RE: OT? Recording Interviews

Subject: RE: OT? Recording Interviews
From: "John Locke" <mail -at- freelock -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 8 Nov 2000 22:59:52 -0800

> skwpt wrote:
> >
> > Does anyone use a microcasette recorder when
> > interviewing SMEs? As a newbie interviewer, I find
> > recording works well for me because it ensures I
> > haven't missed anything in my hand-written notes.
> > (And, yes, the SME *does* know he or she is being
> > recorded.)

And Bruce added:

> Recording is useful, but I'd suggest that anyone using a recorder
> continue to take notes as well.

I wholeheartedly agree with Bruce here... I've found recording long in-depth
sessions with SMEs to be a great boon, but mostly as a review for things I
might have missed the first time around. I turn on the recorder and then
forget that it's there, asking as many questions as necessary to understand
the subject during the interview. I only listen to the recordings AFTER I've
written a draft of the topic. I've found that if I listen to the recordings
while reading through the draft, I catch a lot of issues before it goes to
further technical review.

But I don't recommend micro-cassettes. Spend the money and get a good
quality recorder. I've used a Sony professional recording walkman for years.
I paid around $230 for it, and it came with a good external microphone. It
uses normal cassettes, not micro-cassettes.

I've recently purchased a digital recorder. The great thing about digital
recordings is that you don't have to fast forward or reverse to get to the
part of the tape you want to hear--you copy it to your computer, and then
just click in roughly the area you want and click the play button. The
recorder I have is designed for voice transcription, so it's of reasonable
quality. I do find that using a good microphone is crucial, though--recorded
conversations with the built-in mic are almost unintelligible.

Whatever you choose, make sure to get a professional quality microphone, and
test it out before you rely on it. As convenient as my digital recorder is,
my professional tape recorder captures a much better sound. If you're in an
area with a lot of background noise, don't skimp.

Hope that helps!

John Locke

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