Software-Assisted Transcribing for Qualitative Interviews: Practical Guidelines

Software-Assisted Transcribing for Qualitative Interviews: Practical Guidelines

Taghreed Justinia (King Saud bin Abdulaziz University for Health Sciences, Saudi Arabia & Swansea University, UK)
Copyright: © 2015 |Pages: 24
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-6493-7.ch010
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This chapter introduces a guide to transcribing qualitative research interviews assisted by digital transcription software. It also provides practical advice on transcribing methods, conventions, and options. It is useful in its exploration of the challenges involved with transcribing, while it offers detailed solutions and advice for the novice researcher. The chapter also addresses key concerns, like the time it takes to transcribe, transcription tools, and digital versus analogue recordings. As a method chapter based on experiences from a case, it takes on a practical approach by demonstrating the benefits of data analysis software packages with examples and screenshots on how to specifically use the software package Express Scribe. The pros and cons of using a transcriptionist are also discussed. A real transcript is presented in the chapter, and the steps involved with developing and formatting it are offered in detail. The guidelines suggested in this chapter are concentrated on the pragmatic hands-on experience of a researcher with examples from a real life large-scale qualitative study based on in-depth interviews. The significance of transcribing within the analytical process and the methodological insights of using Express Scribe eventually emerge as a developing concept from this work.
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The Significance Of Transcribing

The use of audio recordings in interview studies is a popular practice that usually leads to formulating a transcript (Bowling, 2009). It is the second stage that follows the data collection (Sarangi, 2010). Transcribing the recording is therefore a significant step in qualitative research analysis, and without a transcript it would be difficult to manage the data. However, once the data collection is complete and all interviews are recorded, novice researchers might find themselves perplexed. They arrive at a stage where they have to transcribe hours and hours of recordings, usually without clear guides on how to get started. As DiCicco-Bloom and Crabtree (2006) explain, “Transcribing tape-recorded interviews into text is a process that remains relatively unexplored” (318). Additionally, some of these recordings might be inaudible, or have other problems that would make them difficult to transcribe, like poor sentence structure (DiCicco-Bloom & Crabtree, 2006), weak semantics or repeated interruptions. Having experienced these concerns first hand, I have a deep sympathy for researchers at this phase of the research process. Most of the literature on the practicalities of transcribing concentrates on transcribing for discourse and conversation analysis (Ruch et al., 2007; Sarangi, 2010). These works mostly focus on language or conversation, while generally sharing a single set of detailed conventions for transcribing (Parry, 2010). The type of detailed transcription described in these studies is intimidating for someone new to research. They demonstrate techniques for phonetic verbatim transcription to methodically capture every nuance and utter. I felt undue pressure to produce similar transcripts. I then turned my focus towards examples of interview transcripts, and sought guidance on various options and approaches from similar studies and simpler guidelines (Bailey, 2008; Bird, 2005; Lapadat & Lindsay, 1999; Silverman, 2001, 2005, 2006; Tilley, 2003; Webb, 1999). I then realized that I did not need to conform to the particulars of discourse analysis techniques, allowing me to focus on how and what to transcribe. This chapter aims to provide some guidance in this area from the perspective of a qualitative researcher with hands on experience.

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