Definition of Informant
Example of Informant
- The Community Outreach and Volunteer Coordinator at a domestic violence shelter that facilitates access to staff members and volunteers for research purposes.
- American English – /in-fOR-muhnt/
- British English – /in-fAWm-uhnt/
International Phonetic Alphabet
- American English – /ᵻnˈfɔrm(ə)nt/
- British English – /ɪnˈfɔːm(ə)nt/
- Plural: informants
- A type of individual.
- The terms “informant” and “respondent” are often used interchangeably. However, they are separate terms. “Informant” connotes qualitative research and “respondent” connotes quantitative research.
- A key informant (also called gatekeeper) is a primary source for an ethnographic researcher that often enthusiastically shares information and facilitates access to other people.
- Also called:
- An informant (verb) informs and is an (noun) informer.
- “An informant is neither a subject in a scientific experiment nor a respondent who answers the investigator’s questions. An informant is a teacher who has a special kind of student: a professional anthropologist [or sociologist]” (Spradley and McCurdy 2008:4).
- “Ethnographers seek out the insider’s viewpoint. Because culture is the knowledge people use to generate behavior and interpret experience, the ethnographer seeks to understand group members’ behavior from the inside, or cultural, perspective. Instead of looking for a subject to observe, ethnographers look for an informant to teach them the culture” (Spradley and McCurdy 2008:4).
- Qualitative Research Resources – Books, Journals, and Helpful Links
- Word origin of “informant” – Online Etymology Dictionary: etymonline.com
- Atkinson, Paul. 1990. The Ethnographic Imagination: Textual Constructions of Reality. London: Routledge.
- Behar, Ruth. 1996. The Vulnerable Observer: Anthropology that Breaks Your Heart. Boston: Beacon Press.
- Emerson, Robert M., Rachel I. Fretz, and Linda L. Shaw. 2011. Writing Ethnographic Fieldnotes. 2nd ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
- Morse, Janice M. 1991. “Subjects, Respondents, Informants, and Participants?” Qualitative Health Research 1(4):403–406. doi:10.1177/104973239100100401.
- van Maanen, John. 2011. Tales of the Field: On Writing Ethnography. 2nd ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
- Wolcott, Harry F. 2009. Writing Up Qualitative Research. 3rd ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.
- detached observation
- informed consent
Spradley, James P., and David W. McCurdy. 2008. Conformity and Conflict: Readings in Cultural Anthropology. 13th ed. Boston: Pearson Education.
ASA – American Sociological Association (5th edition)
Bell, Kenton, ed. 2014. “informant.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Retrieved October 3, 2023 (https://sociologydictionary.org/informant/).
APA – American Psychological Association (6th edition)
informant. (2014). In K. Bell (Ed.), Open education sociology dictionary. Retrieved from https://sociologydictionary.org/informant/
Chicago/Turabian: Author-Date – Chicago Manual of Style (16th edition)
Bell, Kenton, ed. 2014. “informant.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Accessed October 3, 2023. https://sociologydictionary.org/informant/.
MLA – Modern Language Association (7th edition)
“informant.” Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Ed. Kenton Bell. 2014. Web. 3 Oct. 2023. <https://sociologydictionary.org/informant/>.