At TTP we’re often asked what a transcriptionist does and what the word ‘transcription’ means. Here is a quick definition of those terms: transcription is the representation of language in written form, and a transcriptionist is one who typically converts spoken words into a written or electronic text document. Modern transcriptionists often work from electronic audio files capturing speech from meetings, interviews, lectures, business forums or dictated reports within the business, legal or medical field. The speech in these files is usually typed word-for-word (verbatim) into a Word document. We hope this explanation helps make things a little clearer!
The most obvious use of transcription is to provide a written record of what was communicated orally in a meeting or interview, for example, for later reference. Of course, few things are as unidimensional as this, and there are many advantages of transcription that are rarely considered together. Perhaps the most fundamental of these is that transcription provides an accurate and precise record of spoken language. In other words, it allows us to record the exact words used by a speaker. This means that facts, numerical information, et cetera, can be reliably acquired and retained, and that a speaker’s precise meaning can be gleaned from the words/type of language used. Transcribing this information prevents later loss or misinterpretation of data where verbal communication has been forgotten or falsely recalled. Recording a conversation for later transcription also allows participants to pay attention to the speaker instead of looking down to take notes. This frees them to pay attention to body language and other non-verbal cues, that may reveal a depth of hidden information.
In this way, transcripts are an excellent business and research tool that can be used across a broad range of disciplines. For example, they are useful for studying patterns of language in linguistic research, where slight nuances in speech are instrumental to research outcomes, but easily lost when notes are made during or after an interview. They also assist in thematic or discourse analysis across multiple interviews, making it easier to identify aspects such as key words, repetitive phrases, or places where people pause/laugh. Researchers relegated to listening to each interview multiple times to collect data are weighed down by an exceptionally laborious process. Likewise in business, transcription services facilitate accurate data collection from clients, allowing an organisation to quickly and effectively tailor their services to meet client needs.
Transcription can also be a tool for evaluation of the interview process and interviewer’s skill. For example, has the interviewer interrupted too often? Were the questions adequately formulated/expressed correctly? Did the interviewer lead the participant too much? What type of questions were asked: were they open-ended or closed? Was the speaker encouraged to freely express his/her ideas without bias caused by the interviewer? Thus, transcription can be used to improve interview techniques, and if used early enough during a project, can in fact prevent bias or errors that would render the data invalid.
Other advantages of transcription include the fact that written language tends to carry more weight than recorded or live speech, as it is in black-and-white. It can also conveniently be reviewed in any setting without electronic equipment, easily reproduced/disseminated, and more readily used as proof/evidence in court. As such, transcriptions are more versatile than audio or video recordings.
Another advantage of having a written record of a conversation is that it allows you the opportunity of reflection and review of the information. Important points can also be highlighted, or additional notes or references made in the margin, thus creating conceptual links and expanding on your data.
One of the main disadvantages of using transcription is that there can be a loss of data showing intonation, emphasis on specific words, non-intelligible sounds, body language, facial expression, et cetera, however it is possible to make special note of these in a transcript by someone who has been present during the interview process.
All transcriptionists employed by TTP are highly proficient and experienced in transcription from digital files. Each has an excellent command of the English language and a fast typing speed. At TTP we pride ourselves on providing an accurate and exceptional quality transcription service to our clients, providing an invaluable resource for research or business needs. For more information, please visit our website: http://thetranscriptionpeople.com.au/
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