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.
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.