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Interview Recording and Transcribing - Human Research Ethics Procedure

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Section 1 - Introduction

(1) Respect for people is central to the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research. It 'involves recognising that each human being has value in himself or herself, and that this value must inform all interaction between people' (page 11). This approach to people is clearly important when audio or video recording an individual or a group of research participants.

(2) Specifically, 'Researchers should consider whether respect for the participants requires that the accuracy or completeness of each interview transcript should be verified by the relevant participant before analysis is complete' (3.1.15, page 28). In addition it requires researchers to ensure the privacy, confidentiality and safe storage of recordings.

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Section 2 - Procedure

Participant Right of Review

(3) Research participants should generally be given an opportunity to review, edit, or erase any audio or video recording to which they have contributed. If this is impractical, as with group recordings, individuals should be given an opportunity to review, edit, or erase their contribution on a written transcript of the recording. Participant(s) should be advised in the information statement if they will be offered reviewing or editing opportunities.

(4) If researchers are concerned that allowing participants to edit their contributions in recordings or transcripts of interview might have adverse implications for the data, they are required to clearly demonstrate in their ethics application that they will:

  1. ensure participants are fully aware of the process entailed in the interview, transcription and subsequent data analysis; and
  2. offer participants an opportunity to confirm, usually in writing, their consent to use of the recording following a recorded interview or prior to data analysis commencing.

Privacy and Confidentiality

(5) For audio and video recordings, except where it is essential to the research and where participants have been fully informed of the implications, participants should be advised not to identify themselves or third parties.

(6) A recording can never be completely anonymous. Researchers should only name participants in the research if the participant has given specific consent to be identified.

(7) All transcripts should identify interviewees by a code rather than by name. If the recording and/or transcript is lost, stolen or mislaid this will assist in protecting an interviewee's privacy. Similarly, transcripts returned to participants cannot be guaranteed to reach that person alone.

(8) Interviewees should be asked not to name third parties on recordings without their prior consent particularly if their comments might be considered insulting or defamatory.

Appropriate Handling of Interview Recordings

(9) If a digital interview recording, additional precautions are required to ensure security if stored on a computer or portable media. Such recordings will usually require password protection and appropriate secure storage.

(10) If recordings are to be archived, specific consent for this will be required on the consent form (see Research and Innovation - Research Advantage - Forms and Guidelines).

(11) If researchers believe that they may wish to re-use a recording subsequently, this must be clearly indicated in the participant information statement; consent must be obtained and appropriate and secure storage must be continued.


(12) Transcription should usually be undertaken by the researchers.

(13) If it is to be undertaken by other than the researchers (e.g., a transcription service or research assistant) participants must be informed as this potentially compromises data security and participants' privacy.