Well, here we are in our third national lockdown. This time there is light at the end of the tunnel as the vaccination programme is rolling out at quite a steady pace. At least this can give us all hope, which is something that was desperately needed. It is hard to believe that we have been living under restrictions for close to a year.
I have written before about mental health in an earlier blog. I think this is an opportune time to revisit this topic.
A few years ago, I found myself in a difficult place after running my business from home for several years. I was so busy working and trying to make the business run successfully. I found that I ended up isolating myself from outside activities and regularly socialising. I didn't realise at the time that it would take such an impact on my mental health. I became unnecessarily lonely, as I did have a large support group I could have reached out to. I cut myself off because I was experiencing anxiety and did not feel up to seeing people. When you are not leaving the house, interacting with people and having new experiences, you can quickly lose your confidence. You can also find yourself in a malaise and no longer have the motivation to get out and about. It becomes a very vicious circle. It was a lesson I learned the hard way. I do fear it is something many people in the general population are possibly now experiencing. I was fortunate that I could address it and take action to turn things around, but under our current restrictions, this must feel impossible if this is something you are experiencing.
I have had my difficulties and small meltdowns over the past ten months. I have been able to bounce back fairly quickly each time thankfully because I had the tools to do so. One of these tools is being open about how I'm feeling. Just having a support network of several people you can trust to discuss your issues is invaluable. I went for a socially distanced seven-mile walk on the weekend with a friend who suffers from anxiety. Walking and talking comes so naturally. It is an easy and effective way to open up to someone. This particular friend and I are each other's support network when it comes to mental health issues. I have been feeling fine lately, but this friend was struggling. It was good to be able to provide some support. Just listening, that's enough. You don't have to give sage advice, people generally just want to be heard and not judged. If you find you are experiencing mental health issues, you don't have to suffer in silence. You will be surprised at how many people can relate to what you're feeling. I suggest being selective about who you turn to during these times, but do turn to someone. You can open by saying 'I'm struggling a bit today', many people will get where you're coming from.
The next tool for me is exercise. I am not a gym bunny, but I started using the gym as a tool several years ago, to manage my mental health. There are so many benefits, the positive endorphins, seeing people (even if you don't speak to them), a productive outlet for negative feelings. I, like many other people, have struggled when the gyms have been closed during lockdown. During the first lockdown, I became so paranoid about the virus that I stopped going out to take daily exercise. This time around, I am ensuring that I go for a walk at least every other day. My ultimate goal is to go every day, but sometimes it is just too miserable weather-wise. I am lucky to have several friends who live on their own that need human contact, and we go for socially distanced walks together from time to time. For the most part, I do the walking on my own or with my husband, although he is more of a runner. I enjoy taking photographs, so I take the opportunity to try and get a few snaps along the walk. Taking photos somehow gives it more purpose and joy. I'm not a runner or a cyclist but if that's your thing, then all the better! Of course, we can also exercise at home. I keep threatening to learn a dance routine on YouTube and at this stage into this third lockdown, I'm ready to explore that! Many of my friends are doing online yoga and finding that super beneficial. But try to get outside, because even if it is overcast, getting fresh air benefits both the mind and the body.
And the third tool is sleep. If you are not sleeping well, this is going to undermine everything going on in your life. Lack of sleep creates a negative outlook. It impacts on your eating habits, motivation to get that exercise, and your mood becomes erratic. I was suffering from insomnia for several years. Overcoming my insomnia problems was something I finally tackled and essentially solved right before the pandemic began. The most impactful solution for me was going to sleep without my phone in the bedroom. I'd heard about the blue light issues, but I finally decided to take it seriously about a year ago. At first, I made excuses to myself, 'I need the phone as I use it for an alarm'. Well, I still use it as an alarm but now place it in my home office. I can still hear it when it goes off, but I generally wake up before that anyway because I've had a restful night of sleep. When I'm winding down to go to sleep, I remove the phone from my bedroom and put it in the office, where it remains for the night. Sometimes if I have bouts of insomnia (I am unsure if there's anybody out there who hasn't during this pandemic!) I will allow myself to bring the phone back in to distract myself from ruminative thoughts. But generally speaking, it's not a great plan. Reading is probably a better idea. Whenever I suggest the phone solution to anybody who is suffering from insomnia, they always seem to baulk and make an excuse as to why they can't live without sleeping next to their 'appendage'. I get it, Smartphones can be super addictive. But this honestly was a game-changer for me.
The final tool is breathing. Anxiety can cause shortness of breath. Sometimes we are not even aware that it's occurring. If I had a magic wand, I would make shortness of breath disappear from my life forever. I have experienced this for over 35 years after my father died, and I didn't properly grieve. Way back then, mental health awareness was not what it is today, and consequently, I have suffered from this on and off throughout my life. It is a sign to myself all is not right. It generally manifests itself when I am in denial of something and simply not acknowledging a troublesome issue. I've noticed it's reared its head over the past few weeks, whilst I'm trying to remain positive, yet feeling quite concerned about this new variant of the virus, and the impact it's having on people's lives and the deaths that keep rising and rising. This is all scary stuff. I'm trying to filter it out to live a life with some normality, but then I find myself unable to catch my breath. The biggest problem I have is once I get into a shallow breathing cycle, it can hang around for weeks if I don't proactively deal with it and figure out what it is that I'm repressing. Practising mindfulness and deep breathing exercises help. I find the 3, 4, 5 breathing technique works best for me. Breath in for 3 seconds, hold the breath for 4 seconds, exhale for 5 seconds. Repeat. Do this until your breathing becomes less shallow. Sometimes I do this whilst walking, which I find extremely helpful. Please Google this if you are experiencing trouble in this arena because different people have different breathing exercises that work best for them.
Those are my top four tools. I also have been finding that I'm watching a lot more television than I have in years, it's a nice distraction. I'm hooked on watching old movies and reality shows like The Great British Sewing Bee and The Great Pottery Showdown. I'm actually getting value out of my Netflix subscription for the first time in years. I'm currently enjoying Cobra Kai and The Good Place. I do find it hard to sit in silence these days. I listen to a lot of talk radio, usually when I'm in the kitchen or working on a puzzle. There's something about the live interactive element to talk radio shows that I find helpful because it feels like you're less alone. And I've really taken to cooking lately. Cooking was always more of a means to an end for me, but for the past four months I've been enjoying cooking a decent evening meal and I find it relaxes me. I've explored about 30 new recipes, instead of just sticking to my usual 15 or so that I rotate. That's been a positive of this pandemic. Here's to hoping that the next time I communicate on the blog, we're out of lockdown three and that life is looking a little bit brighter for all of us!
Today I found myself going back in time and producing a full transcript of a police station interview. Transcribing police interviews is a market that I have not really sought out since starting my business six years ago, mainly because police interviews were still being carried out by audio cassette. It seems that times have moved forward and that some police forces are now recording their interviews digitally. Hooray for everybody! I have five years of experience transcribing police interviews. I am happy to provide a full transcript or ROTI transcript depending upon your requirements. It is also a great idea to outsource your professional standards interviews. My service is completely confidential, and I will be the only person to listen to the recordings. I have signed the Official Secrets Act, and with 11 years of experience working for the police, I understand police culture extremely well. Please take a look at my rates page; I think you will be pleasantly surprised. My police background is located on my Legal and Human Resources page. I'll look forward to hearing from you!
June is a month to celebrate Pride and the LGBTQ+ community and to remember that the good fight for equality still has to continue. Times have moved on, and things are so much better than they were over three decades ago when I first became an ally. My Uncle was born in the mid-'30s and was gay. In Canada, it was not until 1969 that legislation passed to make same-sex sexual activity decriminalised. But there was still a stigma. Sadly, my Uncle did not feel he could come out of the closet until the early '90s when his mother died. We were delighted when he told us the truth, and not even a little surprised, he'd been bringing his partner to family dinners and events since the early '70s! I was heartbroken because he was only able to live his authentic self openly for several years. He was then diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and died shortly after. I always felt there was a strong correlation between keeping his secret and becoming ill. I hope that nobody has to live an inauthentic life because of their sexual or identity preference; this is why I take my role as an ally for the LGBTQ+ community seriously. Happy Pride! A month to celebrate diversity.
Pictured is my new favourite mug purchased from my local Pride charity in Swindon.
Trusty Transcriptionists is celebrating six years in business! I looked back at my entry from the fifth anniversary, at the time, I was very uncertain if I would last another year. It's sort of like, um, if you thought there was uncertainty then, wait until you see what's down the turnpike in March 2020! Yikes! I'm happy to report last year turned out to be a good year with steady work and lots of new clients. For the past six months about a third of my time was taken up transcribing interviews for an award-winning documentary maker. Transcribing the countless documentary interviews was one of the most challenging but also exciting and fascinating projects that I've had the privilege to work on. I was also fortunate to work with many other clients, old and new, on an extensive range of projects throughout the year.
The sixth anniversary finds us in extraordinary times indeed. My work life at present is not too different from my everyday working life, in that I work from home. I have not had any radical adjustments to make to my lifestyle. As my work is all done remotely without the need for any social contact, I am in a decent position to keep working through these difficult times. However, my clients' work necessitates social contact for the most part (except for Skype or telephone interviews of course). Social distancing has meant that I have lost the bulk of my regular work, like so many other people across the country. I found myself with very little work in April, usually one of my busiest times of the year. There is a silver lining to the cloud, in that I have a large project arriving next week and another starting in May, these will keep me busy. These clients had already recorded their interviews prior to the lockdown. I feel fortunate about that. Being busy with work allows me to escape, feel productive and not overthink things that I have no control over.
I was certainly not without a million things I could do around the house, and I started by tackling some of these that have been on my 'to-do' list forever. But let's face it, they've been our lists forever because they are things that are either boring or difficult. We always use the excuse to ourselves that we don't have the time. But I think many of us are discovering; we actually don't have the inclination. One night several weeks ago, I found myself playing a newly acquired Scrabble app until one o'clock in the morning. I then continued to play for hours on end the following day. That was the moment I realised I had to bring some structure back to my day. I am an old hand at this, and I think my years of acquired self-discipline when it comes to a work/life balance will allow me to get through this with relative ease. But even with six years of experience of being self employed and working from home, I was reminded of how quickly one could slip into a malaise. There's a fine line between enjoying a bit of relaxation/distraction time and becoming consumed with something that becomes unproductive. If you suddenly find your hands have permanently moulded into the form of a claw due to clutching your phone for hours on end staring at little lettered tiles, you are not alone. Just step away from the phone!
If you have stumbled onto this entry during the height of the crisis, I hope that you are well. There is so much uncertainty about the future, but I think the only thing we can do at the moment is to take things one day at a time.
With my warmest wishes,
Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Welcome Winter Solstice, Happy Festivus for the rest of us! Happy Holidays! I have been very fortunate lately in that business has been extremely busy for the last quarter of the year. This is a year which has certainly had its ups and downs, and I am always very thankful when things are going smoothly. I have been mainly working six days a week for the past three months, so I am taking some time off for the holiday season. I will be closing on Christmas eve and reopening on January 6th. Please get in touch if you require any transcribing from Jan 13th onward. I wish you much happiness and health in 2020! A new decade! I feel quite excited and optimistic about this and I hope that you do too.
All of my best wishes,
*This year's featured decoration is my Native Canadian West Coast Christmas bauble.
When transcribing interviews, I highly recommend using decent headphones. These truly make all the difference in the quality of the transcript you can produce and the speed at which you can do it. I prefer the type that goes over the ear and have some noise-cancelling properties. The headphones pictured are the style I have been using for the past three years. While wearing these headphones, I am still able to hear the doorbell. I am also aware if somebody speaks to me from another room. Cheekily, I have been known to conveniently 'not hear' somebody talking to me when I am transcribing. Sometimes I prefer not to interrupt the flow, especially when I'm producing verbatim transcripts. Being able to concentrate on the task at hand is the same reason that 90% of the time, I do not have my mobile phone in my office with me. It is a distraction I do not need. I keep it in another room and allow myself to look at it several times a day. I find this vastly helps with productivity. I recommend it.
When I first started my transcription business, I used the headphones that came with the foot pedal and software I purchased. These were decent, but the sound quality of the headphones I currently use is vastly better. If I have difficulty hearing a recording, I can be confident it is due to the recording quality. The positioning of the speaking person in proximity to the recording device microphone dramatically impacts on recording quality. I often receive recordings with background noise, and these headphones certainly help me produce the best quality transcript possible in those situations. I do, however, prefer recordings without background noise if possible. Many years ago, when I worked for the police, I worked on a surveillance project for three months. These audio recordings had excessive white noise, and it took its toll on my ears. Extreme white noise recordings are something I now try to avoid. Loud background noise, such as those interviews that take place in public places, do not make pleasurable listening. It takes much longer to transcribe as you are perpetually rewinding the recording to pick everything up, even with super-duper headphones it is not a joy. The time factor is the reason professional transcription companies charge more for these types of interviews. Of course, I do accept projects with background noise. If I listen to the recording and the background sound is excessive, I will evaluate whether it is worth it for my client to have the interview transcribed. If I do not think I will produce a suitable transcript from it, I generally give it a miss.
Of course, a decent set of headphones comes at a price. The ones I use cost me £55. They are the second pair I have had to purchase in the past three years. The first ones had an annoyingly long cord that kept getting run over by my office chair. Wheeling over the headphone cable happened so many times that it was a miracle that they lasted as long as they did. One day, they finally had enough of my abuse, and the sound quality dropped dramatically. I immediately found myself ordering the same set of headphones once more. The sound quality was so brilliant that I could not contemplate ever going back to a lesser model. Happily, when they arrived, the cord was much shorter. I guess other transcriptionists had the same issues! It is now not possible for me to run over the cable, which is a massive bonus. With luck, they will last me for years.
I don't suggest that if you are transcribing one or two interviews that you go out and purchase expensive headphones. However, if you are transcribing many recorded interviews, it is certainly something to consider. I would also highly recommend getting a foot pedal. I don't know how anybody produces a timely transcript without one. It must take them such a long time and be extremely frustrating. At a minimum, you would expect a professional transcriptionist to be using a foot pedal to transcribe interviews. Again, if you are doing a one-off project, obviously this is not an investment you would make. Of course, the best bet is to have a professional transcribe your interviews for you. Not exactly a shocking conclusion, considering the author offers a transcription service! Please see my reasonable rates if this is a service you require.
I wish you all the best with your transcribing, whether you decide to go on your own or hire a professional. As a final comment, I am currently taking a proofreading and editing course. I have now completed 40% of the course workload. Proofreading and editing is a service I will be offering in the new year.
Best wishes and happy interviewing,
I was thankful when I turned the calendar this month to reveal May, aside from disliking the cat's hat in the April's picture from my 'Cats in Hats' calendar (an annual Christmas present from my cat Ledley) I felt a change in month represented a new beginning. I always find May to be a nice month in England, the days are much brighter and people seem much more optimistic as summer is around the corner. There are also two bank holiday weekends to look forward to which makes life seem a whole lot better.
I feel like I've come through quite a struggle in March and April. My mother-in-law passed away from an aggressive terminal cancer early March after only being diagnosed as terminal a few weeks previous. We are so lucky in England to have hospices that we have, the staff that work there are truly incredible people. But after an experience like this, you really just chug along and move from one day to the next in a bit of a fog, trying to find a little bit of joy in each day to erase some of the bleakness. I have great wisdom points in experiencing the death of somebody close, but have found it very difficult to watch somebody I love so much having to grieve the loss of his mother.
Perhaps that would have been enough to contend with for the past few months, but you know how it works, if one thing goes wrong...many go wrong. And business was very slow for March and April. I was beginning to worry that maybe I would have to move onto something else. This is the curse of the freelancer, this anxiety, and this train of thought is very common when things go quiet for many of us. We all know from past experience, things tend to come good again and we ought to just take advantage and get things done we've been putting off when for once, we have the time. But we generally find ourselves obsessing over how much money is or is not going to come in and we end up spending most of our time just freaking out!
I had to be proactive about things and so decided to spend a big whack of money on advertising. This can be a crap shoot, am I throwing good money after bad? But thankfully it did pay off. One client referred me to three others (Thank you! These were small projects but they gave me something to get up for every day) And then I generated four other clients which took away the worry. A book project I had signed for had been stalled for months, and that suddenly is back on track. It also looks like I will be working on another large book project for a new ghostwriter client which is quite exciting. And happily, many of my academic clients are coming out of the woodwork again this month. I have had seven enquiries in the first two days of the month, I truly don't even think I met this number for the whole of April! I have spoken with other freelancers and they all say it has been quiet for them too. I speculate, Year End, Uncertainty of Brexit, and Easter Holidays...
Aside from worrying about my future and what I was or wasn't doing with my life, I did manage to get a few things done that I never would have had the time for, this is a bonus for sure. I thought my website was looking a bit dated, so I did a total overhaul. Wow, that was a project and a half in the end! I think it ended up taking me ten hours in total, I kept making stupid mistakes. And Google wasn't happy with the way it displayed on some mobile phones, so I ended having to redesign from scratch. But I'm so happy with it now that it's finished. I added some new pages that I'd had on a 'To Do' post-it note for about a year, a page specifically dedicated to podcasts and a page to sign up to the Trusty Transcriptionists newsletter (be still your beating heart, huh?)
I also managed to get some writing done, like properly. I half finished a short story which combines Artificial Intelligence (something I've been obsessively reading about lately) and love (something I try to avoid reading about entirely!) I even entered a couple of poetry competitions, which I'd been meaning to do for ages but just never took the time to do so. And finally, I think I've figured out a direction I'd like my business to branch off into which ties in to the service I provide (or at least provides a service required by many of the clients I already have) The happy news, it is something that 'Will a Robot Take Over my Job' claims is only at a 6% risk. (Have you checked out this website? It is interesting if not very disconcerting!) So I'm looking forward to taking a course in the summer, getting skilled up, hopefully passing and then launching a new branch to the business in the autumn/winter time.
I'm feeling quite optimistic about things in general, which I think is the crux of this message. Sometimes life can seem quite daunting, scary, lonely and even hopeless but we must try to remember that a new day will eventually come. And sometimes it takes weeks or even months to feel like that 'new day' has dawned, but it eventually does. And it's important to talk to a few people you trust when you're going through the down times, or there are organisations that you can speak to. We all need to feel supported and to feel loved. We are social creatures, we really are not meant to be just existing alone or virtually. Although I am extremely lucky to have a really good network of proper close friends, and a husband who has unwaveringly supported me for close to 25 years now, I find that when things get rough, it's difficult to reach out. But these are the times when you have to bare your soul a little and seek a bit of emotional support. It's also about learning who can and cannot be present for you emotionally when you're going through a tough time. Some people are overloaded in their own lives and simply don't have the capacity to take anything else on. This is a very painful life lesson and a lot of time can be wasted wondering what you did wrong. There's that classic Seinfeld episode with George Constanza and the 'It's not you, it's me' routine. But do you know what? Sometimes it really isn't you.
I close with a photo from last week, of a peony flower in my garden. I planted these two years ago (I am very new to this whole gardening lark)and I am astounded each year when something actually blooms, and the beauty of these flowers truly does take my breath away. It really is the little things that bring the greatest joy.
Trusty Transcriptionists is celebrating 5 years in business! I feel huge gratitude to all of my clients that have accompanied me on this journey. When I started this business (admittedly on a bit of a whim) I really did not expect it to be this successful. Of course, success is defined by the person, for me success is making enough money to live on, having the freedom to travel from time to time, remaining busy and producing a product the client is happy with. Throughout my time running the business, several people were gently nudging me to expand and grow the business. I did so for a short time but found it was not very lucrative from a financial perspective. It is very time consuming and often draining once you start bringing other people into the equation and I wanted people to be paid fairly for their work. I remember when I first started out freelancing, I was being paid by a large well known British company to do their transcribing at 35p per audio minute! This is truly exploitative. This company charges a significantly higher rate per minute than I charge, so what they are paying their subcontractors is shameful. It also drove me to quickly move away from working for any third parties, and start my own business. I valued myself much more than that.
Over the past five years, for the most part, times have been good. I initially invested heavily in advertising when I started the business. After a couple of years, I found I rarely had to advertise (thankfully because it is expensive!) I was busy all of the time and never without work. Referrals and repeat business kept me ticking along. I felt very lucky but I knew that it was my hard work and initial marketing that had set things up for me. This is not an easy game, not knowing when your next paycheque is coming from. There is no guarantee that I am going to make any money at all from month to month. This can be stressful and I don't think it's for everybody. In reality, if I'd not had a large chunk of savings, I could have easily been put out of business many times. Often the large companies are the slowest to pay and sometimes the amounts owed are significant. I have been so fortunate, in all of my five years I have only had one person who refused to engage with me on payment. She just ghosted me when I tried to communicate about the overdue invoices. This went on for months and I eventually sent the debt to a collection agency who recouped the loss for me immediately. This sort of confrontation is really not my style and I lost a lot of sleep over this issue. This was of course in my first year of business when I was very green to the whole thing. But I felt justified and completely entitled to claim my money and I've never regretted doing that. One other person who was studying law asked me to do some copy typing for him. Again, I was quite new to the business and agreed to do it (I hate copy typing, it is not a service I offer) I charged him a very minimal amount for the document, it was not even worth my time. He never paid me. I chased a couple of times but just let it go in the end as it was such a small sum it simply was not worth my time or energy (I'm sure he's made a wonderful solicitor ;-) But overall, I've been very lucky on that front.
Typing for a living is certainly not what I envisaged as my life plan, but I am very happy running my own business and with the lifestyle I've managed to eke out during the process. My only regret is my mother had passed away several years before I started the business. I would have loved for her to have seen what I've accomplished, all of it is really thanks to her. My mother was a very proficient executive secretary/administrator all of her life. She mainly worked for different departments of the government and for law firms (the later, she hated). I recall the home office in my house growing up, it had two desks in it, one for my father (who worked in politics) and one for my mother who acted as secretary for my father evenings and weekends. In my mind, I can still hear the voice of my father dictating letters to my mother, and that clacking sound of the keys on the typewriter as my mother typed away, letter after letter, usually with carbon paper in-between to make those much-coveted copies.
I recall vividly the summer of 1983, when I was 13 years old, my mother insisted that I do typing lessons at home several times a week. In the summer holidays? You've got to be kidding me. No, no she was not. She had bought me a book which contained introductory lessons. I had to work my way through one lesson a week. She promised me that typing was a skill that I could always fall back on if need be. My mother was fiercely independent and worked full-time for all of her life. These were good values to instil into me of course. And she was wise because life throws one so many curve-balls, little did she know that she would become a widow at the age of 42, and be solely responsible for me, her 14-year-old daughter and only child. That certainly was not the life plan. And so on those beautiful July and August days, Ottawa summers were fabulously hot and sunny, there I sat in the home office typing away (it was still typewriters in those days folks, I am that old!) I started by learning the home row, FFF space, JJJ space, F space J space, FJF space. You get the picture, anybody who has had touch typing lessons knows the score.
Now, don't feel too sorry for me, these lessons perhaps took up three hours a week of my holiday time, the rest of the time I was with friends and swimming in our back garden and having endless sleepover parties. These were good times. The sad part of this story is several years later when I was 16 years old and in high school, I took typing as one of my elective classes (at mother's insistence naturally) You would think that I would have passed with flying colours, after all, I had a head start on everybody else, I actually knew the keyboard by touch. But nope, I failed typing miserably, a big fat F (and I'm not talking FFF space) This of course was mainly because I was in the billiards hall playing pool, eating fries, flirting with boys and smoking cigarettes instead of showing up to typing class. Without practice and diligence in touch typing, you will fail, that's guaranteed. The end result is only what I deserved, I had to go to summer school to retake typing and I spent yet another fine summer in front of a typewriter!
With luck, next year I will be celebrating 6 years in business. It has come clear to me that I am going to have to diversify my services a little bit over the next few years if I want to stay in business. My intention is to start offering some virtual services in addition to transcription service over the next six months or so. It has always perplexed me greatly how many people do not know how to touch type in this country (like why in the world are you not offering this as a class in all schools? Our whole world is based around a computer keyboard now!) But technology, of course, is eventually going to bypass the need for any of this, as artificial intelligence begins to develop further and people can just command with their voices. And these are exciting times ahead, admittedly I'm a little worried but I am willing to embrace it. However, voice recognition is not up to standard yet when it comes to more than one voice, let me assure you (I tested it out several times to put my mind at ease, the results produced by software were dire!) But not before long the machines will be taking over... yes time stops for no one, not even for a transcriptionist who spent several of her hot and sunny summer holidays typing away under mother's orders.
Photograph- my mother and father 1972- Did they have a premonition to toast Trusty Transcriptionists celebrating 5 years in business?
When GDPR came in, I read what it entailed to ensure my business practices complied. I have never sent my data outside of the UK, my business only deals with UK clients, so this was one aspect I did not research or worry about. However, a client of mine has asked me to inform other students of the potential issues with sending data outside of the EU. She was working on her dissertation and this involved approximately 20 different interviews. I transcribed a large proportion of these interviews. The remaining interviews were done in her language with respondents also speaking that language. I was not able to transcribe these interviews for her (I'm good but I'm not that good! ;-)So she sent the interviews to a country in Asia, as she could not find anybody to transcribe these interviews for her in England in her native language. Unfortunately she then got in trouble with the ethics committee of her university as she did not anonymise the data prior to sending them outside of the EU.
Under GDPR data cannot be sent outside of the EU unless it is totally anonymous. If you must send your data outside of the EU there are steps you must take or you are breaching GDPR. GDPR applies to anybody handling data, individuals and companies. It is your responsibility to ensure that breaches do not take place. If you must send data outside of the EU it is my understanding that the following precautions must be taken- anonymise the data. So if the sound file you are sending is the name of the person interviewed, change that file name to Interview X, Interview 1, etcetera, never have the file name match with the name of any person actually interviewed. If the interview contains information within it that can identify that person (their name, where they work, where they live etcetera) edit this out of the recording prior to sending it. If the person is in the public eye and could therefore be identified by their voice or whatever they are talking about in interview, you MUST get the respondent to agree to allow you to send their data outside of the EU (I would get this in writing) This applies only to data you wish to send outside of the EU, and sometimes you may not have a choice but to send your data outside of the EU as with the case I cited, but if there is not a specific reason to send your data outside of the EU then it is more sensible is to keep your data within the EU. It really is a no-brainer and will save you a lot of stress.
Other sensible precautions to take- how are you sending your files? Is it through a free file sharer? You get what you pay for, be careful with your data. Ensure that the data you are sending is encrypted. I pay for a service which encrypts your sound data and automatically deletes it after 10 ten days. Your university may also have ways to safely send data. Emailing sound files (especially from free email accounts) is not wise nor is it recommended.
Do not send your data to just some random person that does not even have a website just to save a bit of money. The data you have worked so hard to get is important and is confidential. It is simply unwise to send your data to somebody that you do not know that does not have an internet presence.
I am not an expert on GDPR and sending data outside of Europe. I have gleaned the following by Googling 'sending data outside of the EU' Please Google this and do your own research, I provide the above as a guide only at the request of a previous client. This information obviously applies not only to students but to anybody that deals with recorded data. If any readers have updates on any of the information contained above or there are any inaccuracies please email me and I will update this blog entry.
Best wishes and happy researching!
As the sun sets on 2018 we look forward to 2019 and whatever new adventures may be on the horizon. It gives us a chance to change some things in our lives or have some new challenges, to grow as people and to learn new lessons. 2018 comes to a close as being a decent year with some painful lessons learned along the way. The year was coming to a very joyous ending during the festive period and then bang a few days after Christmas we received some very bad news, a close family member has cancer. We as a family are trying to remain positive because really it seems the only logical thing to do but I am sure 2019 has some difficult times ahead. Difficult times, however, make us appreciate the good times and this is a lesson I learned many years ago. I am always thankful when things are ticking along smoothly as I am very aware from life experience everything can change so quickly. But that is life, there is no immunity for any of us, good things and bad things are going to occur and we just have to be appreciative of the good times and resilient during the bad times, and eventually it all evens out (I like to hope so anyway!) I hope 2019 is a wonderful year for you. I will close with one of my favourite Irish proverbs 'May the best day of your past be the worst day of your future'.
With my Best Wishes,
Kim Whyte- Trusty Transcriptionists