Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

Embodied Transcription: A Creative Method for Using Voice-Recognition Software

Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

Embodied Transcription: A Creative Method for Using Voice-Recognition Software

Article excerpt


Transcription is an aspect of qualitative research that is primarily overlooked in the literature as a critical element of data analysis. The following is an overview of the evolving perspectives and positioning of transcription in qualitative research, including emerging technologies that improve and transform transcription practices. Additionally, I will introduce and describe a new process, Embodied Transcription (ET), including influences that inspired the practice, equipment necessary to achieve ET, and a critique of this present innovation.

The Positioning of Transcription in Qualitative Research

Much frustration could have been avoided and time saved if I had been given some swimming lessons before being thrown in the pool.... Perhaps I could have stopped dreading sooner had I grasped the concept of transcription as a key phase of data analysis, as an acknowledged and integral part of my data interpretation. (Bird, 2005, p. 247)

Literature on qualitative methods, including those texts which serve to train future researchers (e.g., Auerbach & Silverstein, 2003; Creswell, 2007) rarely address transcription as an integral aspect of the research endeavor. Additionally, when transcription is considered, "researchers reporting data collection and analysis procedures seldom make mention of transcription ... beyond a ... statement that ... data were transcribed ... It is as if these researchers, through their neglect in addressing theoretical or methodological transcription issues, assume that transcriptions are transparent" (Lapidat & Lindsey, 1999, p. 65). In agreement with Lapidat and Lindsey, I believe that transcription is, in-and-of-itself, theory-laden and involves initial phases of analysis of collected data. Additionally, I concur with their conclusions: "analysis takes place and understandings are derived through the process of constructing a transcript by listening and re-listening ... Transcription facilitates the close attention and the interpretive thinking that is needed to make sense of the data" (Lapidat & Lindsey, p. 82). These statements reflect the view that the data we collect, transcribe, and analyze may be impacted both by the processes through which transcription is achieved as well as the depth of the researcher's engagement with these processes.

It is beyond the scope of this present text to address debates in the literature (Kvale, 2007; Tilley, 2003) related to the importance of transcribing one's own interview material as opposed to hiring someone to do transcription. However, I frame the discussion put forth here by disclosing my belief that transcription is an essential aspect of data analysis and that a researcher is well served by executing her own transcriptions of interview data. These opinions were two primary inspirations for my development of ET, a process of transcription that utilizes Voice-recognition Software (VRS) to achieve written texts of recorded interviews. Further exploration of the equipment and processes of ET will be addressed later in this paper. However, additional consideration of both transcription and embodiment will be useful to frame the method described herein.

Bird's (2005) trial-and-error experiences with transcription led her to evaluate and elucidate the "landscape of transcription" (p. 227). To this end, she defined several regions of this landscape including (a) transcription as data, (b) transcription as act, (c) transcription as interpretative act, (d) transcription as interpretative analysis, (e) transcription as product, and (f) transcription as peripheral participation (Bird, pp. 227- 232). Especially significant to the discussion at hand, Bird notes a contemporary stance in the field of qualitative research that acknowledges transcription as a political act.

Most qualitative researchers will agree that transcription is the act of (re)presenting original oral language in written form . …

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