an understanding of the historical context of your project; as well as ideas, insights and opinions that can shed a new and different light on the evidence you have collected by other means. In my experience, they can also be one of the most stimulating parts of the research process, more enjoyable in many ways than administering a survey, trawling through archival records or reading reams of secondary literature. Here I provide a set of 8 key guidelines, based on my own experience as an interviewer and interviewee over the past 40 years. While your approach will evidently have to be revised and adapted according to the person you are meeting and the context in which you are meeting them, I believe that these guidelines provide a solid basis for any key informant interviews that you undertake in the course of your research. Please note that these guidelines do not apply to interviews with refugees, displaced people and host population members.