What does a transcriber do and what is audio transcription?

Outsource freelance transcriptionist

Recording interviews, conversations, meetings and such like is easier now than it ever has been.  Technology has advanced so far where now we can record on our smartphones at the touch of a button.

Using modern technology in this way, as a back-up for detail discussed in a meeting, for example, or interviewing someone for academic study or a journalist interview.  Most of these recordings are made with the intention of converting them into text, and this is what’s known as audio transcription.  Audio and Video Transcription is the skilled art and process of converting recorded speech into written documents, commonly called transcripts.

Foot pedal for audio or video transcription
Transcriber’s Best Friend the Foot Pedal

Producing a document or transcript can be very time-consuming, even for the quickest of typists, without specialist transcribing software and a foot pedal to avoid taking your hands off the keyboard, rewinding even for a few second to replay can be difficult and frustrating.

This is where outsourcing your recorded audio or video to a general transcriptionist (depending on the subject area) can be very beneficial.  The time it saves you, against the cost of a freelance transcriptionist will be to your benefit.  You will, in an agreed time, receive an accurate transcript that has been transcribed manually, directly from your recording.

The Transcriber’s Role

“A transcriber is someone who writes down what someone else is saying.” 

Initially, a transcriber was a person that wrote things down in shorthand, but this art is dying out.  Technology and the fact it isn’t taught anymore means, unfortunately, this art of note-taking is no-longer used.

Instead, recordings made on your laptop or tablet, for example, can then immediately be uploaded to your transcriptionist, via email or a sharing application like DropBox or Google Drive.  They then download the audio, upload to their professional software player and begin to type what they hear in the speech content into a transcript for you.

As part of the transcriber’s role, unlike years ago where commas, full-stops and new paragraphs were dictated, in today’s advanced world, an experienced transcriber will insert the appropriate grammar for you, as a matter of course during typing.  This is certainly something here at Virtuadmin that I do for clients; it is a natural thing to do.  Without it, I cannot read if the transcript makes sense or not.

How long does transcription take?

A professional touch typist should be able to type in the region of 75 words per minute.  At this speed, the industry standard states a minimum of 4-5 hours to transcribe 1 hours recorded audio or video.  However, there are other factors that the client and transcriptionist need to consider regarding the audio for transcription.  They are:-

– The speed at which the participants of the audio are talking

– The number of participants in the audio talking (cross talking)

– The clarity of the recording (background noise, phone interview, interference)

– The speech clarity of the participating speakers (accents, speaking English as a second language, mumbling, no close enough to the microphone)

These are the variables that will add time to transcribing an hour’s recorded audio.  It is difficult to say how much time should be allowed for these variables, so it is worth keeping in mind that a professional transcriptionist cannot type at the same rate as the average person talking, no matter how fast they are.  People generally speak 4-5 times faster than what an experienced transcriber can type. 

How to hire a professional transcriber?

Professional transcribers can commonly be found on freelance websites, People Per Hour, Fivesquid, UpWork, are examples of these.  Using these types of websites gives you the ability to see the service provider’s feedback, as well as protecting your money against a poor job, or no delivery at all.

There are transcription companies as service providers; they are specialist businesses that only provide the transcription.  The employ teams of transcribers, either remotely on in-house.  (You don’t get the same direct contact with your transcriptionist as compared to using a freelancer.)  These are a self-service type website, you upload your audio and either pay a deposit of invoice after the audio or video has been completed.

Another option is to contact a professional transcriber directly.  Search on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram to mention a few social networks as a source to find a transcriptionist.  Search by a hashtag #transcriber or #transcriptionist and up will pop the latest tweets, on Twitter for example.

If you choose to contact directly, saving yourself time and money from not using a 3rd party freelance website like People per Hour, for example, there are some questions you can ask them as tips as to how professional and experienced they are.  Someone may think they can type quickly, but listening to an interview, for example, can be very tricky to rewind a few seconds without a foot pedal and professional transcribing software, like NCH Software, something Virtuadmin has had for many years.  (When I downloaded the free version you couldn’t use a foot pedal with the software, you had to purchase the professional version!)

What rates do transcriptionists charge?

For audio transcription by an experienced transcriber, you would usually pay by the recorded audio minute.  The rates vary from company to company or transcribe to transcribe.  But, charging in this way helps you know the cost from the outset.  Here at Virtuadmin for example, my rate starts at 60p per audio minute for a single speaker audio that is of very good quality.  It is 70p per audio minute for a 2-speaker clear clarity recording.

It is usual for a speech-to-text service, either company or freelancer to add on per minute, 30-minutes or per hour for audios that contain background noise, or the speech clarity is difficult to hear, for example.  For these types of audio to be transcribed the transcriptionist must first get the audio to a quality that is suitable listening volume.  This can take sometimes a few hours for this, so don’t think if you have a difficult audio that they are just looking to increase the cost, it is genuinely time-consuming to repair a recording to suitable levels for a transcript.

Conclusion

A transcriber is a professional touch typist that listens to recorded speech and types what they hear.  A professional will insert the necessary grammar, and intelligently paragraph where necessary within the transcript.  A transcriber will touch type between 50-80 words per minute (WPM) and would usually take 4-5 hours to transcribe one hour of recorded audio, as an approximate guide.

A transcription company that hires typists either remotely or in-house will probably have a higher fee, due to their overheads and profit before paying the transcriptionists.  It is more usual for a professional freelance transcriptionist to be more affordable due to their fewer overheads.

Dealing with a transcription company you don’t always get the direct communication or personalisation as with using a freelancer.  An independent transcriber, either working with them directly or through a freelancing website and working with them, you can expect more flexibility. 

Most freelance transcribers will accommodate a template if you have one, or use their own if you don’t.  If there is noise interference, you can discuss with them.  For another example, let’s say you only wanted a certain part of the audio transcribed, or a certain part time-stamped for ease of reference.

Using a freelance transcription service, like Virtuadmin for example, is the quickest and most affordable way to go.  Work is usually turned around as soon as it is received, therefore, approaching a freelancer offering a transcription service, they are most likely in a position to start it immediately, rather than wait in a queue for one to become available with a transcription service company.

Guest Posting and Link Building: My Warning

Warnings of who is asking to guest post

On Thursday 25th May 2017 Matt G Southern a well-known and respected writer at the Search Engine Journal published the article “Google Issues a Warning About Guest Posting to Build Links“.

I began to read the article hoping that an issue that happened to me recently would be mentioned, but it wasn’t.  This article is also a warning, but of a different kind when accepting guests posts onto your website for the purpose of forming genuine, respectful links.

However, as already stated in the published post by Matt Southern, the posts can be misleading and the links are in fact spammy.  This was what was quoted yesterday directly from Google.

Google has issued a warning to remind site owners about the dangers of publishing content on other sites for the purpose of building inbound links.

The company doesn’t frown on guest posts or syndicated posts in general, but lately there has been an increase in spammy links stuffed into these types of posts. That’s the reason behind this sudden warning from Google.

Distributing content on a large scale when the main intention is to build links back to your own site is strictly prohibited under Google’s guidelines on link schemes.

But what if there is another reason that people are approaching small businesses to guest post?  I, from experience, can tell you there is.

Is Guest Posting What it Seems?

I have been approached by email on several occasions over the years I have had my website asking if I accept guest posts.  Surprised at this as Virtuadmin.uk to be perfectly honest doesn’t have a tremendous amount of traffic, so together with other SEO (search engine optimisation) publishing guests posts is an ideal way to gain genuine backlinks to improve my SERPs results myself.

The person that contacted me introduced themselves to me as a “Content Writer & Editor” full of praise for my website and to quote in their opening statement “I am a business content writer and I chanced upon virtuadmin.uk“.

I am no website designer, personally, I feel that my website is somewhat amateurish but enjoy the challenges of attempting to improve it to what I consider a professional standard (not there yet but trying!); I am not a website designer but an experienced touch typist and transcriptionist!

Emails were sent back and forth, not very frequently, once every two weeks or so.  They would send an email to say they were working on my article and would email once it was ready for review and any edits I would like.

When the final article came back, I read through it very impressed, suggested some edits to the post, which were duly done.

In the meantime of waiting for the finished article to come back and then be published on this website, I decided to do a bit of research into the person that had contacted me.  I usually do this when I get requests to accept guest posts or infographics.

My Shock

I was horrified to discover the person that had initially contacted, maintained communications with me so professionally, written such a brilliant post I couldn’t wait to publish it, was my biggest competitor. 

Just to be sure of my facts, I looked for information on the person on the professional alternative to Facebook, LinkedIn and Tweeted the company directly to ask if they had a content writer of that name, to which they replied they had and gave me their email address!

This company did not just provide the service in the niche area that I am working solo as a transcriptionist and typist, but many other types of administration duties that can be outsourced and carried out online.  They are very established, very large.  In my mind, if someone chanced upon the article upon my website, I always reference guest post at the beginning, therefore technically I would have been sending business to them.

Personally, I just can’t help wondering for a company so large why are they trying to take out small-time work-from-home Mums like myself?  It’s not just that, why the underhanded way in which they approached me, not even volunteering the information of who they worked for as a Content Writer and Editor!

My Warning and Advice

My warning to anyone that is trying to genuine improve their website rankings without the budget of hiring SEO experts or other tactical ways of achieving page one on Google SERPs, if you are approached out of the blue, just like I was, be polite, the might be genuine but check them out.

How?  Firstly, Google or Bing is a great start.  If it is a common name like the person I was researching, narrow the results down with the details you have.  Location, their job, email address, alternatively LinkedIn.

Even with minimal information, I only had a name, email address and job title, for example, but believe me, you can research the person concerned, you can find out who they are that has contacted you to make this request it.

Hopefully, unlike my unfortunate experience, they are equally a small-time business or stay-at-home Mum or Entrepreneur looking to make genuine backlinks because you share a common niche area.

 

 

 

 

Limitations in Interview Transcription

Limitatioins on Interview TranscriptionInterview Transcription Prone To Errors Due To Certain Limitations by Ritesh Sanghani

Interview transcription looks quite simple but in real life, it is very a complex and an intricate task. It should be noted that mainstream semi-structured and structured interviews necessitate a comprehensive transcription that needs to be accessible by the interviewee to scrutinize for respondent authentication.

Sociolinguistic research being the exception to the rule wherein the transcription needs to be understood from speech to print. It should be transformed in a manner that satisfies the interviewer and interviewee.

Interview Transcription Considerations:

Transcriptionists need to artificially augment the language for lucidity and suitability. It is significant to take note that ethics should be taken into consideration while conducting transcription validation and understanding the requirements of the respondents. There has been a lot of debate on types of interview, questionnaire design, benefits and limitations of audio recording, but the very insignificant proportion has been written about transcribing the interview.

According to Holstein and Gubrium, 1995, p.78, “If conceivable the research needs to be taken into consideration for audio or videotape interviews. The tapes can be used after for transcription for close scrutinization. There is nothing mentioned about whether the transcription of an interview from spoken to written word can be problematic.

According to Rubin and Rubin, 1995, p86, “It is very significant to note how transcription was developed and how the transcriptions were substantiated. It should also be noted that transcription should integrate pauses and other non-verbal hints of what happened. If the transcriptions are in final revised drafts of the tape recordings, you should also consider what was left out.”

Selections for the treatment and conduct of transcriptions need to be followed up but the situations under which these selections about editing and verification should be made are ignored. It is a known fact that structured interview consists of closed questions and the interviewer will finish the transcription throughout the progression of the interview. There is no need for audio recording.

For different types of interviews, a wide array of linguistic features needs to be figured out like tone, emphasis, body language, the setting and so on. It is very important to take into consideration interviewee’s comprehensions and views. Woods (1996) and Bell (1993) recommend varied methods of partial transcription where the researcher preserves comprehensive interview notes and has critical passages of the tape transcribed. According to Rubin and Rubin (1995), “It is an embarrassment when you tape for preciseness and then do not have a comprehensive transcription at the finish line.”

The Specifics of Interview Transcription:

Interview transcription can become one of the most tedious jobs that you will ever come across. It is very tough and extensive and requires a lot of concentration. Nearly around 6 hours need to be spent on each recorded hour for interview transcription. According to MCLELLAN, MACQUEEN and NEIDIG (2003), “Unsuitable and insufficient methodology of conducting transcriptions can lead to holdups in scrutinization and research conclusion, even presenting chief errors in the findings. This leads to failure in the attempts to enhance the efficacy of transcription which leads to greater delays.”

A research conducted by MEHRABIAN (1971) showcase that approximately 7 percent of information carried out by direct face-to-face communication is done through words alone and there is an approximate value of 38 percent which is integrated by vocal tones that enhance the information transmitted. But because it is very intricate to interpret symbols the procedure of transcription sometimes loses out the meeting of conducting transcripts.”

According to BAUER and GASKELL (2000), conversation analysts “We have created symbols that help in interpreting the missing pieces. There are certain symbols that have certain meaning but can be difficult to gauge and can be time-consuming but can be utilized to gather the missing pieces of information.

There Can be Different Reasons for the Interview Transcription Errors. The TWO Prominent Reasons Being Equipment Failure and Environmental Hazard.

1. Equipment Failure:

About 10% of interview transcription errors are prone to equipment failure. There are bound to be some equipment failure when you conduct interview transcription. Whether, it is the recorder or camera stopping, batteries dying, electricity going out or other issues. Hence, it is very important for transcriptionists to have a traditional backup plan of pen and pencil. To avoid this embarrassment it is important to evaluate all equipment before the interview. It is also significant to have additional batteries at your disposal and a camera or third recorder just in case if there is some problem with the recorder.

2. Environmental Hazard:

Approximately 15% of interview transcription errors occur due to environmental hazards. Background noise is one of the most deterring factors disturbing the transcriptionist. The background noise may or may not be the only thing hampering the productivity of the transcriptionist. It can also be the sensitive microphone of the camera or recorder that intensifies the sound which hampers the transcriptionist to understand the conversation.

When the equipment is turned on and off the relentless disruption also breaks the rhythm of the transcriptionist.  In order to avoid an environmental hazard, it is imperative for the transcriptionist to sit at a quiet place. It is also significant to have recorder or microphone close to record the conversation.

Oliver, Serovich, and Mason, authors of “Constraints and Opportunities with Interview Transcription: towards Reflection in Qualitative Research” (2005) claim that their differences between naturalism and denaturalize.  Naturalism is when every word uttered is transcribed in a comprehensive manner while denaturalize is when the characteristics elements of speech encompassing stutters, pauses, nonverbal, and involuntary vocalizations are eradicated.

There is no fixed pattern of conducting interview transcription.  Sometimes transcriptionists utilize a combination of both these methods.

This article was originally posted on http://www.hitechbpo.com/ August 12th, 2014

Image Credit: http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/notrocketscience/files/2010/08/Microphone.jpg