“I swear I pressed record…”

Last week I reached a milestone in my data generation part of my PhD:  I finished conducting all Stage Two interviews with each of my participants! (yeah) This was a hell of a journey and a learning curve, and not without it’s hiccups along the way.  I wrote the following about one such hiccup that occurred a few weeks ago as a reminder to myself (and a warning to others)…

You think it can never happen to you.  “Oh yeah, I’ve gone through the research training.  I definitely know better than to rely on one source for recording.”

OH really?!

I learnt the hard way, one very early morning, at around 5am. I had spent a fantastic hour talking with a participant over Skype, who was located several time zones away, and was checking the audio file when I noticed this:

“Wait…Skype says my conversation was for 1 hour, 45 seconds?!  This isn’t right.”

*drag cursor to the end of the recording*
*listens to the recording get cut off*

“(insert bad word here)”

*repeatedly checks file folder / Skype / application for missing recording*
*realises that ‘additional recording’ is in fact ‘no recording’…at all*
*shakes head in denial and resumes checking file folder / Skype / applications for missing recording*
*reality begins sink in*

“(insert more bad words here)”

*puts head into hands for several minutes*
*takes several deep breaths*
*pushes down wave of panic and opens interview schedule*
*scans questions and realises where the recording stopped*
*looks at other questions and realises that something can be done*
*feels some hope*
*begins to write down the participant’s responses as detailed as memory will allow, using the interview schedule as prompts*
*continues to do this until she realises the sun is now rising and should really go to bed*

When I awoke about an hour or so later I sat back at my desk to survey what else I could do to try to salvage the lost data.  In the end, memory is a limited thing and I’ve put this data set to one side which is still usable but decidedly different to the rest of the recordings.  More on that later!

Looking back I’m still not quite sure what had happened, whether it was me clicking one to many times or the software that I was using had stopped suddenly.  I emailed the developers for Call Recorder , the first software that I was using, to flag up the problem and they kindly looked into it.  I later got a reply mentioning that there may be issues when Time Machine backs up, but none the less, I felt that I was at least partly to blame.  I do definitely I remember making a promise to myself never to do another recorded interview without two recording devices on the go!  Nowadays for any Skype / telephone interviews I’m using  Call Recorder and Audio Hijack Pro in hopes that at least one of them will do the job should the other pack it in.

3 thoughts on ““I swear I pressed record…”

  1. I don’t know whether it makes you feel better, but you’re not alone in losing data. I generally use two recording devices, but on one occassion an interview participant unexpectedly said that she’d he happy to be interviewed on the spot. I did have my interview schedule and iPhone to record the conversation, so I thought I was good. Anyway, half way through the interview, the telephone rang, and although I ignored it, for one reason or another, the incoming call seems to have stopped the recording. It was only after the end of the interview that I realised that I had only half the conversation on tape. It sucks…


  2. Oh yes, it sounds so familiar. The only difference between your and my scenario was….you dealt with it in a calm and social acceptable manner, whereas I used more than just “bad words”. I transformed into an animal that yet needed to be discovered as no wild monster would come close to how I looked, felt and acted. Will try your approach next time. 😉


    1. Thanks for sharing this! I think if this happened when I was more awake or during regular hours my reaction would have been different! 🙂


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