Research Interview Transcription Issues

TranscriptionI am nearly finished with my transcription, and as I mentioned last week, I am quickly becoming aware of the politics around transcription, namely those where people assume (uncritically, of course!) the way they handle these issues are done in the same way by everybody engaged in transcription.  Into the literature I went for some guidance, and what I found was somewhat surprising.

One of the articles I read when I searched the literature, Transcription in Research and Practice: From Standardization of Technique to Interpretive Positionings, raised a number of important points that invited me to pause for reflection on how I am handling myown research project:

  • transcription is theory-laden, and there are not uniform conventions or standards for how to make decisions
  • language and meanings are inherently situational and contextual; the theory and method for handling transcription needs to be addressed and clarified by the researcher
  • transcriptions seem to be interpretive constructions arrived at by choices by the researcher

How often I find research papers that gloss over or do not even acknowledge the transcription of the interviews, without addressing any of the concerns or issues that fundamentally influence the direction of the research?

While this article is a bit dated (1999) and I have located some more recent works that I will try to process later this week, I found Lapadat’s and Lindsay’s concluding paragraph (p. 82) inciteful, leaving me with the feeling that I need to know more:

Unlike Kvale (1996), we believe that the problematic issues cannot be avoided simply by omitting the step of transcription. The hard work of interpretation still needs to be done. Researchers across disciplines for many years have found transcription to be an important component of the analysis process. We want to emphasize that it is not just the transcription product—those verbatim words written down—that is important; it is also the process that is valuable. Analysis takes place and understandings are derived through the process of constructing a transcript by listening and re-listening, viewing and re-viewing. We think that transcription facilitates the close attention and the interpretive thinking that is needed to make sense of the data. It is our contention that transcription as a theory-laden component of qualitative analysis warrants closer examination.

Yes, I do indeed need to closer examine these (and other) issues I am confronting now in my research.

eLearning’s Done; Now, for that Research . . .

Finally finished with the eLearning Project that has kept me occupied since the classes I taught this summer ended. Really happy with the three modules I created for Pace University’s DNP program. Now, let’s hope the incoming students also find them useful . . .

Now, I feel I am able to devote all my time outside work to my Autoethnographer Community of Practice research project. Still a LOT to do. Let’s see, it is due in 11 days and I am still transcribing.

I can do that!

Transcription Politics

I am busily working on transcription–my first foray into this process (complete with new recorder and foot pedal), and have already had the benefit of encountering some of the politics around transcription.

Politics, you think?

I started to think about this when there were pauses (not recorded, if we are literal), changes in thought mid-sentence (which in a written transcript seems like a scattered and brainless mess, though happens all the time in our common discussion), grammatical errors (do we embaress the participants by showing them what they actually said), chuckles, changes in tone and energy, body language, and the like. So many factors to consider, that I have started to think that an audio interview, while capturing what is said, may not adequately capture what is meant.

When sharing this with some colleagues, I was surprised to hear how uncritically or at time literal people could be, as if these issues were assumed to be outside of the research process, and should not be explored. Odd response from qualitative researchers, to say the least.

Into the literature I go yet again for some guidance on how to handle these . . .

Transcription Foot Pedal for Digital Interviews

As I have been recording interviews for a doctoral research project, the next step is to transcribe them. As there are many political issues regarding how to handle transcriptions (do you notate pauses, tone grammatical corrections, and the like—also sifting through some of the vast literature on this topic), I will do this myself to better be able to navigate the process and create a key for what and why I make decisions about the interviews.

infinity usb 2Thus, I needed to purchase a transcription foot pedal, and ASAP at that!

Not knowing where to get one of these (lots sold online, though I am in a rush to get started), I located AAAPrice, where I purchased an Infinity Foot Control IN-USB-2. The fellow who helped me there, Adam, not only gave me directions to their Brooklyn office (they usually sell online, so going to the office is a bit unusual. As I said, I was really in a rush to get this!), but he also showed me how to set it up with the basic (free!) software that works with these pedals, Express Scribe. He even gave me a printed set of instructions! I cannot recommend his company enough for the wonderful and personal service I received.

With this said, now off to transcribe!