Archive | January 2014

Another post on taking the slow route…


In November I conducted pilot interviews for my thesis project. They went really well, but it took me 2 months to begin transcribing them. Yesterday I spent an hour transcribing the first 3 minutes by playing the recording in Itunes, and realized there had to be a better (faster) way, so I googled transcribing software. It turns out you can buy voice recognition software, even bilingual (French-English) software, which is what I would need, for 150$, or you can download or purchase for much less, software that plays your recording much more slowly. I am sure there is a blue tooth foot pedal you can get, to make things even easier. I just have to keep looking (if anyone has a lead on that, let me know!). So with my less frustrating free trial version of Transcribe! I was able to get through another 4 minutes in 2 hours. 3 hours = 7 minutes. That’s pretty dismal, but I started to imagine what would happen if I had the expensive software, or had paid someone else to do my transcribing and was only reading it over for accuracy. Kaomea (2003) talks about using narrative and arts-based research to slow down our perceptions and uncover taken for granted assumptions, power dynamics, and oppressive processes within a post-colonialist frame of reference. As this is what I am trying to do with my research, the painful slowness of the transcribing process is not something I want to avoid, or even speed up (though I would like that foot pedal!), because I need to work this slowly to notice that the mom used the word “control” in reference to her daughter’s ability to adjust to kindergarten 4 times (in 7 minutes), or that there’s a contradiction between her view of her daughter of capable and competent and her fear of the school as an “unknown” place full of strangers where the children (other than her daughter) will have a hard time as they are left on their own to navigate the new space. Inspired by Andrews et al. (2008), Chase (2005), Riessmann (2007), and Wells (2011), my rather ambitious plan is to analyze my interviews 4 times, each time focusing on a different aspect:

1. The micro context (what happens between myself and the interviewee/narrator)

2. The content

3. The structure (how the story is told, using aspects of literary analysis)

4. The macro context (how the narrator makes use of metanarratives and counternarratives)

In my thesis proposal, I explain that I will read and analyse each transcription four times, but as I spent 3 hours listening to 7 minutes of conversation, I realized that by the time I finish transcribing, I will have already  begun all four of the analyses. Also, I realized that my somewhat ambitious project is actually feasible, and enjoyable, and exciting. So, yet again, I’ll be taking the long, slow route to PhD completion.

Let’s just hope the recruitment process is not painfully slow as well!

Andrews, M., Squire, C. & Tamboukou, M. (Eds.) (2008). Doing narrative research. London: Sage.

Chase, S.E. (2005). Narrative inquiry : Multiple lenses, approaches, voices. Dans N.K. Denzin et Y.S. Lincoln (Eds.) The Sage handbook of qualitative methods, third edition (p.651-679). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Kaomea, J. (2003). Reading erasures and making the familiar strange : defamiliarizing methods for research in formerly colonized and historically oppressed communities. Educational Researcher, 32 (2), 14-25. Retrieved from:

Riessman, C.K. (2007). Narrative methods for the human sciences. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Wells, K. (2011). Narrative inquiry. Oxford: Oxford University Press.