Research Method: Graphic Interviews

13th April 2021

Funded Project:
Methods for Change

This ‘how to’ guide outlines the Graphic Interviews: Graphic Elicitation and Sketch Reportage research method used by Nik Brown and Christina Buse from the University of York. The film was created in collaboration with Chris Stewart.

Social scientists from the Methods for Change project came together to discuss the research methods they use and how methods create change in society. Drawing from the expertise in the Aspect network, they collaborated on a series of ‘how to’ guides which are step-by-step instructions and top-tips for adopting these methods in a range of sectors. Visual and multisensory pieces, including comics, illustrations, posters, booklets, short films and animations were then developed in collaboration with creatives to capture the key value of these research methods with a view to being able to convey them to a variety of audiences.

It is hoped that these resources will be useful for people in higher education, commercial, public sector, third sector and community organisations who are interested in experimenting with, and expanding professional skills in, the adoption of social science research methods.

Research Method: Graphic Interviews

Graphic Interviews involve a combination of talking and engaging with visual materials. This guide considers two Graphic Interview techniques: Graphic Elicitation using architectural plans, and Sketch Reportage. These two techniques can be used independently, or can be brought together in a single research project to provide multi-layered insight into the world of the respondent by combining different visual registers.

Graphic Elicitation entails the use of drawing methods in the context of an interview, with drawings either produced by the participant or researcher. Architectural drawings and layout plans, for example, can be introduced, with participants then invited to draw on and engage with the plans in response to prompts or questions. This can enable researchers to understand how participants experience, navigate, inhabit or work within a space. Sketch Reportage involves a skilled artist joining the research team and visually documenting the content of interview discussions in situ, capturing and representing aspects of life disclosed by respondents. This method can result in the production of visually compelling drawings or paintings which may be valued by participants, and can also be useful for communicating research findings. Both of these approaches provide ways of concretising what has been said and give the described experiences a material form.

You can find all the research outputs from the Methods for Change series here

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