The following analysis has arisen from discussions between the authors when we met in a common academic environment. Our areas of expertise are different: one is an experienced professional mediator, the other is an expert qualitative researcher and evaluator.

As we talked and worked together on a joint project we discovered that, although ostensibly very different, the two types of activity had much in common, especially when considering the qualitative method of interviewing.

However there remain features that distinguish the essential nature of each practice. The commonalities and differences are examined in this article, an exercise which is timely given the increased application of qualitative methods to researching mediation practice.