If you are doing qualitative research, there is a big chance that you’ll be working with transcripts. As a qualitative researcher, your transcripts are your Data. If fact, Pat Thomson has a great post about data here
I’d add some links to general Data Management sites later, but I thought I’d start with specifically looking at transcript management. Whether you’ve done your transcripts your-self, or you send them to a transcriber, you’ll probably have a word file with something like this:
Interviewer: so tell me about your day
Participant #3: my day? it was just a normal day, I woke up, ate some cereal, went to work. Came home.
Now you’ve got turn them into something that will be useful for your future self, if you choose to add them to a public data archive, or if you want to put them into QDAS (Qualitative Data Analysis Software).
So- first thing. Add a header to your transcripts. You may very well know that this interview took place on March 3, 2013 at the old persons home and you were the interviewer and participant #3 is Mary Jones aged 84- but who else will know this information from your current transcripts? You need to add a header to each transcript so that when your research data is uncovered in 100 years time- whoever picks it up will know immediately a few easy facts. You can play around with the categories but here are the ones I’ve used on my transcripts
Interview Participant Name:
PhD Research Title:
Secondary Researchers (if Present):
Video of Interview:
Audio of Interview:
Participate to remain anonymous:
This information appears in very tiny font (5pt) across the top of every page of each transcript. With a page number at the bottom of course.
Secondly, how have you named your file? Something vague like “Interview transcript 3”? There is alot of information about file naming protocol – but I suggest you name your file so that you could easily (a) use the search function on your computer to locate it without knowing its parent folder and (b) be able to tell its contents without opening the file.
My transcripts are named: transcript_participant_name.docx
There are reasons for using the underscores and there are warning against using .docx extensions – I’ll deal with these in another post.
Thirdly, use of Header Styles within your documents. If you plan to use your transcripts within QDAS (I’m using Nvivo10 but there are plenty of choices) – then header styles will be a big help for auto-coding your transcripts. The usual suggestions is that Interviewer – Header 1 and particpant – Header 2. Do this either whilst you transcribe or inform your transcriber that this formatting is required.
If you are ‘retro-fitting’ a transcript that does not have header styles (yes, this is me. I didn’t think I’d need them and now I need them so I’ve got to back and do it all again) -there are a few short cuts you can do.
Firstly, you need to make sure you’ve got a line break between the Interview or Participant names and the text. So your transcripts should like this:
so tell me about your day
my day? it was just a normal day, I woke up, ate some cereal, went to work. Came home
If you don’t have a line space between Interviewer /Participant name, you can easily insert one via the Find- Replace function in word.
Find: Name Replace with: Name ^p
The little ^p is paragraph mark and tells word to basically do the same as hitting the return key after your name (this saves you scrolling through pages of transcripts to do this)
Now using the Find-Replace function again
Replace: Name [here you need to click through some options. More->Format->Style->Header 1]. You should see “Header 1” appear underneath your “Replace” box.
Things to be careful for- you still need to go through and manually check your transcripts after doing this. Moments where you may have used the participants name in the interview question might suddenly be formatted! You can unformat them by just chosing ‘Normal’ from styles.
Good Luck managing your transcripts.
NB: this isn’t a real transcript- I just made it up to illustrate a point.