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How to be Successful Collecting Data in the Field

Clare Chappell

Clare Chappell, 5 February 2018

Hi, my name is Clare Chappell and I've been the Field Work Supervisor at Culture Counts Australia for over two years now.

I’ve interviewed and supervised field teams at over 100 events. These events have included music festivals, art exhibitions, Christmas pageants, sporting events, local government place activationsthe list goes on.

During this time, and across the full range of event types, I have learned helpful dos and don’ts when it comes to intercept interviewing. Here are my top tips on how to carry out and manage fieldwork using tablet-based surveys. 

Know your event

Before every event I spend time researching the where, what, when, weather and how. It’s good to be familiar with the location, in particular how the crowd may move during the event and especially how the crowd will leave the venue. These factors help to maximise data collection.

Weather conditions have a definite impact on people’s willingness to be interviewed.  Extremes weather conditions (hot, wet, cold or windy) tend to make people less likely to stop for a chat. Therefore, it’s a good idea to get in a location where you can comfortably interview people, such as in the shade, out of the wind or under cover.

Selecting your Intercept Interviewers

It’s critical to select interviewers who are comfortable talking to strangers. You need a certain amount of personal confidence to be successful at engaging the public in conversation.

As an intercept interviewer, you’ll be moving through crowds often in a variety of weather conditions. We therefore typically keep the interview shift short, around 3 hours is ideal. 

Dressing for the Event

At Culture Counts, we wear a t-shirt with our identifying logo and a lanyard. It’s a requirement that our interview team be neatly dressed and groomed. Comfortable footwear is a must especially if the interviewing requires a lot of walking on footpaths or concrete. Being sun smart is essential if interviewing during the day. Slip, slop, slap & hydrate!

Data Collection

We typically arrive at an event before it’s started. Watching or experiencing an event will help contextualise any written feedback the audience may provide. 

You may find that your event has areas of static crowds. This will often occur around food and beverage providers. We often find people are happy to partake in an interview at this time.

Experience has shown me that approaching people straight on, face to face with both a smile and the expectation they will say yes, will greatly increase your success rate on achieving an interview response.

Often people’s first reaction when they see you with a tablet can be that you are about to try and sell them something. Once they know you are collecting feedback on the event and it will only take two minutes of their time, I estimate 80% of people happily agree to complete the survey.

It’s best that you pass the tablet to the respondent and have them compete the survey. This will ensure you collect the most accurate response, as it removes any possible interviewer misinterpretation in the recording of their views.

Not all intercept surveys have an open textbox for feedback, so I often note down any comments I receive and ask my field interviews to do the same. These comments when collated add richness and context to the data.

When performing interviews, we aim to approach a demographic mix that represents the entire group. That means approaching different genders, ethnic groups and ages. You may find that inexperienced intercept interviewers will tend to approach a demographic similar to their own as they see them as safe and approachable. This will deliver a data set that contains bias. Some simple instruction will often help them to understand the importance of collecting a varied sample of surveys.

Happy interviewing and please feel free to contact me at for any further help with field intercept interviewing.

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