Several industries have a need for academic transcription for research purposes. Legal, medical and finance companies use such services all the time for analysis. Media publications frequently need to transcribe interviews, as do universities. While some companies have their own in-house transcriptionists, there are plenty of businesses that simply do not have the resources, time or staff to handle this workload, which requires precision and care. The following reasons explain how your company can benefit from hiring a transcription company.
Purpose of Recording
In the old days people used to just take notes when it came to documenting interviews. But the problem with relying on notes is that you may not get everything essential down on paper. It can also open the door to misinterpreting short hand later on. Taking notes was then replaced by analogue audio recorders that did not always capture sound clearly or professionally. Thanks to modern digital recording technology, however, it is possible to record conversations that sound clear and can be stored for years without degradation. Digital technology also allows you to index audio so that specific sections can be easily accessed.
Research Transcription Types
The two main types of academic transcription are interview transcription and focus group transcription. While interview transcription is usually limited to 1-3 interviewees, focus groups tend to comprise larger groups of individuals, sometimes without detailed information on who the speakers are. Either way, a professional organization needs good quality recording devices to make transcription worthwhile. You can either invest in equipment or save money by hiring experienced transcriptionists, who can provide adequate or better quality audio and video. Unless you will provide training for in-house transcriptionists, you will likely get more professional results by outsourcing.
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The reason it is essentially to use better than low grade consumer gear for academic transcription is so that the playback of the audio is intelligible. Cheap recording equipment does not always generate clean audio and can distort sounds, making speech difficult to decipher. In the long run it is simply more professional to use decent quality recording equipment, especially if you are making a presentation such as in court or for a company meeting.
There is a wide range of gear that can be considered for recording basic interviews and conferences. The Olympus DM-3 is considered a quality digital voice recorder for interview transcriptions. It can also work for focus groups if you add external microphones. If you are recording a seminar or conference that involves several speakers you may also want to consider capturing the event on video so that you do not lose track of the identities of speakers. Another advantage to video is that the transcriber can document facial expressions or gestures.
Cost of Transcription
If you hire a transcription service then costs will vary depending on several factors. In general, the longer and more complex a session is, the more it will cost. It helps to get a fixed cost per minute quote for recorded audio. Some transcription services give deals to educational and nonprofit organizations. Some companies end up spending extra money if they need more than one transcriptionist to cover a live event to make sure all the intended content is collected. Here are some of the key cost factors:
Experience and Expertise
When choosing a transcriptionist, make sure they have a credible and dependable reputation. The level of experience is very important if the transcription involves interpreting specialized terminology for an industry or subculture. You may even want to provide the transcriptionist with a glossary or list or keywords of specific jargon. If the research involves regional dialects then the transcriptionist should already be familiar with the local language and culture.
A professional transcription company can provide you with an ethical standards document that meets your own ethical standards. Ethical understanding is important to make sure that your research remains confidential. You should also be able to request a transcription format that works with qualitative analysis software programs such as NVivo or Leximancer. It's important that professional quality audio can be archived and transcribed quickly, especially if it is for a media event.