Hello All,

I'd like to open a discussion on transcription based on the reading of an
article in the recent issue of Qualitative Inquiry -- Vol 5 No 1 -- by
Lapadat and Lindsay on Transcription in Research and Practice.

What are people's experiences with transcription of interview texts? What
are the trade-offs of having them transcribed by an objective, external
transcriber vs doing the transcription yourself? Is there an alternative
approach to Lapadat and Lindsay, who in essence indicate that transcription
is methodology and that researchers should do own transcribing in order to
stay close to the data and that coding starts with transcription?

I can start with my own experiences. I prefer to transcribe my own
interviews -- it does keep me close to the data and I do start coding in
conceptualizing through the process. I also have a pretty good memory and
can go back to any interview based on a key word that I recall or key
concepts that I identified in any one text so that when I start searching
for who said what, it's not difficult for me to go directly tot he source.
It also means that I can recapture the interview tone while listening to the
tapes when I transcribe them. The main problem is that I'm a slow typist
and it takes me forever to transcribe texts -- about 2 - 4 times longer than
a transcriptionist.

Currently, I'm working on a research project in which everything is
transcribed verbatim by a professional -- time and money constraints made it
prohibitive for me to do all the interviews, transcribe them, and the
analysis. There were 4 interviewers, a transcriptionist, and I'm the
"analyst". There were 78 interview documents, 3000 pages of text.
Interviews were done in several different states and tapes mailed to the
transcriber who did an immediate turn around on them, e-mailed me the
transcripts, and mailed the tapes to me. I conducted about 6 interviews.
When I received the tapes and transcripts I read and listened to each of
them -- and have read them several times over and listened to the tapes
several times. I feel that I am still close to the data, have not lost the
interview tone, and that the process worked very well. I was able to talk
with the transcriptionist on a regular basis and we discussed some of her
"insights" based on what she heard and how she heard it -- bringing a
different perspective to the information and affirming what I thought I was
hearing about compassion, dedication, commitment that was not talked about
but that came through in interviewees' intonation, etc.

What are other people's experiences? I'd be curious to know.

Mary Annese
Research Specialist
The Casey Family Program