How to Guides for Audio Transcription

How to Record an Academic Transcription
How to Get an Academic Dissertation Transcription transcribed or typed up

Record an Academic Transcription

Get the Right Microphone

There are lots of different ways of recording academic work. If you are recording a lecture, then the best method is simply to get a voice recorder and place it near to the speaker (lecturer).  If you are recording a meeting, it is worth getting an omnidirectional microphone and plugging this into a voice recorder. The same applies for one to one interviews and seminar recordings. Too often we find that people record interviews, meetings, seminars and lectures using a unidirectional microphone which immediately excludes the vast majority of the room they are trying to record.

Avoid Noisy Environments

Make sure that you do not try and record in a noisy room or environment. Quite a few recordings are ruined by the fact that they have been undertaken in a café or echoey hall which may sound clear when you are recording it, but very difficult to follow if you are the transcriber listening in. Try to get the recording in a small room if possible and ensure that there are no background noises including radios, university cafes or music.

Request Clarity and Continuous Speed

Before starting the recording, tell everybody involved to speak clearly and as slowly as possible within the context of the recording. So for example, if you are recoding a focus group or conference, it is worth asking anyone asking a question to speak clearly and not too quickly.  Also, try to ask them to point themselves at the recorder or microphone as this can make things a lot easier when it comes to transcription.

Apple iOS not recommended

The type of software and equipment that you use can also make a considerable difference. Firstly, all of the Apple devices such as an iPad, iPod, iPhone or even an AppleMac Notebook use a particular type of software that is rarely compatible with anything else. It is particularly so in the use of transcription software because most transcription software is written for the PC and not the Mac.

Best Transcription Recording Devices

The best type of recording software to use for academic transcription is the Olympus Voice recorders, using the DSS file structure. This is because DSS files are small in size and are easy to move from one device to another. The Olympus recording software is also extremely accurate and has a good inbuilt microphone. Expect to pay about £100 for a decent recorder, but anything in the Olympus range above £25 will do for a one off recording.

Take care when researching which voice recorder to buy to ensure that the one you purchase has sufficient memory to record the audio you wish to get transcribed. Some of the cheaper models have very small storage space and it is worth looking at the reasonably sized version for anything more than an hour in length.

Cheapest Quality Transcription Services

The cheapest way of getting academic transcription transcribed is to use a company who have a standard rate for a non-turnaround time. This means that your turnaround is not guaranteed but usually most companies will aim to get the transcription back to you within 10-14 working days regardless of their prices. You will pay considerable amounts of money to use companies who have one or two day turnaround times. We also think that generally, unless the price is considerably higher, the quality of the transcription will be lower if a premium has not been charged for a fast turnaround.

Avoid Overseas Typing Centres and Voice Recognition Software for Academic Transcription

Expect to get what you pay for.  There are options on the internet for getting transcription done at a very low-cost, but these invariably involve either automated voice recognition software or typing centres based overseas with transcribers not speaking English as their first language. When transcribing, this can make a considerable difference to the level of quality and you may well spend a considerable amount of time going through the transcription and adding in extra bits.

Try to go with a company who use UK based transcribers for UK transcription, as the quality will be considerably higher.

How to get an academic dissertation transcription transcribed or typed up

Completing your dissertation in a number of academic fields invariably involves recorded word as opposed to simply typing up notes. Transcribing recordings can take considerable amounts of time & effort and is usually something that is difficult to do when you are faced with the time constraints imposed by completing a dissertation ready for marking, whether this is for masters, undergraduate or PhD level.

Use a Transcription Company

One of the quickest and easiest ways to get the work done is to use the services of a transcription company.

UniversityTranscriptions.co.uk – Purchasing Order Records and Account Numbers with most Universities

There are a number of transcription companies in the UK that are registered with the various purchasing departments of the universities and have worked with a number of the academic institutions in the past. www.universitytranscriptions.co.uk is one of these businesses.

If you work in a transcription business that has dealt with your University or College in the past then it is likely they will have a purchasing order record and account number with the University. This means that if you can get the University to pay or part-fund some of your transcription work then the transcription company is already recognised as a supplier to the academic institution and payment will be instigated swiftly. If you use a business that does not have that kind of relationship with the University then it is harder for you to be reimbursed for any of the work you have undertaken.

Funding Your Transcription Project

In the first instance, speak to your tutor or mentor to see if there are funds available to enable you to get the transcription work completed and part or fully funded by the academic institution. Transcribing is certainly not a cheap option. It takes transcribers considerable amounts of time and effort in the same way that it would take you to undertake the project if you decided to do it yourself.

Length of Time to Complete a Transcription – The Rule of Thumb

A rule of thumb is that it takes about 5 minutes to transcribe 1 minute of academic interview.

Most transcription work ranges from about 95 pence per minute through to £1.60 per minute so the cost per hour of recording can be prohibitively high for students. This is why it is important to enquire with the University as to whether they are prepared to let you use one of their suppliers to complete the work.

Recording Equipment – UniversityTranscriptions recommend Olympus

When making the recording, try to use good quality equipment. This does not need to cost a lot of money as the leading brand is Olympus. Prices for a decent recorder start from £40.00. Do not go and spend considerable amounts of money on a recorder with lots of gadgets that you are unlikely to actually need.

If you want to do the transcription work yourself (transcription is defined here as the typing or transcribing into a document of an audio recording) then you can either use Windows Media Player and be prepared to pause and rewind a lot, or alternatively get a piece of software off the internet (search NCH Express Scribe – highly recommended), a pair of headphones and possibly a pedal, particularly if you are undertaking considerable amounts of transcription work. If you are planning to do all of this you may want to think about using an external supplier..!

Pearl McNamara is the Transcription Manager for University Transcriptions, part of TP Transcription Limited. Email Pearl at pearl@universitytranscriptions.co.uk

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