The quality of information about a community is only as good as the technique or the combination of techniques used. On one hand, by using just one technique, the resulting information may be too narrow or vague. On the other hand, using several techniques may be costly in terms of time and money. It is upon the researcher to judge the pros and cons of the different available approaches and to decide which one Is the most appropriate for evaluating the problematic situation. Occasionally, the combination of several techniques may provide a reasonable picture and may have the most significant results for the investigation.
Key Informant Interviews (KII) is one of the most common techniques that apply to projects that have social impact or effect to the community, in order a feedback and information to be collected prior to the application of a policy planning or a decision.
The KII technique is a commonly utilized approach for gathering information in the needs of the community or the stakeholders. It is used extensively by ethnographers, and it is useful in different problematic situations, regarding society or community-oriented problems.
The term Key Informant is defined by Goetz and LeCompte as the individual who possesses special knowledge or communication skills, who is willing to share them with the researcher, and who have access to the perspectives and observations denied to the researcher. The term interview means in short of formal discourse. In the general concept, it describes the relationship between the researcher and the key informant from which, is negotiated an understanding of culture.
The aim of the approach is to explore and uncover different patterns and forces that drive the formulation of the system’s behavior. Due to the inability of the researcher to interview everyone, the method assists the researcher in the identification of the key interviewer. This is done by the introduction of several criteria. The first set of selection differ based on one’s approach. One of these, referred to as a theory-driven, results from the use of prior knowledge of the researcher in constructing the framework. The second set of criteria, data-driven, are generated from the exploration of the nature of the different groups, and the comparisons that are being done from their different vantage points. In common parlance, the theoretical background of the researcher and the first key informant can lead the researcher to the second key informant, and so on.
In order to conduct the interviews, the researcher uses three types of questions. Descriptive questions are the introductory questions in the interview, structural questions, which focus the researcher’s inquiry and the contrast questions, which clarify the area of the research interest.
Key Informant Interviews technique could be optimal be performed with the combination of the cognitive mapping approach.