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.