Skip to main content

Last updated: July 13, 2022

Transcribing interviews for qualitative research can be significantly beneficial. Especially with market research, interview transcripts allow you to have a better understanding of your raw data by having an easily navigable text file you can quickly refer to.

In most cases, interview transcriptions can be cumbersome. However, if you have the right process, you can reap the benefits of transcriptions without expending too much effort.

Here’s a simple guide for transcribing interviews:

1. Record the interview

The first step to transcribing interviews is to have an audio recording. While it may go without saying, there are certain measures you can take to get clean audio.

For best results, here are tips for recording clean interview audio:

  • Inform the interviewee that the interview will be recorded and transcribed for research purposes out of courtesy.
  • Use a recording device like a voice recorder or a mobile phone with an audio recording app.
  • Place the recording device near the interviewer and interviewee and make sure that it can pick up both their voices clearly.
  • As an extra precaution, use a second recording device simultaneously in case the first one suddenly stops recording.
  • Ensure that all your recording devices are fully charged prior to recording to prevent delays or sudden stops in recording.

2. Transfer the audio file to a computer

Interview transcription typically requires a desktop or laptop computer to complete. This is due to the flexibility and agility that you can have when using a computer.

As much as possible, keep multiple copies of the audio file in various storage locations. This is in case the original file becomes corrupted.

3. Transcribe the interview audio

The main bulk of the work is in transcribing the audio. It can seem daunting at first, especially if the audio is long. However, if you have the right process, you should be able to breeze through it.

Here’s a step-by-step process:

  1. Open the media player app and text processor of your choice.
  2. Place both your media player and text processor beside each other. In Windows, you can use “Snap Assist” to do this by dragging the window to either side of the screen. In macOS, you can use “Tile Window,” the green button on the upper left corner of the window.
  3. Open the audio recording on your media player.
  4. Play the file and start transcribing your audio recording.
  5. Transcribe each line of dialogue in a fixed format. An example is “[hour:minute:second] Speaker Name: Utterance” (e.g. [01:30:15] John: I am transcribing an audio recording).
  6. You can either do a smart verbatim transcription or a pure verbatim transcription. For qualitative research purposes, however, it’s best to do the latter to avoid missing key insights.
  7. If you are unable to decipher a part of the audio, indicate it with a marker such as [Unintelligible] or [?] or add the timestamp so you can go back to it later.
  8. For key insights, it’s highly recommended to place an asterisk at the end of that line or highlight the specific portion.

Transcribing interviews can be quite tedious. You’re likely to rewind the audio recording multiple times to catch what a speaker said. Thus, expect to spend a lot of time and energy to do the transcription. Alternatively, you can send the audio recording to TranscriptionWing and have them transcribed for you.

4. Proofread your transcript

After you finish transcribing, you need to proofread your transcript to make sure that it’s accurate. Accuracy is vital, especially with qualitative research, as it can be fatal to your findings if you miss a detail.

To do this:

  1. Keep the media player and text processor in the same locations as before.
  2. Play the audio recording from the beginning and scroll down the text processor as you follow the discussion.
  3. If you spot an error, pause the recording and correct it.
  4. Correct any parts that you marked unintelligible.

You can do this as many times as you need to achieve better accuracy. However, it may be best to proofread it once to save time.

Once you’re satisfied, you can close your media player and save your transcript. Like with the audio recording, keep multiple copies of the transcript to prevent hours of work from going to waste.

5. Extract key insights

You should now have a transcript of your audio recording. As a text file, it’s much easier to navigate and search specific parts of the recording. For qualitative research, your transcript can save a lot of time and energy that you need for analyzing your findings.

This part is simple: read through your entire transcript and identify the key insights of the discussion. Alternatively, you can use the search function to navigate to keywords or phrases in a snap. If you’ve placed asterisks, you can simply type an *  on the search bar to immediately jump to that insight.

Your interview transcript is an essential tool for enhancing your qualitative research. However, transcribing qualitative interviews can be very costly in terms of time and energy if you do multiple interviews. This can prove fatal if your research is time-sensitive. Instead of doing it yourself, consider using TranscriptionWing to transcribe your interviews. Simply send your interview audio and receive a verbatim transcript formatted based on your preferences.