Are you planning to transcribe your dissertation interviews and wondering how long it’s going to take? I’m going to be honest. Transcription is a soul destroying nightmare! It’s the PhD bane. And takes forever. So if you’re easily frustrated, make sure to bolt your laptop down or you might find it sailing out of your window. With 10 years transcribing experience, I am going to share the 3 factors that determine how long it’s going to take you to transcribe your dissertation research interviews . And offer some tips that’ll make you feel less like “slitting your own throat.” Hell, you might actually begin to enjoy transcribing your research interviews.

3 Factors that Determine how Long it takes to Transcribe a Dissertation Interview.

  1. You.

Yes, you. Your skills, typing speed, and your character are going to major factors on how soon you can get the transcription of your interviews done and move on to analysis/coding. If this is your first time transcribing interviews, it’s going to take you about 10 hours to transcribe 60 minutes of audio. And that’s on a good day. If you hate repetitive tasks, you’re going to loath transcription.

A few tips to help you out. 1. Learn how to touch type. If you are not a touch typist, transcription is going to be an arduous process. And learning how to touch type is going speed up your dissertation writing. 2. Start early. Begin transcribing your interviews as soon as you can. If possible while you are “in the field.” 3. Transcribing is a marathon, not a 100 meter sprint. Pace yourself. I never transcribe for more than an hour without taking a break. My transcription routine is 55 minutes of transcribing , take a 5 minute break; repeat 8 times. You need to find your own routine. 4. Set daily targets and make sure you hit them. Start with 30 minutes every day, small chunks help a lot, and increase the target as you get better at transcribing. 5. Finally, budget transcription time into your dissertation analysis and writing process. If you have conducted 30-1 hour interviews, you are going to need about 30 days to transcribe them. Be realistic and budget that into your dissertation deadline.

  1. Equipment.

Having the right equipment is going to really speed up transcribing your research interviews. I’ll assume that you have digitally recorded your interviews. If not you will need to find an old transcription machines that take tapes. Best of luck (check your local museum – they might help).interview-transcription-services

To transcribe digital interviews you are going to need a computer and software. I recommend that you get a transcribing software called F4 – it will allow you to slow the play speed of the interview, and play and pause in the background while you type into your favorite word processing program. That will save you a lot of time. Get in touch and I’ll email you a free copy of F4.

A quick word on speech recognition software (Dragon et al). They don’t work. They are not designed to work with audio with multiple speakers or lectures.

A pair of good headphones is a great asset to have. I also recommend you transcribe your interviews on a desktop or if you are going to use a laptop, place it on a desk. Keep in mind you are going to be typing for hours on end, so maintain an ideal typing posture. A foot pedal – used to control the audio, can be helpful. Used one a couple of years ago, but only notice a slight (5%) increase in my transcription rate. Broke down after a year or so: still thinking about getting a replacement.

  1. Quality of the recording.

Getting the best quality recording possible while conducting your interviews is a great way to reduce the amount of time it will take for you to transcribe them. If you need to keep rewinding the recording in order to make out what your interviewee said, that’s really going to slow you down.

Clear recording also increase the accuracy of your transcripts and hence the reliability of your research data. I wrote a great post on how to record your research interviews that you can find here.

By following these few tips, and sticking with it, you should be able to cut down the time it takes you to transcribe an hour of your dissertation interviews from 10 hours to 5 hours within a couple of weeks. And if all fails; get in touch. I’ll be more than happy to transcriber your dissertation research interviews for you.

4 thoughts on “Dissertation Interview Transcription – How long does it take?

  1. debie

    Hi thanks for this post i will be willing to have the free copy of the F4 software that you prescribed thanks for sharing the post you are great

    1. Isaac Post author

      Hi Debbie, send me an email at contact @ [name of site] and I’ll be happy to share F4 software with you.
      Isaac.

  2. Elsa Anaya

    Isaac,
    Please send me a copy of the F4 software. Thanks so much. I am starting my dissertation transcriptions.

    1. Isaac Post author

      Email me and I’ll send you a dropbox link.

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