How to Record and Transcribe Large Group Discussion Audio for Qualitative Research

My Participatory Action Research involves a series of two-hour, large group meetings. I needed to find a way to record these sessions and transcribe them so that I could then upload them into Dedoose–my Qualitative Data software for coding.

Here is how I did it. This is not the only, nor necessarily the best, way to do it, but it worked well for me.

All of these steps are written in the first person. I…

  1. borrowed a Zoom Handy Recorder H2 from by friend, Jonathan Orwig. ((the fancy little tripod is sold separately. Fortunately, Jonathan had it as well. Thanks, Jonathan!))Zoom Microphone
  2. purchased a 16GB SD Card that is dedicated to these audio recording sessions and placed it in the bottom of the Zoom.Zoom with SD Card
  3. plugged the recorder into a long extension cord, plugged the extension cord into the wall, and placed the recorder in the center of the room. We always began our sessions sitting in a circle, so it was well positioned to capture everything. ((the people quickly forget that the recorder is there))
  4. turned the recorder on with the power switch on the side.
  5. set the recorder on the “2CH” setting. This allowed it to record from both sides, thus picking up the whole room equally.
  6. pressed the red button once to initialize a new recording. The red light will flash repeatedly to indicate stand-by mode. Pressed the red button A SECOND TIME, to begin recording. ((this is crucial. I practiced once in another meeting and forgot this step, thus did not record anything. I’m so glad I practiced!))
  7. let the recording run continuously for the whole meeting, even through the breaks. That way I wouldn’t forget to turn it back on. The recorder can handle hours and hours of recording.
  8. pressed the red button to stop recording.
  9. powered off the recorder with the power switch on the side.
  10. removed the SD card from the recorder by pressing it in and letting it pop out.
  11. placed the SD card in a Targus USB reader/writer.SD Card USB Interface
  12. plugged the Card Reader into a USB 2.0 port on my Mac Pro computer.SD USB plugged into Mac Pro
  13. Transferred the file from the SD card onto my hard drive in a folder labeled “Cohort Session Audio” and renamed the file “Session0*”.transfer file
  14. opened the App “ExpressScribe.”ExpressScribe
  15. dragged the .wav file from Finder into Express Scribe. It automatically formatted.
  16. highlighted the file and was ready to go.
  17. opened Scrivener ((this is the software I use to write my dissertation. It is amazing.))Scrivener and ExpressScribe on Mac Pro
  18. created a new document in Scrivener titled “Session0* Audio Transcript”.
  19. the beauty of Express Scribe is that a) it automatically enhances the file for voice, and b) it allows you to control the audio file while in your word processing file. Press F5 to play, F6 to stop, F7 to rewind, and F8 to fast forward.
  20. spent hours playing, listening, stopping, typing, rewinding, listening, playing, stopping, typing, ad nauseum, until the entire session was transcribed. I did this for six sessions.

Fun times!

That’s how I recorded and transcribed my large group sessions. Thanks for reading. Happy Research!