Email Interviews in Qualitative Research: An Innovative Approach to Data Collection

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Brief Abstract

Email interviews offer many benefits for researchers and participants and have become a particularly purposeful data collection method following the onset of COVID-19. In this session, presenters discuss how email interviews can be used to collect rich data for qualitative research and offer practical tips for how to utilize this strategy in research.


Allison Deegan, Ed.D., is a faculty member in the College of Education at Trident University International ( and in the Graduate Center for Public Policy and Administration at California State University, Long Beach ( Her teaching focuses on Educational Leadership, dissertation success, and Public Policy Analysis. She is a fiscal and policy administrator at the Los Angeles County Office of Education (, the largest regional educational agency in the country, which has oversight for 80 school districts and 13 community colleges. She also serves as Associate Director and on the Advisory Board for WriteGirl (, the acclaimed creative writing and mentoring program based in Los Angeles. She has served as Associate Editor on all of WriteGirl’s 30+ award-winning anthologies. She has extensive expertise in dissertation success, educational leadership, emerging research methods, after school/out-of-school time program leadership, creativity, creative writing, public policy, and undergraduate/graduate admissions attainment. She holds a B.S. from Syracuse University, an MFA in Fiction from the Institute of American Indian Arts, an MPA in Public Policy from California State University, Long Beach, and an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership, also from CSULB.

Extended Abstract

In this interactive session, Dr. Allison Deegan and Dr. Cammy Romanuck Murphy discuss the benefits of email interviews as a data collection method for qualitative research. Email interviews have a myriad of practical benefits for researchers and participants alike and have been a particularly useful and effective data collection method following the onset of COVID-19. Some of the benefits of using email interviews to collect data include: flexibility in terms of time and location for participants and researcher; access to geographically dispersed participants; cost-efficiency; rich, thick, interview data; viability of social distancing; feelings of trust and safety from participants, which is particularly important when exploring sensitive topics; fully transcribed data from participants; reflective, thorough, thoughtful responses; and many more.

Dr. Deegan and Dr. Romanuck Murphy discuss how email interviews can be used to collect rich data for qualitative research and offer practical tips for faculty and students to utilize this strategy in research. During this presentation, attendees will be asked to actively participate by engaging in interactive questions and answers and by helping to create a shared handout. All attendees will be provided with a copy of the session’s slides, an example email interview protocol, a sample recruitment letter to participants, and an email interview FAQs/Best Practices handout.

The Learning Objectives of this Presentation are:
1. Describe how and when email interviews may be used as an effective data collection method in qualitative research.
2. Identify the strengths and challenges associated with conducting email interviews.
3. Understand best practices related to instrument development, recruiting participants, informed consent, trustworthiness and credibility, data collection, and data analysis as it relates to email interviews.
4. Acquire useful resources and practical tips for successfully using email interviews in research.

By the end of this session, attendees should have a well-rounded understanding of the use, benefits, and practicalities of using email interviews in research. Attendees will be well-equipped with the knowledge and resources necessary to use this data collection method in research or to coach students through the process of using email interviews in research.