Interviewing subject matter experts is a valid source of medical evidence for all of us.
Health experts add credibility for health claims, and interviews provide a platform for experts to share their knowledge.
Not everything sourced from an interview needs to be included verbatim in an article. Still, it’s important to make sure you have accurately quoted and understood a medical expert.
Taking handwritten notes is not only onerous, but it can also disrupt the flow of conversation by taking up crucial time when you may only have a few minutes to interview.
These days, there are plenty of apps that can be installed on your mobile device, such as a smartphone or iPad, to record audio or video interviews.
The technology is changing the way writers are taking notes, namely by capturing key points to incorporate in your writing.
Using these apps helps to ensure you’re only quoting accurate information that’s relevant and adds meaning to your writing.
Key points to consider when recording an interview
There are local legislative, ethical and privacy requirements to obtain consent before recording conversations.
It is always important to ask permission from your expert prior to recording the conversation.
But, what do you do if an expert is reluctant to proceed?
Usually, this occurs if they are unclear why they are being recorded. I have only had one instance where an expert hesitated to consent.
With further probing, she didn’t realise it was solely to ensure accuracy and the recording would be discarded after the article was written.
If you take the time to find out possible reasons for concern, it can help to continue with recording the interview.
I find it is useful to still take my own notes while recording the interview.
Typed or handwritten notes are an important backup to your recording and also allow you to note useful quotes during the interview.
So, what recording apps are available?
1. Pear Note
Pear Note records video and audio, while allowing you to type out notes at the same time.
The audio, video and text is then linked together on a timeline so you can quickly find relevant points in the interview.
For example, if you click on a sentence within the conversation, you can also hear the audio that was spoken while reading your own notes.
This can be helpful if the audio or your notes are unclear or you haven’t been able to understand the context.
Cost: US$39.99 has a free 30-day trial. (Pear Note is only available with iOS)
TapeACall records phone calls on both iPhone and Android devices.
The app has a simple user interface and works during a normal phone call.
Think of it like a three-way conversation where you have to merge the calls to record the conversation.
When you’re on a call, simply open the app and press record.
Once you have finished the interview, the recording of the call is available in the app once the call ends. The file can be uploaded and accessed from Dropbox, Google drive etc.
Cost: Annual subscription of US$7.99 per year available for both Android and iOS.
3. Audio Memos
I have used Audio Memos when recording conversations with experts in the past.
It is a less-expensive app to try before choosing an app to invest in long-term. There is a Pro paid upgrade available with additional features, such as exporting the audio file to email.
The interface is user-friendly and offers high-quality recordings. I have been able to record conversations from the back of the room at conferences.
Cost: $0.99 with paid Pro version $US9.99 available for both Android and iOS
Evernote is a well-known note taking app.
However what may not be known is it also offers the ability to record parts of conversations by clicking or tapping the microphone button on the formatting bar in a new note.
It can be a useful app for short recordings for snippets of conversations.
You are limited by a recording length of up to 25MB per note unless you have the Plus or Premium app.
Cost: Free available for both Android and iOS
5. Ecamm call recorder
Ecamm is an audio recorder that can record video conversations made from Skype calls.
Although it is only compatible with iOS devices, it is a great app to consider if you need to edit conversations for podcasts or video.
Ecamm also has a compatible call recorder that can be used for FaceTime conversations. You can purchase both for US$44.90.
Cost: US$29.95 with a free 7-day trial.
Cogi is an app designed to only capture cogent ideas from a conversation.
The app allows you to record highlights of a conversation so that when you stop to take typed or handwritten notes, you do not miss any key points.
You can save as many highlights as you like.
Although it may not be ideal for recording full interviews, Cogi is a useful app for recording lectures, conference presentations and other speeches with less active questioning.
Cost: Free and available for both Android and iOS.
We would love to hear what you use to record interviews with experts – feel free to share your go-to recording apps in the comments below.