The transaction “x-ray”: refreshing the parts other peers cannot reach!

Alan Aitken, Robert Paton

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    Penetrating potentially sensitive areas for interviewees and, subsequently, aggregating interview outputs in a manner that avoids the effects of decontextulisation and decomposition are issues commonly faced by qualitative researchers. This paper, whose title is unashamedly borrowed from a long-running UK beer advert, presents a research method that seeks to overcome these issues. Using a web-based contemporary update of Diary-Diary Interview techniques, the researchers were able to penetrate the commercial sensitivity associated with the longitudinal study of presales interactions between business-to-business (B2B) buyers and sellers. The research methodology develops well-established techniques associated with qualitative content analysis to examine individual interactions and subsequently utilises an innovative graphical method of aggregation to present a nuanced view of groups of transactions that share common characteristics. The resulting transaction “X-rays” are used to explore emergent themes by comparing and contrasting X-rays across data sets. Although developed within the specific context of B2B negotiation, the authors contend that the methodology has significant cross-discipline potential. Applications suited to the method may include any context in which researchers seek to develop a deeper and more complete understanding of the interviewee than can be achieved by comparable techniques. The methodology is particularly suited to situations in which interviewees, although happy to participate in the interview process, may not respond to direct questioning for reasons of personal sensitivity. In this regard, presenting aggregated results in the form of transaction “X-rays” further gives assurance of interviewee anonymity.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1
    Number of pages1
    JournalInternational Journal of Qualitative Methods
    Issue number1
    Early online date22 Nov 2016
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2016


    • qualitative researchers
    • interview outputs
    • interview techniques
    • interviews


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