Data Analysis: Remembering the Visual

As soon as I press the “play” button on the voice recorder, I begin to type as fast as I can to transcribe the first few words of the interview. I press pause as soon as the recording gets ahead of me, and then repeat the process. Transcription is a bit tedious and there are moments when my fingers stop typing, because I begin to really listen to what is being said. Then, I have to rewind a few seconds back in the recording and type, again.

Having allocated a few hours on the weekends to transcribe, I finally had the opportunity to lay the transcriptions out on my desk and read (multiple times) the words of my interviewees. Multiple readings alone are insufficient to code and analyze. Time also plays an important role in coding the information that I have. There are moments in between classes that I have to pull out my notebook and jot down a note to go back to when I’m looking at the interviews.

Staring at the transcriptions, I almost forgot that I have other senses. One of my professors reminded me that I have eyes. Since I only have audio recordings of the interviews, I made sure to take time after the interviews (not in front of the interviewee) to take notes of body language, the environment of the interview, facial expressions, etc. that seemed significant and accompanied their words. I find more connections when I don’t get completely absorbed in the words themselves. After all, these words are products of individuals who express themselves in a myriad of ways.

One of my goals in this research project is to encompass as much of the individual voice in the analysis as possible without sacrificing the quality of the analysis. Behind each word, each sentence, is a human being who is sharing various moments of their lives.

As I read through the transcriptions, and often re-listen to the recordings, I remember the facial expressions, the pauses, the shifting in their chairs, etc. These are elements that allow me to interpret their words beyond just the words and I hope I can convey that in my writing.