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Qualitative Data Analysis: Transcription

Resources on conducting qualitative data analysis

Transcription as an Act of Analysis

While transcription is often treated as part of the data collection process, it is also an act of analysis (Woods, 2020). When you manually transcribe an interview, for example, you make choices about how to turn the recording of the interview into text, and these decisions shape the analysis you conduct. 

For example, if you host a focus group, a transcription that just includes the words spoken by the participants loses data about the interaction between them. You may decide to ensure that your transcription includes details on interactions (which would take more time or resources) or decide that interaction information is not relevant to your analysis. This decision is influenced by your methodology and research goals, and should be recognized as a part of your analysis process. 

Planning and communicating the transcription process is further complicated when the researcher works in a research team, asks participants to discuss sensitive topics, occurs in a cross-cultural environment, or when the transcript must be translated into another language (Clark et al, 2017). Published research reports rarely include significant detail about the transcription process, but if you find yourself in one of these situations, it may be worth seeking works in your discipline that address best practices for transcription, data management, participant relationships, and translation, such as Clark et al's (2017) work on developing a transcription and translation protocol for sensitive and cross-cultural team research. 



Transcription Tools

The MAXQDA is the same across Mac and Windows devices. 

There are companies that will create transcripts from media files on your behalf, usually for a by-minute fee. 

If you decide to use one of these options, you should ensure that the security of data shared with these services is in compliance with your IRB protocol and consent obtained from any participants. 

Do you have experience with any paid transcription services that you think would be worth adding to this list? Please share your experience with me

Cited on this page

Clark, L., Birkhead, A. S., Fernandez, C., & Egger, M. J. (2017). A transcription and translation protocol for sensitive cross-cultural team research. Qualitative Health Research, 27(12), 1751–1764.

Woods, D. Presentation in: Christina Silver, Phd. (2020, December 4). CAQDAS webinar 005 Transcription as an analytic act. [Video].