I recently received quite a lot of requests from researchers around the world for expert interviews on quite a diverse range of topics. Since I am always happy to support researchers across all career stages, I wanted to offer some guidance when and how it is useful for you to contact me, and when and how I am able to assist you in your request.
First of all keep in mind that every request takes some time out of my schedule. An interview itself takes at least two hours (that includes to agree on times, me thinking about your questions, and then the discussion in itself). It also takes time out of your research and writing schedule, so both of us have to be sure that it is productive.
Expert interviews can be a very useful methodology for any kind of research project. They are particularly useful to gather data that you would otherwise would not have access to, or to test your initial findings and interpretations. Expert interviews also have limitations. They are, however, only useful, if you know already precisely of what kind of knowledge you want to gain through the discussion. This implies that you need to have a very good pre-understanding of what the person that you want to contact and interview knows (and what not). Hence, before you contact an interview, you need to
a) clarify for yourself what the methodological status of the expert interview is in your project. Is it for data gathering? Is it for co-interpretation, or for other purposes? There is quite some literature on this, which can guide you through this process (see my recommendations in the list below).
b) do your research about what the person you are about to interview actually knows and figure out what makes him/her an expert in this. You can gain some insights by researching what the person has written and published on. Make sure to read carefully the respective articles and papers before contacting someone.
Often you find the answers you are seeking in those publications. If you cannot get access to some of these works, try first via platforms, such as Research Gate or Academia, and if you still can’t get access, then contact the author for a digital copy. Many of my publications are available via open access and you find an overview of them on this website.
Next find out what the person you want to interview actually has in-depth knowledge of, for instance, what kind of political processes he or her has been involved with. As you can see across this website, other than being a practitioner in the discipline of international relations, I have been involved primarily in processes that concern maritime security (e.g. counter-piracy, maritime domain awareness, EU maritime security, some dialogue formats). You find overview on this on my consultancy page and on the media page. So if you are interested in these particular topics, I might have some interesting insights for you.
c) After you have done that research, and if you consider me to ba an expert that can provide you with valuable insights or interpretations, please do contact me via email (email@example.com). Please include in your email:
- a short description of your project.
- how you are using expert interviews in your study (methodology)
- why you consider me to hold valuable knowledge for your project
- what kind of topics and questions you would like to discuss
I will respond to your email as soon as possible. If I haven’t responded within two weeks, that implies I am currently dealing with a high workload. Please do send me the same email again in that case.
Weiss, Robert Stuart. 1994. Learning from strangers. The Art and Method of Qualitative Interview Studies, Free Press.
Bogner, Alexander, Beate Littig, Wolfgang Menz. 2009. Interviewing Experts, Springer.
Bueger, Christian. 2014. Pathways to Practice. Praxiography and International Politics, European Political Science Review 6(3): 383-406,