Sage advice on recording & transcribing equipment

The following from my UBC colleague Steven Talmy:

For multiparty talk such as that in focus group interviews, I find it best to use both a DVD recorder for picture and a high quality digital audio recorder. The video, though optional, can help with gesture/gaze/proxemics and so on, while the audio recorder provides the primary data source for transcription. Any DVD recorder can provide picture; for audio, I’ve found it’s better to spend a bit more for good quality. I have been super happy with my Roland Edirol R-09HR, though I don’t think they’re still making them. Something like the Zoom H4n looks like it would be a good replacement.

You upload your audio files from SD card to your PC/Mac, save the master, and work with a duplicate file for transcription. I’ve used several transcription applications… For audio, I use Audacity for microanalysis (freeware). For less fine-grained audio transcription, Express Scribe is great (freeware). I use a footpedal with Express Scribe, along the lines of this one: .

Other options for audio transcription apps: Adobe Audition: (pricey!!); F4 audiotranscription: (freeware); Sound Writer and Voice Walker (freeware; but old apps); Transcriber AG: (freeware).

There’s also Dragon Naturally Speaking, which is a talk-to-text application, but it’s not great for interview transcription (you have to listen to your audio file, repeat what it said on it, which DNS then transcribes… and with the latest versions of DNS (11 and 12), there are some unresolved problems with Word integration).

If you wind up wanting to do video transcription, then Transana is in my experience the best out there ($50).

2 thoughts on “Sage advice on recording & transcribing equipment

  1. As an “old school” qualitative researcher, I don’t understand the need to record at all?? I’ve done focus groups using the Krueger method which has worked out just find and participants don’t feel bound to what they’ve said in a way that is recorded for posterity. And, for individual interviews, I take very good field notes, and then write a more lengthy note after it’s over. It’s certainly cheaper and really keeps me focused on the data and not reading a transcription, which I personally don’t find reflects “me” as the instrument of the study. And, I believe I’ve had great success with doing it this way, and didn’t spend a dime!

  2. I really should have said that the interaction between me and the participant is the source of data ultimately, but fundamentally, I am the “instrument” though that may be an uncomfortable word for some in the qualitative researching world??

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