Research interviews – will the transcribing ever end?

As mentioned in a previous post, I’m currently working on a short research piece as part of my MA.  As part of this, I’ve carried out (for the first time ever), a series of interviews looking at social media and social capital.

I have to admit, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience – there were specific questions I wanted to investigate, so I started off by writing out the questions, and then tried to figure out how I could ask questions of the interviewees that would lead me to the areas I was investigating, but without ‘leading the witnesses’ so to speak.

Once I’d come up with about 10 questions, I bought myself an inexpensive, but reliable, dictaphone, and I was all set (well, sort of!)

I was horribly nervous before doing the first interview, so I picked someone I knew well, just in case it all went horribly wrong. Luckily, it flowed really well and lasted about 25 minutes.  One thing I did pick up was to have a pen and paper to hand – if the interviewee said anything interesting, but that didn’t fit with the current question, I made a note, and was then able to go back to it later in the interview.

I’ve interviewed four people now, and each has been very different. One I found difficult to keep succinct, and, equally, one person started off giving one word answers, and I had to wait until they relaxed before I started to tease out really useful information.

I’ve almost finished transcribing them all now, and I can honestly say, whatever you read online about it taking three times longer to transcribe than the actual length of the interview, don’t believe it… It actually takes much, much longer… I touch type and it still feels like I’ve been transcribing for months.  At a rough guess I would say it takes around 6 times as long to transcribe.

Once you get to the point of Analytics have a look at this University of Surrey page – they have given a really helpful guide to breaking down the analytics.

Here are some ideas for tips if you’re doing research interviews:

  • Always have a list of questions to hand, to keep the interview flowing
  • Have a pen and paper so you can make notes as you go and come back to any interesting points
  • Check your recorder has spare batteries, is working well and is picking up both voices.  If it’s a super important interview, have two recorders
  • Create a dedicated space for the interview – somewhere quiet, and comfortable, preferably with a table for the recorder and paper
  • Make sure both of you have bottles of water – talking is thirsty work!

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