The Ultimate Guide to Transcriptions for Researchers

The Ultimate Guide to Transcriptions for Researchers

Need audio transcribed but don't know where to start?

Are you a student in the midst of a thesis or dissertation; a professional researcher swamped with bulk interview and focus groups; or a research assistant tasked with hours of menial transcription work along with other pressing tasks?

Everything just piles up, right? And it gets harder by the minute as your deadline draws nearer everyday. The academic community and professional research world are pressed enough for time without the extra struggle of doing tedious, time-consuming work like transcriptions.

This ultimate guide to transcriptions is developed for researchers like yourself to find the ideal solution for your sizeable transcription needs. Feel free to navigate quickly to the section most helpful to you:

What is Research Transcriptions?

Research transcriptions refer to the conversion of audio or video files of interviews, focus groups, or dictations to text documents. Rich insights are easily accessed, shared, and archived by researchers like you via transcripts which will primarily save you time and enable you to immediately scrutinize data and write reports. The transcription format has to match up to the methodological and analytic purpose of your research.

The sole purpose of transcription is to provide researchers an accessible format of gathered information from in-depth interviews, focus groups, lectures, speeches, podcasts, and seminars - throw in dictation notes as well, as researchers sometimes prefer recording their thoughts every after interview session when their memory is still fresh.

However, whether or not you will need transcriptions for your project depends on the nature of your research. Here are the two basic types of research:

  • Primary research - is a type of self-conducted research you can do on your own, or through a research firm to conduct on your or your company’s behalf. This involves direct data collection which means you go to the primary source of information such as respondents (i.e. customers, voters) your research relates to, and experts like psychologists who can back up or negate your hypotheses. The researcher conducting a primary research tend to ask questions and gather information in a precise manner like structured interviews, surveys, questionnaires, and focus groups centering on pre-identified questions.
  • Secondary research - is a type of research where you mostly base your study from information found in secondary sources like published researches, reports and studies by government agencies, articles, trade journals, and industry publications related to your research topic. Secondary research is typically utilized by small businesses or organizations with limited resources, as it is way more affordable and faster to complete than primary research.

As you may have identified already, primary research have strong descriptive and qualitative qualities needing research transcriptions for easy identification and dissection of information, while secondary research does not. However, academic researches like thesis and dissertations often consist of a combined effort of primary and secondary research. Citations, by way of footnotes or references, from secondary sources with high authority strengthen the credibility of your findings and at the same time prevents you from getting accused of plagiarism - borrowing another researcher’s or author’s words and ideas without any form of acknowledgment.

Benefits of Using Transcriptions for Research

Research is downright time consuming. The process is so unpredictable that you cannot really afford to cut corners. Having a good Internet connection makes research work easier, but there is just no good substitute for academic research best practices.

Academic research must be carried out systematically. Digging in various sources of information in a disorderly fashion will basically leave you missing most of the important insights along with several bits of crucial information. This kind of approach will most likely be a cause of delay to your project or even worse - unreliable research findings. For this very reason researchers always put transcriptions at the front-lines when conducting qualitative research studies. Here are the main benefits of using transcriptions for research:

  • Note-taking. One benefit is that you can leverage research transcription for note-taking purposes. No notes can be more reliable than accurate transcripts! It’s easy to get a hold of them too. Simply record the interviews and focus groups you conduct and leave them to a transcribing service to get the job done. Professional transcripts will be conveniently delivered to you in no time! You can also record your notes by dictation instead of jotting them down the old-fashioned way, especially when you’re conducting back-to-back interviews.
  • Accessibility. Have you ever spent hours just re-listening to a set of audio recordings to locate vital moments of your interviews? Frustrating, right? However, you can extract critical information from audio files hassle-free - research transcription is the answer! Print documents tend to have smaller file size than media files too. Transcripts are accessible, easily archived and shareable to your colleagues or project partners via email.
  • Time saver. Using research transcriptions can boost work efficiency and productivity, as all information are captured in a good manner. If you do outsource, you and your colleagues will avoid wasting and sacrificing precious time for laborious tasks like bulk transcription that can even cause burnout or academic fatigue at worst. Using research transcription services let you start data funneling, analysis, and conclusion formulation instantly. The less time you spend with menial tasks, the more time you get for pattern identification and creating actionable content in general.

There’s a slight disadvantage here too, that is if you choose to utilize dirt cheap machine-generated transcription services.  Even though automated transcriptions can generate transcripts in minutes, its accuracy is still deemed as debatable and may result to a disastrous experience.

What Kinds of Research can Benefit From Using Transcription?

Transcripts serve colossal purposes in which many kinds of research benefit from. Here are the many ways transcriptions can aid the different types of research according to its purpose:

  • General subject research refers to the type of research when an author talks to several experts to discuss whatever it is they are writing about. The author then uses the acquired information for content creation or supporting documents.
  • Academic research, like general subject research, covers a wide array of topics and disciplines. Differences are found in the purpose and method of research. The purpose of academic research is to make significant contributions to knowledge and discover solutions to problems in general through scholarly or scientific methods of investigation imperative to establishing strong principles. Academic researchers rigorously test hypotheses to understand the cause and effect relationships of known phenomena and unveil new ones.
  • Marketing research pertains to an organized effort of data collection, analyzation, and conclusion formulation about target markets or customers. Its sole purpose is to effectively link the producers, customers, and end users by understanding consumer insights and identifying marketing opportunities, uncovering and conquering problems and pain points, evaluating marketing actions, and monitoring performance among many others. The market research topic may deal with current, past, and potential customers. This type of research often delve into customer spending habits, beliefs, and demographic profile (i.e. age, gender, income level, occupation, marital status).
  • Clinical research is a type of research centering healthcare that measures the effectiveness of various medications, medical procedures, devices, diagnostic products and treatment regimens, as well as determine side effects and safety toxicity. Doing clinical research is conducted to discover more ways of treating and diagnosing illnesses. Like other researches, clinical trials involve intense human participation but are longer to complete (i.e. several months up to years).

Every qualitative study mentioned above gather data by video or audio recording interviews, focus groups, and the like. These are then transcribed into a written format to give the author or researcher the flexibility of thoroughly assessing gathered information. Transcription is the first, vital step of looking into data.

Why Hire a Transcription Service?

Transcriptions may seem like an easy task, but actually it is quite difficult to do - not to mention time consuming - especially if you, your research assistant, or intern does not have any training and enough experience doing transcriptions. Still attempting to do so often leads to time wastage and low-level transcripts. This is one of the reasons why hiring a transcribing service is the most convenient solution.

People’s nature of practicality is strong, especially when there are a lot of alternatives available in the market. Afterall, why pay for a service if you can get the same outcome for free?

Speech-to-text technology have become people’s go-to for transcriptions nowadays. It’s always the first thing on their list - it’s free, fast, and accessible. However, while the development of speech-to-text is impressive, it still has a long way to go to master the art of transcriptions. Automated transcripts seem to be always hardly accurate. Softwares are too sensitive to audio statics and background noises. And even if you are able to provide a spotless recording, accents and speed of speech will make your transcript hard to fathom.

This is why countless of researchers are still patriots of transcription services powered by human transcriptionists who have undergone intense training and have immense experience in serving the many needs of researchers conducting diverse qualitative studies worldwide. General transcription companies know what you need and have perfected the service that best suit it. No need to worry about the cost, there are many equipped transcribing services out there offering expert services at a price within either a professional or student’s budget.

Must-Have Characteristics of Research Transcription Services

You can find a lot of transcribing services out there in the market, but only a few can cater to personalized academic research transcriptions. Identify what your needs are, your project requirements, and how you can maximize transcripts for research or any possible re-purposing, then leave the rest to the transcription provider of your choosing.

Primary features you could hunt for when choosing the perfect transcription company are:

  1. Speaker identification or labeling (unlimited speakers) to easily identify who said what on focus group discussions or group interviews;
  2. Time stamping so you could ease your way through sections most useful to your research;
  3. Verbatim or word for word transcriptions to get perfect replica of the recorded dialog and extract the most accurate information essential to the generation of reliable research findings;
  4. Transcription format and template customization for showcasing your client’s brand or recognizing the logo of your academe;
  5. Video captioning and subtitling capabilities to make your video documentations accessible by people hard of hearing or people whose first language is not English; and
  6. Affordable rates and rush delivery option to help you competently beat fast-paced, concurrent deadlines without breaking the bank.

Keep everything in mind and you will surely find the perfect research transcription service for your project.


Converting visual and audible data into a written format is a fully interpretive process which is one of the first steps of looking at data. Plenty of researchers know that transcriptions are highly useful, as these greatly help them save time. Research transcripts are formatted in a reader-friendly format, enabling researchers to instantly analyze results of data collection procedures.

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