Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

Opening the Ears That Science Closed: Transforming Qualitative Data Using Oral Coding

Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

Opening the Ears That Science Closed: Transforming Qualitative Data Using Oral Coding

Article excerpt

The purpose of this article is to describe an alternative method for transcribing and transforming (analyzing and interpreting) oral data collected from interviews. Rather than record and then immediately transcribe data, the "oral coding" approach relies on a Three-Phase Approach. Phase One involves extended and reflective listening to the original interview data. This extended time with data in its original oral form enables researchers to construct both propositional and tacit knowledge in relation to the phenomenon being investigated. Intensive encounters with the original data are continued during the Second Phase of analysis and interpretation by re-recording on another device those segments that are thought to be potentially thematic as well the researcher's own reflective and interpretive comments in relation to these segments. Finally, in Phase Three, using a combination of keyboarding and optionally voice recognition software, both in vivo quotes and researcher reflections are transcribed to text and organized by research question. This entire Three Phase process is intended to transform raw data into understandable accounts by allowing researchers to "hang on" to the original oral data for an extended time thus delaying reduction to text and thereby enabling researchers to capture participant nuances conveyed through tone, inflection, volume, pause, and emphases. Consequently, this method may have the potential to promote a higher degree of credibility and trustworthiness. Experience to date provides limited support for this process based on a previously published article (Bernauer, Semich, Klentzin, & Holdan, 2013) that used both traditional and oral coding and another article (Bernauer, 2015) that used only oral coding. It is hoped that colleagues try out this method and "transform" it based on their own creative insights. Keywords: Coding, Oral Coding, Tacit Knowledge, Transforming Data

This article is based on a paper presented at the 6th Annual Qualitative Report Conference on January 9, 2015 at Nova Southeastern University. It also draws on the article Reflections on Catholic Education in the USA: A Dialogue Across Generations from the 1950s to the 2000s (Bernauer, 2015) where I first formalized the steps in "oral coding."

The first part of the title of this article ("Opening the Ears that Science Closed") is intended to convey the changes that have occurred in the way that I now approach phenomena based on my journey from quantitative to qualitative researcher. I previously described this journey elsewhere in detail (Bernauer, 2012) so I will draw on it here only when it seems appropriate. However, I am finding that new manifestations of these changes arise as this journey continues in real time and I have come to think that the development of "oral coding" is the most recent manifestation. Apparently, the effects of having been "trained" to conduct research using quantitative methods based on the rationalistic paradigm (although I was not aware at the time that I was under this or any other paradigm nor that an equally valid naturalistic paradigm even existed!), has had a more powerful and persistent effect on my way of thinking and acting than I thought. I have most recently become aware of the impact of this paradigm based on what I now perceive to be the often mechanical application of the "scientific method" and its consequent narrowing effect on our capacity to appreciate the complexities that exist in the social "sciences" especially with respect to trying to further understand that most complex of phenomena - human beings and the organizations and societies that they create.

I first began to recognize my emerging paradigmatic transition from quantitative to qualitative methods a few years ago and I used "twists" to mark important turning points (Bernauer, 2012) as exhibited in this segment.

Although Twist 11 describes the most significant writing effort in terms of its impact on identity, I came to recognize another interesting but-until-the timeof-this-writing, unknown, subconscious behavioral characteristic that I adopted in relation to collaboration with colleagues. …

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