Thursday, 14 November 2013

The intersection of data transcription and pulling pig fern

Those of you who have already written a thesis will know this time. I am transcribing my research interviews. It is a black hellhole that no one would ever return to willingly.

Some of you will be aware that I am doing some research into how to most effectively teach using case studies. I did some experiments. I recorded some class sessions. All those recordings need to be transcribed, so I can analyse them for themes. then I get to write up my findings my analysis my interpretation and develop my discussion. Nothing much really.

So what I'm doing now is transcribing. I have been transcribing for two months.

And I'm rubbish at it.

It takes me about four hours to transcribe 15 minutes of recording. And, at the moment, I have 9.68 hours of recordings to transcribe. Argh! That's 155 hours of my time to transcribe all my research data. Then I have to look for themes, code it, and analyse it.

Transcription is very draining. You have to listen very hard, constantly replay the recording to make sure you're being accurate, in fact sometimes you might listen to a piece 10 times before you get it right on paper. Argh!

No wonder researchers say that transcription is the bane of their existence!

You can't concentrate for eight hours of the day just on transcription; your brain would be putty, and the transcription you were doing would be error-ridden. So, to prevent my eyeballs turning into black holes, as it is spring here, I am spending an hour in our gully each day, pulling out pig fern. For those of you who don't know about pig fern, it is a fern that starts with a very small aspect, but if left untended for a couple of years, it turns into this giant bionic monster that covers your land with huge canopies and kills your grass. All I can say is that at least it doesn't have prickles, unlike gorse, supplejack and blackberry (other noxious pests our forefathers cunningly imported to our little South Pacific paradise).

Now, usually, it would take the threat of the espresso machine being hidden to get me out of the house and pulling out pig fern. However, in my current listening-writing-editing-listening mode, I voluntarily go into the gully for an hour a day, just to create yet another break away from transcription.

Of course, I also have other work that I need to do, marking, career advice, lunch, breakfast and dinner, sleep, house work, and people to see.  it surprised me though just how eager I was to get more breaks, and that pulling pig fern suddenly seemed more appealing than being at my computer.

All I can say is that next time I decide to do a big chunk of research, I will get funding so I can pay someone to do the sound-to-text part!


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