Life, Phd

Starting my PhD interviews: transcription takes a long time, and Impostor Syndrome is real!

Last week I interviewed two people for my PhD research, and I will hopefully be interviewing many more people over the next year. The interviews are qualitative semi-structured interviews  (interviews focused on in-depth conversations with people, with some set questions asked to all interviewees but also allowing them to lead the conversation), which is the first time I’ve used this methodology in research.

I was very nervous before the first interview, worried I was going to feel too awkward. But the interviewees (who will of course remain fully anonymous, but a big thank you to them anyway) were both lovely, and responded to all of my questions with interesting responses. It’s useful to critique your own interviewing: I realised painfully quickly when reviewing the recording that my voice is two or three octaves higher than I thought, and that I say “brilliant” far too often. And I talk with my hands, so even when talking on the phone I’m waving them around the place.

And here’s a secret for you: TRANSCRIPTION IS ACTUALLY QUITE FUN, BUT VERY LONG. It takes about 4 times the length of the interview for me to transcribe it, and then lots of re-winding the recording to hear those few words that you just can’t catch. And yep, I’m weird and have enjoyed transcribing the interviews so far. Partly, because it means you  focus much more on what they’re saying which is really beneficial for my research, but also because it feels like proper, tangible work.

What do I mean by that? Well, Impostor Syndrome is something that I have read many blog posts about, and it refers to feeling like you’re a fraud in some way when doing a PhD, and that everyone else is doing lots of work, while you’re “faking” it. That’s not to say that I haven’t been working hard, but as the majority of legal research is done through literature review, it sometimes feels that nothing is being achieved.

So interviewing people and transcribing the interviews is a physical task that I can tick off and know I’ve done – so I feel I’ve chosen a research methodology that suits me, as pure doctrinal literature review (a review of various laws, journal articles and books) for 3 years might be far too intense for me!

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