analysis, social organization, classroom talk

Saturday, January 26, 2008

water rises in Rocky

Posted by Picasa
This picture was taken on Saturday morning. There is a walkway in the left of the pic, and yesterday it was possible to walk along that.

This next pic was taken 24 hours after the first. As you can see, the water has now moved onto the walkway and beyond it.

Posted by Picasa

This last one was taken another twenty hours on (early monday morning).

Posted by Picasa

Here is the state-of-the river on Tuesday.
Posted by Picasa

Thursday, January 24, 2008

some words from Linguistic Anthropology

Posted by Picasa
I've just been reading a chapter from Allessandro Duranti's Linguistic Anthropology. Transcription: From Writing to Digitized Images begins with a description of how early anthropologists accomplished transcription. For example, they wrote down oral narratives as speakers' produced them slooowly.

There is a summary provided at the end of the chapter and it encapsulates a lot of the issues raised in articles I've been reading lately. So ...

"Here are some of the main points made in this chapter:
(i) transcription is a selective process, aimed at highlighting certain aspects of the interaction for specific research goals;

(ii) there is no perfect transcript in the sense of a transcript that can fully recapture the total experience of being in the original situation, but there are better transcripts, that is, transcripts that represent information in ways that are (more) consistent with our descriptive and theoretical goals;

(iii) there is not final transcription, only different, revised versions of a transcript for a particular purpose, for a particular audience;

(iv) transcripts are analytical products; that must be continuously updated and compared with the material out of which they were produced (one should never grow tired of going back to an audio tape or video tape and checking whether the existing transcript of the tape conforms to our present standards and theoretical goals);

(v) we should be as explicit as possible about the choices we make in representing information on a page (or on a screen);

(v1) transcription formats vary and must be evaluated vis-a-vis the goals they must fulfil;

(vii) we must be critically aware of the theoretical, political and ethical implications of our transcription process and the final products resulting from it;

(viii) as we gain access to tools that allow us to integrate visual and verbal information, we must compare the result of these new transcription formats with former ones and evaluate their features;

(ix) transcription changes over time because our goals change and our understanding changes (hopefully becomes "thicker," that is, with more layers of signification.

We must keep in mind that a transcript of a conversation is not the same thing as the conversation; just as an audio or video recording of an interaction is not the same as the interaction. But the systematic inscription of verbal, gestural, and spatio-temporal dimensions of interactions can open new windows on our understanding of how human beings use talk and other tools in their daily interactions." (Duranti, 1999, p. 161)

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


Boats on the Fitzroy at Rocky are now moored close to the river's banks. I guess this is in preparation for the water to come over the next few days.

More good news this week - Robyn Brandenburg and I have decided to produce a co-authored article on transcription. This will draw on my review of the literature (in progress) and Robyn's work with transcripts in her PhD work. Robyn is currently in the process of publishing a book about her PhD research and it will be launched at AERA in New York. Meanwhile, we're both looking forward to our collaboration on the journal article.

This morning I've been reading this:

Oliver, D. G., Serovich, J. M., & Mason, T. L. (2005). Constraints and opportunities with interview transcription: Towards reflection in qualitative research. Social Forces, 84, 1273-1289.

The article mounts an argument for "a period of reflection [during research] that allows researchers to contemplate transcription choices and assess how these choices affect both participants and the goals of research.". The authors draw on empiral data from their study of HIV-positive men and disclosure decisions.
Posted by Picasa

Thursday, January 17, 2008

two in the bush

This pic reminds me a little of a tapestry that my mother did some years ago. I tried to get closer to the birds but they wouldn't let me.

More transcription matters today. I've just read:
Lapadat, J, C., & Lindsay, A. C. (1999). Transcription in research and practice: From standardization of technique to interpretive positionings. Qualitative Inquiry, 5, 64-86.

This article is a "cross-disciplinary conceptual review of the place of transcription in qualitative inquiry" (p. 65). It's a good article, particularly because it presents a range of "evidence" that suggests the taken-for-grantedness of transcription, and because it concludes with consideration of several concerns about the place of transcription in qualitative inquiry.

"Researchers across disciplines for many years have found transcription to be an important component of the analysis process. We want to emphasise that it is not just the transcription product-those verbatim words written down-that is important; it is also the process that is valuable. Analysis takes place and understandings are derived through the process of constructing a transcript by listening and re-listening, viewing and re-viewing. We think that transcription facilitates the close attentioin and the interpretive thinking that is needed to make sense of data. It is our contention that transcription as a theory-laden component of qualitative analysis warrants closer examination." (p. 82)
Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

my view

This is the view from where I am sitting. The document propped up near my computer is a copy of my publications section from my CV. Everytime there is a change to it, I print out the latest version and prop it on the stand right in front of me. It's a constant reminder of my work in progress, my progress and my need for it.This morning I was able to make a change because I had my journal article accepted for Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood. I'm over the moon about that.
Posted by Picasa

Friday, January 11, 2008

"Transcription as theory"

This morning I have been re-reading a seminal article on transcription by Elinor Ochs. The article was orginally published in Elinor Ochs and Bambi B. Schiefflen (Eds.). Developmental pragmatics, (pp. 43 - 72). New York: Academic Press. The copy I have is a re-pulished copy:

Ochs, E. (1999). Transcription as theory. In A. Jaworski & N. Coupland (Eds.), The discourse reader, (pp. 167 - 182). London; New York: Routledge.

This is a very useful article, particularly because it addresses considerations related to transcript layout and use of symbols when transcribing verbal and nonverbal actions from audio- and video-recordings. For example, Ochs establishes the importance of nonverbal action (using child language research to illustrate) and then shows how recording nonverbal actions can be challenging (e.g. there are many of them and including too many can "crowd" the transcript and impact on its readability, utterances may occur concurrently with nonverbal actions although not necessary starting or ending at the same time, numerous nonverbal actions may occur within an utterance, and so on).

Ochs also addresses some of the "consequences" for overlooking transcription procedures or taking them for granted:

"researchers rarely produce a transcript that does reflect their research goals and the state of the field. Furthermore, developmental psycholinguistics are unable to read from one another's transcripts the underlying theoretical assumptions." (p. 169).

Ochs makes these points in relation to child language research in particular. She illustrates through consideration of the use of phonetic spelling (versus standard orthographic spelling)in young children's sound play.

"In sound play, the shape, rather than the content of utterances is foregrounded and the function of language is playful and phatic (in the case of sound-play dialogue) rather than information: where the researcher uses standard orthography, not all instances of sound play can be easily seen. This assumes importance when a case of sound play is reported in the literature, as in my own situation. It is difficult to assess whether its rare appearance in the literature reflects the nature of children's verbal behaviour or the nature of psycholinguistic transcription procedures." (p. 169)

The point Ochs makes it that transcription impacts on the generalizability of studies within child language research because transcripts "influence and constrain what generalizations emerge" (p. 168)

In recent feedback on a draft journal article of mine one reviewer made the point that my references were dated and suggested that i draw on more current work. While I took the point and addressed more current work in my revisions, I felt strongly that some early work just hasn't been replicated well enough to replace earlier research and scholarship. This article would be an example.

Monday, January 07, 2008

the mighty Fitzroy under seige

Recent rains have resulted in the growth of large masses of water hyacinths. While the result LOOKS interesting in this pic. the growth plays havoc with life on the river.

This week saw me beginning academic work for 2008. As always there is plenty to be done. Over the next few weeks i will juggle preparing teaching materials for Term 1 with working on the draft journal article on transcription (NOT done last year as I had planned). Today, I spent some time re-reading an excellent book chapter on transcription written by Carolyn Baker.

Baker, C. D. (1997).Transcription and representation in literacy research. In J. Flood, S. B. Heath & D. Lapp (Eds.), Handbook of research on teaching literacy through the communicative and visual arts (pp. 110 – 120). Broadway, NY: International Reading Association.

In the chapter Baker reviews transcription articles and draws out three distinctive points about transcripts:

"(1) that the practices of transcription are forms of reasoning and writing that reflect cultural membership, (2)that practices of transcription are literacy practices in themselves: how do we put words and actions on paper? how do we write and draw our transcript characters, and (3) most important, that transcription practices assemble characters in particular ways and assign social and moral order to the literacy scenes observed." (p. 110)

What I really liked about the chapter was the way it provided an EM account of the literature and transcription, evident in Baker's use of headings such as "The transcript as an account of the practical reasoning that produced it" (p. 119). In this concluding section she writes:

"Transcripts, then, are accounts of the theoretical and analytical work that went into producing them. Making transcripts is part of the work of making sense of what is observed in recorded sounds and images. Making sense of events seen and heard involves charaterizing them in some way, assigning some kind of order to them. The transcription process imposes structure and order on events in the "pre-textual" realm of everyday life. What structure, order, meaning, rationality or morality those events are made to have are products of the work of transcription. Transcription, in this sense, is a process of theorizing and demonstrating social order; the transcript is an account of that theory of social order." (p. 119)

Wish I'd thought and written that!
Posted by Picasa