What is transcription?
Even though the transcription process may appear easy, transcription is a specialised skill. It is not something everyone can do as a profession.
Transcription is the act of listening to an audio (or video) file and typing what is said into a document. This sounds easy enough, until you get into the nitty-gritty of transcription.
Transcription is done for a specific reason, whether it be for minutes of a meeting, analysis of research interviews, or a record of a disciplinary hearing, to name but a few. A transcript is a written record of an audio file so that the audio file doesn’t need to be listened to. By and large, the one who needs the transcript will often just read the transcript without listening to the audio. In some cases, with a co-coder for example, the person reading the transcript will never have heard the audio. For this reason, what is said in the audio needs to be accurately reflected in the transcript.
What is needed for transcription?
As strange as it sounds, good knowledge of Word is needed. Formatting a document before starting the transcription process is useful for when you want to extract information. If the original document is all over the place in terms of formatting, your extractions will need extra work to fit into your document.
Secondly, an excellent command of the English language is vital. Incorrect use of punctuation or homophones can change the meaning of a sentence, which then leads to skewed information. For a detailed explanation on the importance of punctuation, please see our article: Punctuation.
Good hardware and software helps the turnaround time and accuracy of transcription. An up-to-date transcription program coupled with good headphones can often produce a better transcript.
And, of course, you need a good transcriber who can understand content and context. This person needs to be able to understand what he/she is transcribing. People don’t speak punctuation and it’s often difficult to pick up where one sentence ends and another starts. Incorrect punctuation and homophones are almost a given when there is no understanding of what is being said.
What transcription services are offered?
Our transcription services include, but are not limited to:
- Focus groups
- Telephone recordings
- Video recordings
- Disciplinary hearings
- Training sessions
- Minutes of meetings
What are the options?
Many companies refer to “verbatim” transcription. As it happens, there are two categories: full verbatim and intelligent verbatim.
We don’t just tell you we do verbatim transcription. We give you a lot of info so that you can make an informed decision.
Using full verbatim
Full verbatim means we type exactly what we hear, to its full extent. This includes hesitations (er, um, uh, and so forth), repetition of words, fillers (you know, okay, like, and so forth), stutters and stammers, and interruptions. As a rule, we use non-standard English (ain’t, gonna, ‘cause, and so forth) where spoken.
For example, a sentenced typed using full verbatim: “Like, I…I…I didn’t know, um, that he was…was gonna, you know, er, be there”.
Using intelligent verbatim
Intelligent verbatim means we still type what we hear but it’s more refined. We remove hesitations (er, um, uh, and so forth), repetition of words unless used for emphasis, fillers (you know, okay, like, and so forth) when these words add no value to the context, stutters and stammers, and interruptions. We use non-standard English (ain’t, gonna, ‘cause, and so forth) where spoken. But we don’t omit any apt information or change the meaning of anything said.
Full verbatim sentence: “Like, I…I…I didn’t know, um, that he was…was gonna, you know, be there”.
Intelligent verbatim sentence: “I didn’t know that he was gonna be there”.
Intelligent verbatim allows for much easier reading and is a popular choice in most cases.
We believe in a personal, flexible service. Your needs may differ from another client. For this reason, you have the option to use a mix of full verbatim and intelligent verbatim. You can choose the parts you want and omit those you don’t.
We can do basic editing for transcription, if you want. Basic editing will fix blatant errors (we change “a apple” to “an apple or “we talking about” to “we’re talking about”, for example). We can also use standard English rather than non-standard English (“going to” instead of “gonna”, for instance). But we won’t change sentence structure or meaning. For full editing after transcription, see our proofreading and editing services.
We offer quality transcription as opposed to quantity transcription. Quality does take time. For this reason, we offer a turnaround time of 1 full working day per 1 hour of audio, for intelligent verbatim one-on-one interviews. Full verbatim and group recordings require a longer turnaround time. Having said that, if you have an earlier deadline, please contact us and we can discuss your needs. Our turnaround time does also depend on availability at the time.
For most long projects, we complete projects earlier than expected. However, we can’t always guarantee this.
We only accept video and audio recordings in digital format. We don’t have the facility to convert video or audio tapes to digital format. However, we have yet to come across a digital format we have been unable to convert and work with.