Guidelines for Volunteers

I want to interview someone.

The People Behind the Papers Project depends on volunteers to produce its material.

If you are interested in volunteering to be an interviewer there is some basic information that you need to be aware of.

The Process

First you need to identify a South African social scientist who has at least one article published in an accredited journal.

Then contact one of the team members listed on the ABOUT page with your proposed interview subject.

If the team decides that we are interested in your subject then we will facilitate the organisation of the interview.  In other words we will contact your intended subject under the auspices of the project and try to get them to agree to an interview.

We will also attempt to help with video equipment should you not have your own, but this can only be done on case-by-case basis and there is no guarantee as yet of equipment availability.

If you aren't perfectly comfortable doing an interview or feel you lack experience the PBP team is on hand to give advice so that you can be better prepared.

After you have recorded the interview we will upload a copy of it to the project website.

You are then expected to create a transcription of the interview as well as a short reflection of your experience of the person, your expectations, motivations for the interview, etc..

In order to ensure that your subject is not misrepresented you are expected to provide them with a copy of both the transcript and your reflection. If they should choose to they can then write a final word to make any amendments, observations or corrections.

The Interview

People Behind the Papers interviews are not about the work of the person you are interviewing. It is about them as people in relation to their work.

There are many questions that work in service of this goal; Why did they become social scientists? How did their backgrounds shape their choice of field? Were there external factors that influenced their career such as a personal experience of discrimination or witnessing an event?

The interview belongs to you and each one will be unique. We cannot dictate exactly what you should talk about since we expect each interviewee will have a unique story. In fact we hope for this very occurrence. However, if you find your subject wandering into talking about their professional opinions or objectively about theories and research without relating it to themselves as a person then gently guide them back with questions that try to relate those views and labours with their background, beliefs, experiences and personalities.

One of the main goals of the project is to provide aspiring social scientists with examples of the diversity of people working in the field as well as the unique difficulties South African social scientists face. Never truncate an interesting thread in your conversation, but do bear in mind who the intended audience is.