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A Guide to Interviewing Terrorists and Violent Extremists

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Studies in Conflict & TerrorismJournal abstract
The quality of studies drawing primary data from terrorists and violent extremist respondents varies substantially, with this body of literature exhibiting a variety of repeating methodological issues. For instance, researchers often uncritically accept interviewee responses at face value, overlook key theoretical insights, downplay or neglect potentially important explanatory variables, fail to offer sufficient information about their sampling methods, and deliver findings with inferences beyond what their sample allows. Indeed, certain studies demonstrate a number of these flaws, including the United Nations Development Programme's recently published Journey to Extremism in Africa report. Within this context, the dual purposes of this article are (a) to discuss ways to overcome these specific methodological problems, and (b) to provide broader guidance for face-to-face research with such respondents.

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