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 ""To Transcribe" or "Not..."" 
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Joined: Mon Sep 13, 2010 1:47 pm
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Post ""To Transcribe" or "Not...""
Title: "To Transcribe" or "Not To Transcribe" Interviews?

Author: Catherine Franz


11 Secrets from an Experienced Interviewer

One of the unwritten rules of writing a book, an article, or any
sort of material that requires the writer to interview experts
or people "in the know" is to tape record the conversation.
Whether the recording occurs via phone or in person is
irrelevant. This rule is a good one.

This leads to the following questions: * Do you transcribe every
tape? * Who owns the transcription?

The answer to these questions does have an "it depends" so let
me explain. It depends on your state’s or countries laws on the
tape recording issue. It depends on the how much you're getting
paid for the project. It depends on whether you can use the
interview notes more than once. It depends whether you are using
interviewing as an escape -- a procrastination technique because
you enjoy that interview process more than the writing.

Okay, we got the "it depends" listed and out of the way. Let me
present a few of my secrets -- the things I have learned as a
writer and teacher over the last many years.

Secret 1: Just because you tape recorded the conversation
doesn't mean you have to transcribe the tape. The tape is a
great safety net for reviews.

Secret 2: You don't need to transcribe the whole tape. Many
times all you need are the important parts.

Secret 3: Tapes are cheap, buy plenty instead of reusing, and
keep them for a few years.

Secret 4: Create a tape master finding system. Microsoft Excel
is a great way to track with a numbering system. Include the
year somewhere in the numbering. Color coding adds visual
effectiveness. Large colored dots are available at most office
supply stores.

Secret 5: The storage container and where you store the tapes is
important as to how long they last. Heat and moisture destroys
the quality. Find small, thin, plastic containers with a tight
seal with a one-layer depth.

Secret 6: Don't place a magnet anywhere near them. So keep the
paperclip magnet and the phone (many have magnets in them) away
from the tapes. Palm Pilots too.

Secret 7: Use rubber bands to consolidate tapes for a similar
project or topic but be careful not to wrap them vertically over
the open part of the tape. Wrap horizontally. After a few years
rubber bands dry out and become brittle.

Secret 8: Delegate the task, it always cheaper either in dollars
or patience. Place an ad at the local college and offer $30 to
$45 per tape. I have found several through the Business Centers
at high schools and community centers. If the interview is rare
or precious, hire a professional service and pay the higher
rate. Have at least 10 ways you can get a tape transcribed
reasonably and fast at your disposal. Start with the Yellow
Pages. Rate them on fastest and quickest. Consider using FedEx
to deliver and pick up the tapes, for safety, and to save time.
I never recommend sending the tape out of your country to save

Secret 9: Don't sign a contract, ever, if they have a clause in
it, "All notes, tapes, materials and transcripts must be turned
over to the publisher." Cross it out and don't agree to this. If
the publisher is paying for the transcription and your time
separately for the interview, they are yours.

Secret 10: Prepare the questions ahead of time and stick to
them. Preparation saves time all around. If you are not sure
what questions to ask, ask the publisher what questions do they
want to have answered when they give you the assignment. It is a
good procedure to provide the questions before hand to the
interviewee. This helps them prepare. If they read from their
typed notes then ask questions differently or drift with one
question then return. They will usually stop reading, think, and
not return to their notes.

Secret 11: If you are a fast typist you will most likely be able
to type and capture 75% of the conversation. Learn to leave out
repetitious information and use a keyboard shorthand. After the
call, review the notes immediately and expand the shorthand. If
you use a common shortcut, use "find and replace" in your word
processor as a time saver. Also explain that you will be typing
their response so that the sound of the keyboard doesn't
distract from the conversation. If you prefer, you can even ask
for permission: "I hope you don't mind, I'm a fast typist so I
prefer to type my notes as we talk." It’s like asking for
permission but not quite.

(C) Copyright 2005, Catherine Franz. All rights reserved.

About the author:
Catherine Franz is a writer and author of over 1800 published
articles, books, and on various subjects. For more:

[Note: Due to size restriction, the subject line's title had to be truncated. Appologies to Catherine Franz. - Admin.]

This article was posted by permission.

Thu Jul 12, 2007 3:00 pm
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