Take Note Team
When it comes to primary research-based dissertations, interviews are often essential. You need to ensure that you get the findings you need.
To help you do this, just recording the interview and making notes might not be enough. To gain a fuller picture of your interviews — especially longer ones — you need to have them transcribed. Having a dissertation interview transcription can allow you to see more clearly what was said and see the findings you need to help you write your dissertation.
However, if you haven’t had lengthy interviews transcribed before, you may not know which kind of transcription will suit your needs best.
In this article, we provide a guide to academic transcription services and explain the different kinds of transcripts there are, all of which may be suited to your needs. Let’s get started!
Why get dissertation interview transcriptions?
You have the raw data (the audio of the interview), so why bother going to the effort (or expense) of transcribing it? While you may indeed go back to the raw audio to pick up on nuances of vocal expression which paint a broader picture than merely the words stated, audio files are extremely difficult to parse and mine for the information you need.
Ease of interrogation
A transcript of your recorded interview allows you to go back and interrogate the data much more quickly and in greater detail than going back and forth through the audio listening to a certain snippet over and over again.
It’s quicker and more efficient to peruse a large piece of text and mine the information you need from it, while a recorded interview (even one with timestamps) can be cumbersome and time-consuming to interrogate. It could take minutes of back and forth on a track bar to achieve what can be done in mere seconds with a simple “CTRL+ F” search.
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An easier interviewing experience
What’s more, knowing you’ll get a transcript of your recorded interview allows you to focus and be in the moment while actually conducting the interview itself. You can tailor your questions to match the flow of the conversation and potentially get far more qualitative data from the interview than sticking to your scripted questions.
A transcription can not only help to ensure more accurate data interrogation and analysis, it can even improve the quality of the interview itself.
How to prepare before you get an academic transcription
Hopefully you’ve read enough to consider the advantages of transcribing your interview. However, before you and your subject sit down together, doing a little preparation before can ensure that you’ve laid a strong foundation for your interview to be transcribed accurately.
The last thing you need is to record an interview of incredible quality only for it to be rendered indecipherable by poor quality audio. But this goes way beyond making sure you have a decent microphone and are aware of the effects that any ambient sound might have on the audio quality (those are still really important by the way).
You need to fully disclose to the interviewee well in advance that they're going to be recorded. It will make sure that your subject pays a little more attention to their diction whether they’re aware they’re doing it or not. It’s also best practice for sensitive interviews. You may need to give assurances about how you will record, store and (if necessary) destroy the interview materials.
While a smartphone voice recorder may be perfectly acceptable, these are best suited to environments with no ambient noise and your subject will need to speak with clarity and precision. A dedicated voice recorder will ensure the quality of the audio is better, ensuring you get a more accurate transcript.
Human or automated services?
Once your interview is recorded to a satisfactory standard, you should think about how you’d like the interview to be transcribed.
Broadly speaking, you’ll need to decide whether you’d prefer a human transcription service or an automated service which uses Automated Speech Recognition (ASR). Each has its benefits and caveats.
ASR services are very affordable and some even have free trials. What’s more, most can transcribe even lengthy passages of audio in just a few minutes. However, they may let you down in terms of quality. Even under ideal conditions, most ASR solutions fail to top 85% accuracy. You may lose the time you’ve gained if you have to meticulously go through the text and correct errors.
Human transcription services may be costlier and take longer, but they will represent a degree of accuracy that you simply can’t get from equivalent ASR-based services. What’s more, you can either pay more to get your transcript faster or pay a budget rate and wait a little longer for your transcript. It all depends on what your priorities are.
You also have much more choice in terms of the kinds of transcription services available to you when using human services. This brings us very neatly to...
What kind of transcription do you need?
There are several different kinds of transcription services. Which one is best for you will depend on your needs and how your interview will ultimately inform your dissertation. Still, it’s better to have a surplus of options than too few.
Your options are:
These transcripts capture everything. They capture not only the main body of what is said but also pauses, grunts, “umms”, “aahs”, “y’knows” and other linguistic tics that make up human speech. These may be seen as vital for qualitative context… Or simply unnecessary distractions. It depends on your needs. Notes on speech tics can also be included for a small additional fee.
Also known as intelligent verbatim, word-for-word and clean verbatim, this is full verbatim with all the fat trimmed off. All the speech tics are removed and you have only what is said. It’s the easiest to read and most likely the best option for your interview. This may, however-include off-topic conversation and dead ends.
Sometimes, it’s not necessary to capture all that what is said. Sometimes it’s better to distill the interview content into a few pages worth of notes which can be quickly and easily interrogated for quick and easy reference. Detailed notes enable you to do exactly that. All extraneous information and off-topic chat is removed.
Get the dissertation interview transcription you need
When writing your dissertation, it’s absolutely vital to get easy access to the information you need that will enrich and inform your work. Gleaning that from an audio interview, however, can be very challenging. Choosing the right transcription service for you gets you the data you need when you need it. It can help you to find the meaning in the most subtle nuances of speech or distil a conversation lasting hours into a handful of bullet points.
It’s all about finding a service that suits your needs!
If you found this article about transcribing your dissertation interview helpful and want to find out more about picking the right transcription services for you, our Ultimate Guide to Transcription Services is perfect for you.