Test recording quality very critically
What appears to be “good” recording quality on a quick listen may prove to be problematic or difficult to transcribe on a closer listen. Therefore, please be super critical about the recording quality. We speak from our own painful experience: the smallest beep or noise gets on your nerves when typing for hours and costs valuable concentration. Speech recognition becomes almost useless with poor or mediocre recordings, and only with really good recordings do you start to save time. Therefore: Especially with cell phone recordings, make two 2-minute test recordings beforehand and transcribe them manually and also convert them into text with automatic speech recognition. In this way, you can quickly determine whether the recording quality created in this way is also usable for interview material.
By the way: We have compiled tips on how to create really good recordings for group interviews.
Apply transcription rules
Before transcribing for a scientific project, you should always consult a scientific system of rules that determines how and what you actually transcribe from what you hear. Because it can make a decisive difference whether you transcribe the answer to the question “Are you happy?” with “Yes” or a bit more detailed with “um puh seufz (3 seconds pause) (crosses arms) so hmm joah seufz”. Transcription rules dictate what must be transcribed and how. There are different rules, and you choose them according to your research question. The more the simple content is concerned, the simpler the rule system is usually chosen. A very common system, the content-semantic transcription system, can be found in our practice book free of charge and citable for reference starting on p. 21. There you will also find hints for more complex rules. And finally, you will learn to love transcription – and if not, here are a few suggestions: “…how I learned to love transcription” describes Cindy M. Bird here.
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Observe data protection
Most interviews contain personal data and therefore fall under data protection. A simple consent to the question “May I record you?” is NOT sufficient here. And of course, Dropbox or unencrypted sending by mail are also taboo. A template for a DSGVO-compliant declaration of consent and a data protection checklist for interview recordings are available for download.
Use transcription software
In most cases, you will not be able to avoid typing everything yourself by hand. But then you shouldn’t do this with the media player and Word, because they lack important functions that speed up the process. Make your life easier and use slowdown, auto-return, time stamps and keyboard shortcuts. This saves a lot of time.