MODE and NOVELLA students collaborate on transcription workshop

Authors: Berit Engøy Henriksen, Kate Cowan (MODE), Catherine Walker & Jolyon Winter (NOVELLA)

Last week we completed a four-part doctoral student workshop series entitled “Transcription: issues of selection and representation”. The sessions have covered topics such as transcription of audio and audiovisual data, representation of data for analytical and publication purposes, ethics and key debates in transcription.

When we first started as NCRM PhD students on the MODE and NOVELLA projects we formed a joint reading group, which has been a valuable forum for discussing key texts and theories, but also a place to share any methodological problems we are dealing with in our research. Transcription was a recurring theme, since all of us grappled with issues of selecting and representing data. As we found solutions and answers to some of our questions, we wondered if other doctoral students could benefit from our experiences, and so the first cross-nodal workshops were created.

Practical examples from our doctoral projects linked to MODE and NOVELLA formed the core of the workshops. In week one we encouraged participants to reflect on the purpose transcription serves in their own work, as we discussed some of the key historic debates within the field of transcription. Week two focused on the ways we have transcribed interview data, for example, how Catherine transcribed audio files in one and two languages, and how Jolyon experienced transcription of phone interviews. In the third workshop, Kate shared her experience of transcribing video data, presenting a variety of ways in which she has transcribed a single video extract. The final week focused on representing texts, artefacts and online material, with examples from Catherine’s work using maps and images, Jolyons analysis of homepages, and Berit’s work representing social media data to facilitate analysis and publications. This session also included a discussion of ethical issues related to transcription, and some thoughts on the future of transcription in light of increasing digital dissemination of research.

A key part of the workshop series was discussion and interaction with participants, as they shared their own experiences and questions with the group. The aim of the workshops were not to give participants a final answer to questions such as “How do I transcribe my data?” or “How do I deal with ethics in transcription?”, but rather to create a space for engagement and reflection on decision-making in relation to transcription, as this is a topic which ties us together as qualitative researchers. Our own experience of the workshops and the positive feedback from participants suggest that we successfully achieved our aim, and we are now considering ways of repeating the workshops and continuing our cross-Node methodological collaboration.

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3 responses to “MODE and NOVELLA students collaborate on transcription workshop

  1. Thank you for posting this Berit. Co-facilitating these workshops was a really valuable experience for me personally, helping me to crystallise my thinking around issues of selection and representation in my own work. What we gained from the experience both collectively and individually, as well as the positive and constructive feedback from participants, I think exemplifies the potential of collaborating across disciplines that is emphasised when undertaking an NCRM PhD. Casting the net wider to bring more doctoral students into interdisciplinary discussion was really exciting. I am really looking forward to further developing these workshops alongside our different evolving projects. Thank you friends!

  2. I would agree with Joe – these workshops felt exciting to be involved in, and most definitely time well spent. I enjoyed co-facilitating the workshops whilst completing transcriptions of different activities and whilst grappling with the some of the challenges we discussed across the workshops. I also valued the peer-to-peer interactions and the spirit of collaboration and shared learning that to me seemed to characterise the workshops, perhaps an artefact of the collaboration involved in planning and designing the sessions. Having a good network of PhD students around me has been something I’ve valued about my experience at IOE and as an NCRM PhD student from the start, and these workshops served to exemplify for me, once again, the value of students coming together to share and discuss our developing research practices as PhD peers and soon to be Early Career Researchers.

  3. Although we have often met together and discussed our own methods and methodologies (narrative for NOVELLA, and multimodality for MODE), it’s really been through designing, planning and delivering the inter-node workshops on transcription that I’ve felt a better understanding of narrative research, as well as clarity about my own multimodal approach and rationale. It seems that looking at one particular part of the research process – transcription – in close detail, and in light of our various own research aims and questions, has been particularly useful in highlighting commonalities between us – for instance, in the partiality of all data, and inevitable selectivity – but also important differences – such as how our interests and theories influence choices about how we each represent our data. It has been a really helpful process personally in terms of reflecting on my own research, and also hopefully for using our methods-focused PhD experiences as NCRM students to encourage methodological reflection around issues of transcription in participants’ own work.

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