How did we do it?
Springtide’s Off-Script project draws from 35 semi-structured exit interviews with former MLAs who served in the Nova Scotia House of assembly.
Over the summer and fall of 2015 we sat down with MLAs from across the province to record their experiences of serving in the House. Our team interviewed the MLAs in places that felt comfortable to them: their living rooms, public libraries, coffee shops as well as the Springtide offices in the North End of Halifax. All our interviewees signed a consent form to participate in the project. The interviews were almost entirely on the record, but we gave the MLAs the opportunity to pause the recording to tell us an off-record story.
We used the same question guide in all the interviews, which covered the MLAs’ pre-legislative career to their last day in the House. The guide included the following themes: pre-legislative career and political involvement, experience during the election, early days in the House & learning to be an MLA, interaction with constituents and community groups, interaction with bureaucracy, experience as a backbencher/cabinet minister, the end of their political career.
Springtide’s volunteer team then transcribed the interview recordings word for word. We kept the interview transcripts as accurate as possible (but omitted common filler phrases such as “like” and “you know”). The team’s next task was to find common themes in the interviews. We used qualitative analysis software, called NVIVO, which allowed us to determine patterns across the interviews. The patterns we found in NVIVO form the basis of the podcast series and reports. At this point we brought Sandra Hannebohm, a journalism student, into the team. Sandra helped write some podcast scripts and interview journalists, and staff in the Legislature to bring some context to the MLA interviews.