Reflection on Transcription

I am a firm believer in learning from experience, rather than explicit instruction. Indexing and transcribing are perfect examples of how beneficial the actual experience is. Initially, I was hesitant. I felt as though I did not fully understand how to complete the assignment, and feared completing it completely wrong. With the instructions being so open-ended, it took the pressure off and allowed me to fully engage in what I thought the process entailed. I found the indexing portion to be a bit difficult, mainly due to the fact that it was just a segment was from the larger interview that had been going on for some time. The first minute or so, I could not fully gauge what the interviewee was talking about, so having some background in terms of what this interview was for would have been helpful. This clip, in particular, was hard to index in the sense that the interviewee would go back and forth between topics consistently. After doing the readings, I felt like the interviewer could have done a better job in keeping the interviewee on track, or being a little more vocal/involved in what they were talking about. I just felt like it lacked some direction. Though difficult, it proved to be extremely helpful when it came to transcribing the interview. It was nice to have an outline of what was going on with the timing to refer back to when needed, which was pretty often for me. The transcription took me between 3 and 4 hours. I was surprised when I saw how much of a time commitment the process would be. I feel like this was mainly due to the difficulty I had in decrypting what the interviewee was saying. His heavy accent proved to be extremely difficult to comprehend. There are many instances where I just could not make out what he was saying, either because it was said under his breath or mumbled through. I felt as though the interviewer probably could not understand him in these instances either, in which case she should have asked him to repeat himself or speak a little bit louder. I was also curious as to whether or not the equipment was being properly used. It sounded muffled for a majority of it, just adding to the difficulty to decipher what he was saying. When it came to writing it down, I had to make a quick decision in how I was going to interpret what he was saying. I chose to not include things like “um” or sighs, since they happened quite frequently though out. I also chose to keep his dialect true to who he was. I did not change tenses where I could have, since I felt as though that was an important aspect of the interview. I did, however, find myself inserting some words in brackets where I felt it needed, especially when it helped to clear up what the topic of conversation was. At the end of the transcription, I had some blank areas where I found it next to impossible to decipher what was being said. Overall, I found this assignment to be beneficial in the sense that it gave me the opportunity to learn from my own mistakes throughout the exercise, and as time went on, I found it to get easier.

1 Response to “Reflection on Transcription”


  1. 1 mal2013 February 17, 2014 at 12:55 pm

    A thoughtful reflection. Hopefully this exercise will prepare you for the peer interview and subsequent interviews with community members that you’ll conduct for your research project.

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The Williamsburg Documentary Project (WDP) strives to collect and preserve the rich past of Williamsburg, Virginia. By conducting oral history interviews, building physical and digital archives, and creating online exhibits, the WDP interprets Williamsburg’s recent past. The WDP works towards developing a better understanding of Williamsburg by bringing together individuals, local groups, Colonial Williamsburg, and the College of William & Mary.

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