Use Google Forms to compile information from interviews

If you are doing an investigation that requires a lot of interviews, think about creating a database from the very beginning. One way to do that is to transfer your notes from your notebooks to a spreadsheet using Google Forms.  You can find that tool on your Google Drive. Just click New, then More on the drop down menu. You’ll see the tab for Forms.  

Here’s a way you can create a database of multiple interviews done by multiple people. 

Create a template form. 

  1. Give it a title.
  2. Question one is Reporter. Make this a check boxes format. Add all the names of the reporters who will be doing interviews into this drop down menu.
  3. Question Two is Person Interviewed.Make this a drop down menu. When reporters sit down to enter in notes from an interview they will first edit the master template to add the interviewee’s name to Question Two.
  4. Question Three is titled: Question. Give that a paragraph answer format.
  5. Question Four is titled: Answer. Give that a paragraph answer format.
  6. Under the top top of responses, choose a new spreadsheet and give that a title.
  7. Under share, get the link for the form.

Store the form in a shared Google drive so that multiple reporters can access it. Each reporter should have links to both the master form template and the form submission sheet.

When reporters come back from interviews:

  1. They pull up the template and add the name of the person interviewed into the drop down menu for Question #1.
  2. They then go to the form submission and fill it out. Only one piece of information goes on the form. One question. One answer. Long answers should be broken up so that it only contains one piece of information.
  3. They hit submit and then hit the link for Submit another response.
  4. They fill it out again, next question, next answer.
  5. Repeat until all notes from the interview are entered.

This will compile all the notes onto one spreadsheet. I’ll discuss in a later post how you can sort information compiled on a spreadsheet to find patterns, sort out tangents, and even outline an initial story draft. 

One other thing: You should create a second form for metadata. Here is where reporters enter general info about each interview:

  • Question 1: Name of Person Interviewed.
  • Question 2: Title of Person
  • Question 3: Contact info of Person
  • Question 4: Date of Interview
  • Question 5: Time of Interview
  • Question 6 Mode of Interview (In-person, by phone, Skype, Facetime, Google Hangouts Instant Message, Email, Text message exchange, social media)
  • Question 7: Place (In her office, to her office…)

This will compile all the general information about each interview on one shared spreadsheet. You can even have it sent to the original interviews template as a secondary page. And can add onto the metadata form a place to add video or photos — Google forms gives you that ability. 

This sounds like a tedious process. But with a little tedium you save yourself an awful lot of organizational time and stress later on in the project, when you find yourself scrambling to sort out a massive amount of confusing information.

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