A Transcription and Translation Protocol for Sensitive Cross-Cultural Team Research

Qual Health Res. 2017 Oct;27(12):1751-1764. doi: 10.1177/1049732317726761.


Assurance of transcript accuracy and quality in interview-based qualitative research is foundational for data accuracy and study validity. Based on our experience in a cross-cultural ethnographic study of women's pelvic organ prolapse, we provide practical guidance to set up step-by-step interview transcription and translation protocols for team-based research on sensitive topics. Beginning with team decisions about level of detail in transcription, completeness, and accuracy, we operationalize the process of securing vendors to deliver the required quality of transcription and translation. We also share rubrics for assessing transcript quality and the team protocol for managing transcripts (assuring consistency of format, insertion of metadata, anonymization, and file labeling conventions) and procuring an acceptable initial translation of Spanish-language interviews. Accurate, complete, and systematically constructed transcripts in both source and target languages respond to the call for more transparency and reproducibility of scientific methods.

Keywords: North America; anthropology of health; cross-cultural research; data management ethnography; postpartum care; protocol analysis; research design methodology.

MeSH terms

  • Anthropology, Cultural
  • Cross-Cultural Comparison
  • Cultural Competency*
  • Documentation
  • Female
  • Health Services Research / standards*
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Language
  • Pelvic Organ Prolapse / ethnology
  • Pelvic Organ Prolapse / psychology
  • Qualitative Research
  • Translating*