Transcriptions for academic research

by Knockhundred Admin

At first sight, transcribing seems to be a straightforward task of simply listening to what has been said, and writing it down. Transcriptions to be used as part of a piece of academic research can be more complicated.

This is why corners should never be cut when it comes to transcribing such material. Julia Bailey’s article in Family Practice successfully identifies the questions you need to ask yourself before commissioning a transcription service:

What are the aims of the research project and how might that impact on how I need the transcription to be carried out?

The aims of a project and methodological assumptions have implications for the form and content of transcripts since different features of data will be of analytic interest.

What level of detail is required in the transcription?

Will you require the social chit chat included at the beginning of the interview, or the asides to the cameraman included?

Should visual data or non-verbal information in video transcription be captured?

If as part of your analysis you require the transcriber to note facial expressions or off-screen noises (telephone ringing?), you need to establish how these aspects are to be recorded on the transcript in a consistent manner. Will you need these elements to be coded?

Do you wish the transcriber to capture the way something is said?

The meanings of utterances are profoundly shaped by the way in which something is said in addition to what is said. If this is to be captured, transcriptions need to be very detailed to capture features of talk such as emphasis, speed, tone of voice, timing and pauses as these elements can be crucial for interpreting data.

How much time is needed for the transcription stage?

Every one hour of recorded material will take 3 or 4 hours to complete provided the audio quality is good and the formatting requirements are simple. If a high level of detail is required, then you should allow up to 10 hours of transcription time for every hour of recorded material. You’ll need to ensure your schedule and budget take these elements into account.

If you would be interested in learning more about our transcription service for academic research, please do get in touch.