Qualitative Research and Transcription
Qualitative research relates to the collection and analysis of non-numerical data. It should not be confused with quantitative research, which mainly consists of numbers. Qualitative data comes from interviews, observations, and surveys which employ open-ended questions to obtain people’s views and opinions.
Which is the fastest way to collect qualitative data? We have to agree that nothing beats audio/video recording. Once you have the information in this format, transcription then comes in to convert your findings into written form, which is easier to analyze.
Transcribing Your Qualitative Research Data
Qualitative research mainly applies to social sciences and humanities, and can touch on subjects such as health, education, history, sociology, and so on. We cannot measure the answers given in qualitative research in numbers. The interviewees respond to the questions in their own words and are free to express themselves as they see fit.
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At the end of the data collection process, you have hours of audio/videos of information. How can you best evaluate such data? By converting it into text through transcription.
Can You Record the Data in Written Form?
You may be considering collecting the data in written form in the first place. While this would work in some instances, it is often cumbersome, time-consuming, and hardly accurate. Can you imagine writing as people speak? Since you cannot write as fast as the interviewees talk, you’ll have to constantly tell them to repeat themselves. Or you’ll attempt to summarize the information and miss out on some of it in the process.
Remember, observation is also a mode of data collection here. And you want to do that without interruption. If you have to stop every couple of minutes to jot things down, you’ll miss out on some details. How about getting the interviewees to write down their views on a questionnaire? This method, too, is limiting since some people lack the skill or time to write. You could end up with a bunch of hardly coherent notes, beating the purpose of collecting the information in the first place. Ultimately, the process will vex the subjects of your interview and yourself, and you’ll end up with compromised data.
The better option here is to let people express themselves by speaking. Record the information and have it transcribed later. The added advantage of letting people talk is that you can pick up non-verbal cues such as tonal variation, facial expressions, and general body language, which gives you a clearer picture on the subject matter.
Make the Most of Your Qualitative Data With Transcription
As a qualitative researcher, you seek to know how people interact with their world. The information here is given to you in words as opposed to numbers. Transcribing the resultant video/audio files enhances the quality of your research in the following ways:
- Text data is more flexible. One can easily edit, reorganize, analyze, compare, and share it.
- Researchers can interpret the data so that concerned parties can understand and act on it.
- Transcribing provides data in an easily accessible format. Text files are small enough to be shared quickly and be opened on almost every device, which may not be the case with audio and video files.
- Written information allows for quick scanning when the reader is only interested in getting the key points.
- Written documents are smaller and thus require less storage space. If you’re running out of hard disc space due to the audio/video files, your solution lies in transcription.
- Are you using software to prepare the final report? You can easily feed text content into data analysis software.
The text files provide an essential backup, whether in soft or hard copy. Should anything happen to the primary files, the research findings remain intact.
If you’re involved in qualitative research, do not hesitate to jump on the transcription bandwagon. Transcribing improves the ways in which you interact and present the search results. And you do not have to hire a transcriptionist. There are several reputable online transcription services for qualitative research that you can get in touch with at the click of a button. Once you’ve collected the information, you’ve done your bit. Let the expert transcriptionists take over and present your research finding in a convenient format.
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