Identify The Criteria For Success
What is it that youre hoping to get out of this transcription? What is the transcription style? Is this supposed to be a coherent transcription that captures the interview word-for-word ? Or are you looking for a more condensed version of the original oral speech ? Will you need to come back to this text time and time again with great detail? Or will it simply be a reference piece?
Knowing exactly how the transcription needs to be used in the future will allow you to know how to approach it effectively now.
Choose A Transcription Style
There are two basic styles of audio interview transcription:
Verbatim transcription means that you write exactly what you hear. Every filler, interjection, stutter, and so forth is transcribed. For example, the speaker might say, I, um, went to the store and, like, bought some m-m-milk, followed by a laugh.
You would transcribe the sentence exactly as said and include the laugh in brackets at the end. Note that verbatim transcription is typically the most difficult, as it requires strong focus and extraordinary attention to detail.
Also known as a smooth transcription or an intelligent transcription, a non-verbatim transcription removes fillers, vocal tics, and the like. Using the above example, you would type I went to the store and bought some milk. You can choose the level of editing you want.
For example, maybe you find emotional expressions like laughing or crying relevant, so you decide to include them, but you cut out verbal tics. Whatever transcription rules you decide to follow, make sure you apply them consistently throughout the entire document.
Identify What You Want Out Of Your Transcript And Think About What Might Affect The Process
What is the purpose of the transcription? Do you need a completely accurate, word for word rendering of the interview in text, or do you simply need to condense it down to a series of bullet points? Is it simply a resource thats needed for quick reference or is it something that youll need to reference repeatedly and in exact detail? A lawyer preparing a case based on a witness testimony will have very different needs to a market research executive referring back to consumer data in a presentation.
Ask yourself if youll need to refer back to the audio later or if youll be solely reliant on the document. Will you be the only person referring to it or does it need to be accessible for several people with different needs and skills? Think about how important verbatim accuracy is. Do you already know the main talking points of the interview or will you need quick access to them in the document?
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Interview In A Journal
For an interview published in an academic journal, you need to include the journal name, volume and number, the date or year, and the page range. If you accessed the interview on an online database, include the name of the database and the DOI or stable URL.
Read more about MLA journal citations.
Preparation Is Key For Interview Transcripts
Just like when tackling most things in life, being well-prepared is the most advantageous element to securing success when transcribing. As such, the better prepared you are, the easier the transcription creation becomes. Here, we have compiled a small list of things to look out for when getting yourself prepared:
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Identify The Level Of Detail Needed In The Transcript
Whats the difference between verbatim transcription and simply just jotting down descriptive notes? Well, were about to tell you. However, first, you need to know exactly what is needed from the transcription, as this will allow you to better decide the level of detail needed when transcribing. When it comes to deciding the level of detail, there are a few options that you can pick from:
- Detailed Notes = Whilst this approach does not lead to a word-for-word transcription of the audio recording, it does allow the development of a detailed array of notes that offers both quick and easy access to the audio file.
- Full-Verbatim = This is the rawest form of transcription. Verbatim transcription captures all words present within the audio recording being transcribed. With Full-Verbatim, transcribers also take note of any pauses, false starts, and other verbal tics .
- Intelligent Verbatim Transcription = Intelligent Verbatim Transcription is known by many names such as word-for-word true verbatim or simply just verbatim. This is a cleaner version of the audio recording, as it details everything that is said but removes any of the verbal extras , essentially making it easier to read.
Just remember that verbatim transcription, whilst being the most detailed often proves to be the most challenging as transcribers need to dedicate more time to it as well as possessing a strong sense of focus and extraordinary attention to detail.
Revisit The Transcript And Edit
Now you have a readable transcription that you can work from. Its simply a matter of polishing it up and getting it ready for general consumption. Although your rough draft will be readable, maybe even useable, there will inevitably be issues like typos which youll need to correct before the transcript is ready.
Its advisable to listen back to the interview at this point. Read through the document as you listen and address any problems or inconsistencies as you go along. You may well find that you misheard certain words or allowed the odd homophone to sneak in, like hear and their.
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Ways To Transcribe And Factors To Decide Which Method To Choose
There are several methods you can use to transcribe an interview. The one you choose depends on factors such as the clarity of the audio and the specificity of the subject matter, as well as your budget, available time frame, and typing speed.
If you find yourself short on time, automated software may be your best choice, as it takes only minutes to transcribe an hour of audio. Some software, such as Otter, can recognize specific terminologies with the custom vocabulary feature. There, the user can upload a list of the terminologies, and Otter will recognize them in the future.
If you want to add a human touch to your transcription but dont have the time to transcribe the audio yourself, consider hiring a freelancer or going with a transcription agency service. If you find yourself with a large amount of audio that you want transcribed on a consistent basis, an automated tool is the logical choice, and this works if you have budget constraints as well: Otter.ai offers a default-free service, and the paid Premium service is still between 92% to 99% less expensive than competitors who charge anywhere between 2 and 33 cents per minute. The accuracy is similar to other services, and Otter can be better in some scenarios.
You may want to make a list of all the factors that youll need to consider before deciding how you want to transcribe: Budget, time, audio accuracy, audio specificity, and if you will need audio transcribed on a consistent basis.
What Level Of Detail Will You Need
As we discussed previously, the purpose of the transcription will dictate the required level of detail. There are several options available to you including:
Full-Verbatim The interview in its rawest form with every word detailed, including umms, ahs, pauses, false starts and other verbal tics.
Intelligent Verbatim Also known as verbatim, clean verbatim or word-for-word, this is a slightly more polished version of the full-verbatim script with all the extraneous extras removed, making it easy to read.
Detailed Notes The interview is reduced to a selection of detailed notes which give you quick and easy access to the information you need without having to parse large slabs of text.
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Example Of An Interview Transcript
There may be different formats for interview transcripts depending on the purpose of the interview. Here is a common example of an interview transcript:
Date: Wednesday, July 23
Meeting place: Room N102Attendees: MS = Michael Stowfield , LB = Lincoln Burnnos
MS: Welcome back, Lincoln. This is the third part of our interview, and I would like to get you through these as efficiently as possible as I know you have another interview later in the day.
LB: Thank you. I would greatly appreciate that.
MS: It states on your resume that you use to work for JKL Company, in the sales department. What did you do there?
LB: Yes. I worked as a Sales Manager there for two years. I increased sales from $500-000 to $1 million over the course of those two years.
MS: So you increased sales there by $500,000 in only two years?
LB: Yes, and Im very proud of that.
MS: Yes, thats very impressive Lincoln. Sorry, one sec. Susan is bringing us some coffee.
MS: No, no, thats great. Thanks, Susan. Good.
MS: I see you started your own sales company too. Was that intentional, or did it just sort of happen?
LB: Really, sort of both. I got into sales to help out a friend of mine and before I knew it I was running my own company. At first, I didnt really know how anything worked, but I was quickly able to adapt while also building up sales.
Steve: That does sound extremely challenging.
Improve Your Language And Accent Comprehension
If your interview participants are from around the world with different accents, and youre having trouble understanding any of them, itd be a good idea to do a quick search on YouTube.
There are lots of accent and dialect coaches who will make it very easy for you to understand difficult accents or fast speakers.
One such example is:
If youre looking at interview transcription as a career, and youre not a native English speaker, do not be discouraged.
Simply by watching movies and series from different parts of the world with subtitles, like for ex. on Netflix, can help you to get used to different accents in a short period of time.
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Now Youre Ready To Start Transcribing
We hope this guide helped you start on the path to doing your own transcription! Although the process can be tedious and time-consuming, it is possible for you to create an interview transcript.
Remember, when transcribing, try not to do it all at once. Give yourself regular breaks or it will take longer as youll be struggling to concentrate. Dont feel disheartened if you think its taking longer than you anticipated its all about patience.
However, many people do underestimate the giant task of transcription so if you feel that the transcription process is too tricky and takes too long, there are alternatives. You can hire professional transcription services to create your transcripts accurately and quickly. Many even have turnaround times of 24 hours! Leaving it to the professionals will help you save time and energy, and you can feel secure in the knowledge that youll get a high-quality and accurate transcript.
To find out more about the transcription services you can use to save yourself the hassle of transcribing hours of audio yourself, read our Ultimate Guide to Transcription Services which will tell you everything you need to know.
Easy Steps To Transcribe An Interview
It is important to note, that transcription software requires either the download of the software onto the computer or in many instances with the increased usage of smartphones or tablets, the installation of the application onto the device. The following steps that are relatively uniform will be discussed:
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Listen To The Full Recording
Some recordings can be complex. It is important for you to analyze a recording before you choose the method of transcription. Listen to the recording from beginning to end before you choose to use an audio-to-text converter, outsource it to an agency or transcribe it yourself. Check for items like:
- The number of speakers
- The length of the recording
- Technical terminology
- Whether you will transcribe one part of the interaction or the entire conversation
Sharing The Transcript And Recording
You can share the transcript with someone in two ways:
Select the Add all to document button to add the entire transcript to your document, then share the Word document as usual. The transcript will appear as regular text in the document and there will be a hyperlink to the audio file in the document.
Share the Word document as usual. The recipient can open the Transcribe pane to interact with the transcript. To protect your privacy, playback of the audio file is by default not available in the Transcribe pane for anyone that you share the Word document with.
You can also share the transcript and enable playback of the audio file in the Transcribe pane:
On your version of the Word document, click the filename at the top of the Transcribe pane to go to where the audio file is saved in OneDrive.
The Transcribed Files folder in OneDrive will open.
Find your recording, then select Actions > and add the email address of the person you want to share the recording with.
Also share the Word document as usual.
The person that you shared both the Word document and audio file with will be able to open the Word document, open the Transcribe pane, and interact with both the transcript and audio file.
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Final Thoughts On How To Transcribe An Interview
Students find it a lot easier to refer to a transcript instead of having to replay and listen to the audio file.
If there is no interview transcript, you will have to replay the file of the audio to text converting countless times. Why? Just to get the relevant info that you need to quote!
All in all, an interview transcript makes the task of analyzing your data much simpler, helping you to draw the right logical conclusions. Plus, it is much easier to keep a transcript if you need to retrieve it at a later stage again.
Example Transcript In Clean Verbatim Style
And heres the same conversation from above, transcribed in clean verbatim:
We made the following changes to the second transcript:
- We edited out stutters, partial words, and short incomplete sentences.
- We removed meaningless instances of words like so at the start of sentences, and like when used as filler speech.
- We chose to leave in the laughter, as it helps capture the overall tone of the interview and the banter occurring between the speakers. We also left in nonsense exclamations like Uh phew, because it helps set the context for what follows. However, we removed other non-speech sounds like coughing and throat clearing that do not contribute anything useful to the content.
- In this particular example, we opted to remove repetitive instances of the word actually spoken by Brad, the interviewee. Normally we leave longer words in, but in this case we felt it was a speaker idiosyncrasy that distracted from the content of the interview.
Clean verbatim style is not an exact science, and sometimes there may be overlap between non-verbatim and verbatim styles in a transcript. All in all, the changes we made here make for a cleaner, less distracting, and more valuable interview without detracting anything meaningful from the original.
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Top Hacks For How To Transcribe An Interview
Many interviews work well using just audio or video, but including a transcript or caption with the audio or video is becoming increasingly useful. People often prefer to read what was said, and having a transcript also makes it much easier to follow the audio or the video and go back to any point of interest. Transcripts or captions of a video are also very important for search engine optimization and help spread awareness of the audio or video for marketing purposes.
The trouble with transcribing an interview is that it can be challenging as it takes a lot of time. Be aware, if your interview is around 1 hour long, then it may take as much as 6 hours to transcribe and write up. If you choose to transcribe the interview yourself then the following tips should help ensure your interview is transcribed properly.
Make Sure You Have The Right Tools
Once you understand what you want out of your transcript, you need to make sure that you have the right tools for the job.
The basic requirements are a computer with a word processor and audio player. Headphones are far preferable to speakers. You will quickly find that the isolation of headphones improves your ability to pick up details, and headphones will help cancel out the clatter of your typing. Lastly, you will want to use transcription software. This might be considered the first optional requirement. However, even free transcription software platforms are a significant help.
You computer: You dont need a brilliant computer to write transcripts, but it will help if you have a solid keyboard. Sitting at a proper desk will help you concentrate, and a quality keyboard will increase your typing speed. Ultimately, you should do what you find most comfortable. Just be aware that you will be typing for at least three-four times the length of your recording.
Your headphones: Good quality headphones are important. You will need to wear them for an extended period of time, and improved sound quality will help you pick out little details. Although certainly optional, over the ear headphones with noise isolating qualities are considered optimal by professional transcriptionists.
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Go Through It Again And Edit
After you have your first draft, you need to go through it again and edit it. It should be a readable transcript, but it will most likely contain typos and have sections missing so you need to rectify this.
Listen to the recording again from the start and compare it against the transcript. Make sure everything is accurate and edit it accordingly. This may take a couple of hours so its important to have patience, but itll be much easier once you already have a rough transcript made.
Using the shortcuts you set up during the rough transcript process can speed up your editing, so try to prepare as much as you can.
Once you think you have completed your first edited draft, now is the time to proofread. Replay the recording and check for accuracy. Edit these last few bits as you listen to the recording.