Posted by: Dorianne Cotter-Lockard | 29 April 2008

Nitty Gritty on Interview Research

My esteemed colleague Wendy is about to embark upon her interview research and asked me for more detail about recording and transcribing interviews, so here’s what I’ve learned:

  • Invest in a good digital recorder – mine is a Sony ICD-P520 and cost about $52 at Amazon. It comes with software that you load onto your laptop and a cable to upload your digital recordings. Once you’ve uploaded the interview, you can translate it to a .WAV file, which can be sent via email to a transcriptionist.
  • If you are conducting the interview in person, make sure there is minimal background noise. If you can find a quiet room, that’s the best. Place the recorder between you on a table and don’t fuss with it once you’ve started the recording. If you have to be in a hotel lobby or other noisy place, adjust the microphone sensitivity setting to “Low” or “dictation.” Make sure you don’t “talk over” the other person as they answer your questions.
  • If you need to conduct the interview over the phone, you can buy an adapter that connects a land line phone with the recorder. I used a TRX-20 recording interface. You need to have a phone that has a receiver connected with a cord – it doesn’t work with a cordless phone. So I sent my husband to Radio Shack to get a cheap phone that worked well.
  • You may want to transcribe the interview yourself if you are a good typer and have patience. I don’t have the patience, so I had a professional transcriber, Marcy at A Better Type ( in San Diego transcribe them. They charge $20/hour and have more suggestions regarding making good recordings. They sell digital recorders too (Olympus).
  • Test everything out before you do your interviews.  You don’t want to think you are recording and find out you didn’t record the interview.


  1. Dorianne
    I don’t know about esteemed but your student colleague Wendy is most grateful for this level of detail and advice! Thank you so much.

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