Oral History Interview & Importance Part 5

Goal Setting

Hamid Qazvini
Translated by Natalie Haghverdian

2017-05-17


Interview in oral history is a research methodology and like any other scholar method requires a specific target. Remember that recording the memories of people with no specific historiographical target is no oral history. Many institutes or the media attempts to record and publish the memoirs of political and cultural and social activists or army commanders in different formats in commemorations or to honor the name and memory of the activists in any field; however, it is not clear which need of the audience and history such attempts address.

Once an interview is set with historiography, its goals shall be set in the form of an issue or a key question through which the interview starts and ends. Hence, it is essential for the question or research topic to be precise and fully transparent represented in one or two sentences on top of the project or settled in the mind of the scholar and its limits and span considering time and location and individuals involved shall be determined.

If the goal of the interview is to record the experience of one individual and the ultimate goal is to write the biography of the same person, it shall be clearly stated at the beginning of the project. If the goal of interview is to address a research topic, its outline shall be defined so that all parties (narrator, scholar, audience) have a clear picture. This is very important in interviews in which the method of a military attack design or history of an institute or operation of a political group is the target.

Before starting the process it is crucial to provide a definition of various concepts. For instance when the goal is to research the performance of Marxist currents before the victory of the Islamic Revolution, our perception of its various concepts shall be defined clearly. Different social, elite and history groups have distinct definition of the same concept and consequently there is not common perspective of one incident which results in ambiguity on the scope and content of the project.

Goal Type

Research goals and topics might be address in two forms primary and secondary objectives. In some oral history projects, besides the general goal, subsidiary topic and questions are involved. In some other cases, upon definition of the main goal, the researcher expresses his/her intent and the limits of the project in the form of implementation arrangements and methodology. In some other types of research, instead of asking questions or addressing secondary objectives, merely the main topic is covered.

Usually, the main goal defines the research path and secondary objectives which are questions derived from the primary goal define the project outline. It is important to realize that one research might involve multiple secondary objectives.

Moreover, since oral history is more of a discovery research due to its application and nature, its goals shall be set in a manner to facilitate discovery, elaboration, interpretation and better understanding of issues.

 

Oral History Interview & Importance Part 1 - Oral History, Path to Cultural Dialogue

Oral History Interview & Importance Part 2 - Characteristics of an Interviewer

Oral History Interview & Importance Part 3 - Selecting a Subject

Oral History Interview & Importance Part 4 - Narrator Identification & Selection

 



 
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