In this paper, I propose redefining transcription as a significant process within qualitative research, and as more deserving of attention and of transparency in reporting. Although interviewing has become one of the most frequently used methods of qualitative data collection, when summarizing the methodology adopted in their studies, researchers are still not likely to describe either the transcription process itself or the decision-making process that led up to it. One of the problems with transcription is that it is frequently addressed separately from the broader philosophical, ideological or epistemological contexts of a study, and dealt with as a minor independent logistics issue, and its resolution reduced to its mechanics or its physical completion. In this article, I highlight the significance of decisions made about transcription as illustrated by an account of two contrasting experiences. I explore the choices made related to who undertakes the process and how it is completed as based on theoretical underpinnings. These decisions, as illustrated in the examples, reflect views on what is to be known and what is considered to be the data, and will, ultimately, determine the limitations or the possibilities for analysis and interpretation.


Transcription Significance, Transcription Quality, Transcription Decisions, Transcribing Challenges, Transcribing as Analysis, Qualitative Interview, Qualitative Data, Data Quality, Qualitative Methodology

Author Bio(s)

Lilian Cibils is Assistant Professor of Bilingual Education/TESOL in the School of Teacher Preparation, Administration and Leadership (TPAL) of the College of Education, at New Mexico State University. Her research focuses on qualitative inquiry in multilingual contexts, linguistically and culturally sustaining teacher education, and inclusive approaches to home-school relations. She teaches graduate courses, such as Qualitative Research, as well as undergraduate courses in the areas of TESOL and Bilingual Education within the teacher education program. Her book, Immigration, Motherhood and Parental Involvement, published in 2017 and based on the findings of a qualitative case study, offers an anti-deficit perspective on bicultural family-school connections. Correspondence regarding this article can be addressed directly to: lcibils@nmsu.edu.


I would like to acknowledge the participants, my conversation partners, who so generously shared their life experiences with me.

Publication Date


Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.





To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.