Coding through your embarrassment

Coding and reading transcripts can be a cringe worthy experience

Coding and reading transcripts can be a cringe worthy experience

Anyone who has had to listen their own recorded voice will relate to this. It’s the cringe factor and embarrassment of hearing your own voice, mannerisms and ‘research-self’ in your research recordings. I’ve never heard anyone say oh, but I sound wonderful when I listen back to myself in an interivew.

Listening to your voice and ‘verbal habits’ [in my case my constant interruptions of a co-researcher] forever recorded, engraved and soon to be public when I put my interview recordings on a public database is sometimes a gut-wrenching experience. I have literally blushed at my desk whilst re-listening to interview recordings. Even though I changed this behaviour of interrupting my co-researcher during my ‘field research’- when I go back to listen to these interviews – *cringe* – there I am again interrupting.

Possibly worse is when you realise your previous-researcher-interviewer-self who thought that they knew what they doing (e.g. lets lead the topic of conversation away from this interesting but really irrelevant piece of information back the things that I think are important) clashes with your current-researcher-analysis-self !

damn! Why did I interrupt? That story is now highly relevant and I didn’t let the participant flesh out more details for me!

I think this is a factor of audio recording that we all just have to suck up. Unless you have access to funds to go and do a radio presenter course or seriously hone your interview style.

But part of the research process is being the ‘authentic-researcher-you’. You’ve got to make a connection, build trust, feel human to your research participants. This means lots of umms, arhs, and accepting you’ll cringe later. And perhaps consider cutting other researchers a break if you are listening to their recordings.


About Sarina Kilham

I'm a Doctoral Researcher at the Institute for Sustainable Futures, University of Technology Sydney. Trained as a social scientist and with a Masters in Sustainable Agriculture, I'm interested in farmer's experiences of growing feedstock for biodiesel production. My research has focused on biodiesel production in Brazil and Timor-Leste. Also on Twitter @sarinakilham and blogging at
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