In the task of knowing people through their habits and purchasing decision processes, many means are used to collect data and information. Within quantitative studies, electronic questionnaires and sheets of paper marked with pens or crayons are usually used. This is possible because it is enough to capture short answers and some information without further depth.
The situation is different with qualitative studies. When it comes to focus groups or in-depth interviews, more elements of communication matter, such as the expressions, interactions and reactions of the participants among themselves and with the ideas presented by the person who moderates the activities. For this reason, the sessions are recorded. However, in addition to serving as evidence of the conduct of the interviews, they help us for other subsequent tasks.
Analysts perform a great task in qualitative projects. From the beginning they must know the planning of the study in order to master in great detail the topic guide that serves as a general guideline for an activity with the interviewees. It is not usually applied literally since the moderators know that in each contact there are individual circumstances that allow them to collect all the ideas that the project pursues without having to reiterate information that may have already been provided spontaneously.
During the interviews, the moderator must be aware of several factors such as the topic guide itself, reading expressions, dealing with the interviewee, the clock, and real-time questions from other members of the research team and clients. As can be guessed, this task prevents the analyst in charge of interviewing someone from being fully attentive to all the interviewee’s statements. This is where the value of the recording and its transcription come into play.
Transcripts are texts that capture all the sayings in a session with their corresponding timestamps and with the annotations of who said each message. These files are fundamental for analysts because it allows them to review ideas that they only had the opportunity to recognize, but not to deepen after applying the interviews. However, this product involves some considerations.
Although today we have digital solutions that are capable of transforming audio to text with extraordinary results compared to their predecessors from a few years ago, it is also true that they do not do all the transcription work in their full concept. The work of human analysts is still required to review the results of the applications and correct the words or phrases that require it. Likewise, elements that do not help the interpretation of the sessions should be eliminated, such as speech fillers, involuntary errors or messages unrelated to the discussion that were recorded.
Nor can we forget that transcripts often need to be translated into other languages. It is for this reason that there will be times when the interpreter or transcriber will have to convert into a clearer and simpler language ideas that were expressed with great repetition or with a very personal syntax. Otherwise, there is a risk of making the translation more difficult with many ideas converted to another language without preserving their original meaning.
Developing transcripts is a task that, even with the advancement of technology, involves a lot of human work. For each unit of recording time several times more than equivalent units are required because it is not enough to listen to a certain idea once to get the final transcription. On some occasions, the transcripts can take at least a week after the end of the session to be available for analysis and/or translation.
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