Using scribes in qualitative research as an alternative to transcription

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18 Citations (Scopus)


Transcribing qualitative data is resource-intensive. One less intensive alternative is scribing: the documenting of comprehensive notes, including verbatim quotes by an independent observer during an interview. However, the extent to which a comparable thematic analysis can be derived from scribed interview data relative to verbatim transcriptions of these same interviews has not been investigated. Thus, the purpose of this study is to test the number and content of themes derived from interview data, which had been scribed versus transcribed verbatim and to identify the time and cost differences (if any) between obtaining, processing, and analysing scribed data compared to transcribed data. Two modes of scribing were evaluated: in-person (i.e., from notes obtained during live interviews), and from video-recordings of these same interviews. There was high consistency in the number and content of themes (highest at subtheme level) derived from scribed versus transcribed data. Scribing produced significantly less data than transcribing and was economically superior. Thus, in the context of interview-based studies in which common ideas or meaning are sought through thematic analysis, scribing yields a similarly rich set of themes as transcribing, and hence, may offer a valid and feasible alternative when resources are limited.

Original languageEnglish
Article number12
Pages (from-to)586-605
Number of pages20
JournalQualitative Report
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2019


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