If you have rummaged through this site, (which you should – it has great tips on how to make your qualitative research a success), you’ll have noticed that it lacks an about me page. And that’s because I am client-centric. This site is not about me, an academic transcriber. It’s about You, the researcher. It’s about helping YOU, again, have a successful research project. My sole aim to provide a transcription service that assists researchers achieve their research goals – and I want to help you make your research experience better and easier.

Recently though, I had a chat with a researcher from California. I am transcribing his dissertation interviews and he asked me, “Don’t you find transcription monotonous, a chore?” I “interpreted” the question and began.

I had just completed the first year of my masters study in developmental anthropology. I realized I was never going to be a developmental anthropologist. I mean, it was pretty obvious that “outsider led development” is hegemonic and leaves local communities with less agency. And if I was ever hired to plan/implement a development project, the only recommendation I could fathom making was – don’t start or stop/end the project!

So I knew I’d never work for NGOs or the civil service and couldn’t see myself being a professor. And yet I had to find a job where I could make a living and not spend the rest of my life hating Monday mornings.

I knew I had lots of skills, and was looking for something that I could do that I enjoyed. I’d transcribed my first interview as an undergrad in 2000, and worked for a transcription company for 3 years. In between other jobs I could always find freelance transcription work. In 2011 I decided to become a full-time freelance transcriber.

In the last 3 years I have transcribed a lot of interview, focus group discussions, lectures, conference presentations, Skype calls, podcasts, the list is endless. I even offered YouTube subtitling and captioning services. Then I realized what I loved transcribing most were stories.

Stories about how Maasai everyday practices are altered by tourist visits. Or how entrepreneurs in New York form startups that have a social purpose. Stories of how an artist finds meaning in barbed wire buried in the Alabama. Stories of coming ‘to being’  of women tattoo artists in Chicago, or of the ideology of Hezbollah in Lebanon. Or how women endangered change during the Arab Spring. And more and more stories.

Stories that enrich my life. Stories that move me. And I get paid to listen to these wonderful stories: I feel privileged to be an integral part of research teams.Academic-Transcription

Now, Mondays are my favorite days – and I hate Fridays. I never struggle to get out of bed, and have to force myself to go to bed (I have a 11:00pm curfew).

No, I don’t find academic transcription a chore. I enjoy it and see myself being a transcriber for a very long time. And I thought this story of my life was worth sharing with you. If you like it, simply leave a comment.

4 thoughts on “About Me – Academic Transcriber Par Excellence

  1. Lona Roberts

    I wonder if you would have any possible transcriptionist openings? Further information is available upon request.

    Thank you for your time and trouble.

    1. Isaac Post author

      Lona, I do not outsource transcription to other transcribers. Sorry.


  2. Marilyn

    Thanks for sharing your amazing story of discovering your niche in life. I am always fascinated by how people seem to stumble into the gifts that make them happy and contented when they are not searching for it…It had always been there. I guess that is why you were pursuing anthropology…the sheer love for the human experience. I am currently getting my dissertation ready for IRB approval and may contact you for transcription services for my interviews. I stumbled upon your page while looking for audio devices to record my interviews!
    Best wishes

    1. Isaac Post author

      Glad that you found the post interesting. I wrote it because a client wanted to know more about me and thought other people might be interested… And you are right on the mark on human experience, it’s what drives us as anthropologists.
      Get in touch if you need my assistance with your dissertation – I’ll be happy to assist.


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