Thoughts, writing & snippets

Marguerite Koole, PhD

From Online Interview to Transcription

mkoole, · Categories: PhD Studies, Research · Tags: , , , ,

I am in the midst of a brief pilot for my PhD research. I am conducting my first two interviews with the intention of ironing out some kinks before fully engaging in data collection. Here are some recommendations and discoveries for anyone else at this stage.

Do a pilot prior to the pilot. Yes, a pilot of a pilot. Thanks to a colleague who is on a similar course at another university here in Alberta, I was able to test the entire process right from the email script, letter of information and consent, to the participant selection survey, and finally through a mock interview. I was careful not to record the mock interview as I wanted to ensure that this process did not fall outside the research ethics guidelines stipulated by both university research ethics committees. (Yes, my project went through two ethics committees.) From this, I was able to test some questions, adjust letters and scripts, correct problems in the survey, etc. The feedback from my colleague was invaluable.

The pilot itself is invaluable. This is where you also use your recording tools and the data counts. Although, the data collected during this phase will be treated separately, it can be included in the final analysis. All your tools will get tested here. This is what I’ve learned:

Two recording devices at once: essential. Obviously if one fails, the other one can save the day. But, there are other benefits. Your recording devices will often use different file formats. For my first pilot interview, I used both Adobe Connect and my LiveScribe pen. In the end, I found the mp4 file format from the LiveScribe pen was the most versatile. However . . .

You may need to convert file formats. I was unable to import the mp4 format into my transcription program. So, I had to convert it. I downloaded Audacity. However, Audacity could not play the mp4. So, I had to locate an add-on for Audacity: FFmpeg. Once installed, I was able to convert the mp4 into a number of different formats. I converted the mp4 into a WAV file and imported it easily into my transcription software.

So, what kind of transcription software did I find? It’s a bit of a long story. In the past, when conducting interviews with Elluminate, well, it was awful. I had to constantly remove my hands from the keyboard to the mouse play and rewind. It was incredibly slow. So, I have ordered an Infinity foot pedal to increase my transcription speed. I am still awaiting its arrival. Since I did not want to wait any longer to start transcribing, I went searching for alternative tools. Audacity did not seem to have a built in window for transcribing while playing the recording, so it would mean manually shifting between windows—and that means mouse movement. Other tools were necessary.

Logically, I know that I eventually want to use nVivo or Atlas-TI for the actual analysis. I settled upon Atlas-TI because they have an incredible offer for students: $99 USD for a single student license. The documentation suggests that it is possible upload and transcribe audio and video files directly. However, it seemed to require certain file types. Sigh. Reading the documentation further, I found that they recommend using free transcription software from audiotranscription.de. It’s free and works like a charm. Using the hot-keys to play, stop, and rewind, I’m wondering if I even need the foot pedal that I’ve ordered. However, their site still recommends using a foot pedal as it should increase transcription speed up to three times. I will see how true that is when my foot pedal arrives.

Now, how to do the actual transcription? Firstly, one must consider the methodology and the requirements of the study. For example, conversation analysis will likely require very detailed transcriptions of pauses, breaths, intonations, and other indicators of linguistic behaviours. Other studies in discourse analysis, phenomenology, and phenomenography for example, might require less linguistic detail. I have decided to learn Jeffersonian transcription notation. Although my study does not require a high degree of detail, I would like to follow standard conventions. So, Jeffersonian it is.

Back to work. My next task is to now review the first pilot transcript and import it into Atlas-TI. (All the while, I am missing this glorious hot summer day—the nicest day we’ve had all year!)

Addendum

Wow. I thought I should add a little more information here. I loaded the RTF document produce by the from audiotranscription.de software. Atlas-TI works with it seamlessly. I can highlight parts of the transcript and Atlas-TI plays it from the externally linked files. Since there is no additional work here to learn how to link the files, I think I will go out for a while and enjoy the day.

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