Working with traumatic stories: from transcriber to witness

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


This paper reports on the experiences of a female transcriber involved in a narrative inquiry into the lives and identities of people who have been traumatized in childhood and subsequently misused drugs. It addresses the potential and actual impact of transcribing traumatic life stories and the need for researchers to consider ethical responsibilities 'to do no harm'. It also shows how the transcriber's witnessing of the participant's stories, when taken back to the participant, enabled the researcher to validate her interpretation and check the focus of her analysis, in line with the participant's expectations: it also helped the participant develop new stories of resourcefulness and strength. The paper uses taped conversations between the transcriber and the researcher, and between the researcher and the participant, to illustrate a rich unfolding process that enhanced understanding and created new meanings. It offers some ways forward to ensure that transcribers come to no harm through their work with traumatized subjects.
Translated title of the contributionWorking with traumatic stories: from transcriber to witness
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)85 - 97
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Social Research Methodology
Volume10 (2)
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2007

Bibliographical note

Publisher: Routledge


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