Tuesday

Transcribing interviews

One of the most time consuming tasks related to qualitative research is that of transcribing interviews. Of course one can pay someone else to do the job, but graduate students on meager bursaries hardly have an option other than doing the hard work themselves.
People stare at me when I say that, but I actually like transcribing my own interviews. I believe listening to an interview or audio file brings much richer insights than reading a transcription. When you take the time to listen to your informants in detail (something that usually doesn't happen during the interview, at least for me), you learn a good deal more about what's being said - and what's not being said. The voice, the tones and pauses, the laughing and background sounds are all information that you can take into account when analyzing an interview. They are usually not well translated into text.
I recently spent some time testing different transcription software and decided to stick to one developed by two PhD. students in Germany (well, they've got their degrees by now), which is called F4.
The name of the software says it all - that's the key you're going to hit to pause, play, and repeat the audio. F3 rewinds and F5 forwards. Each time you pause, it will start a few words back on the audio, so you can keep a good typing pace without losing any word. You can type on a word document, use shortcuts to enter different icons for interviewer and interviewees, and it interacts with Mac, Windows, and Linux. There is also a foot switch option that goes with it.
I really like it, and recommend it. It's free (you can help them with a small donation), quick to download, and really simplifies the task. If you're doing the hard work yourself, check it out!

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