Anonymised transcription

Anonymised transcription

A common query that arises whenever researchers and academics request transcription services is that certain parts of the recording are kept strictly anonymous. They often ask how this can be done, or indeed whether it can be done at all, particularly because the recording is going to have to be sent to a transcription company like universitytranscriptions.co.uk and a transcriber to listen to it. Surely the recording is not anonymous because the moment you send it to a transcription company, someone else knows about it?

This is one of the reasons that universitytranscriptions.co.uk is the leading academic transcriber in the UK, on almost all university preferred supplier lists, and with over 15 years experience transcribing a full range of recordings from the mundane to the most serious and strictly confidential.

All transcribers who take work from us have signed confidentiality undertaking and are based in the UK. They have provided full proof of ID and residence to us and in most cases have been working with us for many years. We have worked on highly confidential government proceedings, prosecutions involving celebrities, various high level inquiries, court proceedings, social services matters and just about everything from the highly confidential to state secrets.

So you can rest assured that the moment you send us your recording, it is kept in strict confidence, uploaded via our SSL secure server and retained solely in the UK in compliance with various regulations including GDPR and Cyber Essentials standards.

But once the recording has been transcribed, how do you ensure that elements of the transcription are kept confidential? One of the options that University Transcriptions can offer is the removal of place names and people’s names. By this I mean that we can substitute names of individuals, places, company names, any sort of name that occurs throughout the recording with a placeholder tag instead. E.g. My name is George and live in Bradford would be My name is <name> and I live in <place>.

So for example if you are interviewing a man called George, based in Bradford and you do not want anyone to know the subject’s name is George or that he is based in Bradford, we can replace the word George with anything you like (e.g. subject 1), and the location can be changed or modified to a different town completely, or just simply a town.

We can do this before we send you the transcription back, and you can then be assured that the recording has taken place, it has gone to a transcriber subject to a strict confidentiality undertaking, kept within the UK on secure servers, emailed back to you without any reference at all to particular information that needs to be kept strictly anonymous, and at all times no-one will ever know the information you require keeping confidential. It may be useful to be able to reassure the subjects you are interviewing for academic research before you start, to say that the recording is strictly confidential and is only going to be listened to by a transcriber in the UK, and once the recording has been put on to paper their name, location or company etc is going to remain anonymous forever.

But what happens to the recording? We delete all recordings within one month unless requested otherwise, so your subject can be reassured that if they do consent to take part in your research or academic studies, their information will be gone within the month in any circumstances and in a shorter time frame if so requested. We would normally recommend asking us to retain the recording on file for at least 4 weeks, just in case there are any queries about the original recording, particularly if you have not kept a copy yourself.

For further details of our strictly confidential and anonymised transcription please visit www.universitytranscriptions.co.uk. For information on confidential patient data in the NHS and the way it is used, please visit the Understanding Patient Data website at https://understandingpatientdata.org.uk/ (a Wellcome Trust website).