A few days back, I met one of the gentlemen travelling to NY, sitting beside me in the aircraft. After formally greeting each other we indulged in some off professional discussions where I understood that he was a researcher and was very curious and confused about transcribing all the interviews that he did – was it necessary and if yes – how to cut on the costs.
He also briefed me that one of the most important things about research and researchers, which they always try to re-live that interview experience afterwards, more than once. They always look for options which can help them with other convenient options to record their conversations, rather than relying on imperfect memory.
They are absolutely fine with alternate arrangements in form of notes taken at the time, or after the event, audio recording or even a film/video.
I had to make efforts to stop myself from jumping off my seat as this was one of my favorite subjects of discussion. I head operations for one of the leading business process management service providers in India. Here I have tried to collate the entire discussion in form of an article for the benefit of one and all.
Interview transcriptions, or audio transcription of linguistic interviews, are usually do not cost much, may it be an individual research interview or a focus group discussion. However we always come across ways and means to make processes cost effective and the same is applicable when you transcribe audio and video dictations.
Factors that make transcribing audio file to text documents a bit more expensive vary from quality of the recording done to the time one gives to have the transcription done. Also there are chances that you may end up cutting down transcription costs up to 50%, however the decision to do so needs to be made well in advance, even beforehand the interview recording.
Sensible Time Management
We all have come a long way, and understand it very well that time and money complement each other. In order to manage the time lines one is supposed to plan out the entire activity; well ahead of the interview. Upon recording, make it available to the transcriber in the first opportunity. Get in sync with the interviewee well in advance so as to avoid any delays caused due understand issues with former individual.
Also not to forget that late handling of transcribing audio and video dictations will warrant less time, a day or 2 in some cases for execution, enhancing the cost by 2 to 3 times as compared to the turnaround time of 4-5 working days.
The risk of compromising the quality also doubles when the work needs to be done in a hustle bustle manner. Being effective while recording the interview and submitting it to the transcriber in a timely manner; could help you to save considerably.
Transcription Method – Suit Yourself
Having the right kind of transcription method, at the back of your mind, helps a lot. It is crucial in cases of transcriptions to be done for recordings of focus group discussion, reason being the need if identifying various speakers in the discussion.
A small trick like marking different speakers by using numbers such as ‘speaker 1’or letters like ‘speaker A’, would work to your advantage – big time.
This becomes a cakewalk for the transcriptionist and hence he/she might end up charging you the normal rate, again saving you some cost.
Recording with Enhanced Audio Quality
After all these interviews, one knows that the recorded audio to any of the interviews decides the cost of transcription that would be incurred. Poor audio quality makes it all the more difficult for the transcriber to capture all and important words, especially in case of verbatim transcription, where you might be charged double the rate than normal transcriptions.
Ensuring and making yourself available the appropriate kind of equipment to record the interview, a venue without any noise in background and interruptions would certainly work to your advantage. An external microphone as well would do wonders for you, saving your interview from unclear voice of the interviewee. All these benefits put together could certainly lead the transcriptionist to reduced work and in turn diminishing transcription costs.
A lot of projects, you may come across, done these days might not have adequate budget for transcription or in house team does not have sufficient time to transcribe in detail. What they do is to listen to the recordings and take down general points.
But this is temporary arrangement which makes everyone pretty uncomfortable as the chances of missing out on some of the vital information is always hovering over, and at the same time they might also miss out on some of the most enjoyable part of the research process.
About the Author
Champak Pol is a Project Manager at Hi-Tech Transcription Services and a passionate writer with the experience of 10+ years of in transcription industry. Champak has worked with several international clients and has executed transcription projects of varying scales and complexities.