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The informant interview is a method of data collection that involves verbal interactions between a field researcher and a local informant who has specialized knowledge that would otherwise be unavailable or difficult to access. Informant interviews can help researchers narrow down the scope of their research, plan subsequent data collection steps, or design more systematic observation and interview protocols for a particular sample of participants.

The informant role should not be confused with other social science roles such as subject or respondent. Subjects’ responses help researchers test their hypotheses, but they do not define what is important for the investigator to find out (whereas an informant’s responses do). Respondents answer questions that arise out of the researcher’s culture, whereas in the informant interview, the questions arise ...

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