Orientation Observation In-depth interviews Document analysis and semiology Conversation and discourse analysis Secondary Data Surveys Experiments Ethics Research outcomes



Social Research Glossary

About Researching the Real World



© Lee Harvey 2012–2020

Page updated 29 April, 2020

Citation reference: Harvey, L., 2012–2020, Researching the Real World, available at
All rights belong to author.


A Guide to Methodology

6. Conversation and discourse analysis

6.1 Introduction to discourse analysis
6.2 Conversation analysis

6.2.1 Introduction
6.2.2 Focus and presumptions of conversation analysis
6.2.3 Elements of conversation analysis
6.2.4 Why undertake close analysis of conversational sequences?
6.2.5 Methods of conversation analysis Recording Transcription Analysing the sequential structure Participants' issues, concepts and categories

6.2.6 Examples of how conversation analysis has been used
6.2.7 Analysing power relations

6.3 Genre analysis
6.4 Pragmatics
6.5 Discursive psychology
6.6 Interactional sociolinguistics
6.7 Ethnography of communication/speaking
6.8 Narrative analysis
6.9 Critical discourse analysis
6.10 Summary and conclusion

6.2 Conversation analysis

6.2.5 Methods of conversation analysis Transcription

Conversation analysis uses a transcription system that not only records all the words accurately, including errors and hesitations, but also pauses and overlaps in conversations such as when two people are talking at once. The transcription convention has evolved over the years but

from its inception in the work of Harvey Sacks in the 1960s, this development has mainly been the work of Gail Jefferson, whose sensitivity and precision in the rendering of interactional details seems to be unmatched by anyone in the field. (Have, undated)

Transcriptions of recordings are a convenient form to represent the recorded material in written form. They have two advantages: first they force the researcher to attend to details of the interaction that would escape the ordinary listener. Second, transcripts provide the researcher with a quick access to a wide range of interactional episodes, which can be inspected for comparative purposes (Have, undated). However, they are not a substitute for the recording (Psathas & Anderson, 1990).

There are various conventions for transcribing recordings and some examples are provided in CASE STUDY an example of transcription conventions.

Nevile and Walker (2005) provide an example of the difference between standard transcription and conversation analysis transcription. The excerpt is from a conversation between a pilot and co-pilot. The example contains technical jargon but the key is how the conversation is transformed in the two renderings. (see CASE STUDY Standard and conversation analysis transcripts)


Next Analysing the sequential structure