Generating Transcripts – It’s either time or money.

In my previous blog I discussed factors that set the stage for collecting high quality data when you are conducting and recording interviews or focus groups. Qualitative researchers commonly use the transcripts generated from these recordings as their primary data source.

If you are using digital audio recorders or an online platform to collect your data, you may be wondering about options for transcription. Here are four for you to consider.

  1. Transcribe the material yourself using transcription software or NVivo’s audio (or video) functions to listen to the recording. I personally find this time-consuming, but some analysts prefer doing their own transcription as it allows them to dive deeper into their data.
  2. Audio or video recordings can also be shared with a transcriptionist or transcription service where a real human being (other than you) will listen to the recording and generate the electronic copy of the transcript. This option tends to generate the highest quality transcript requiring the least amount of review work for you, assuming you have an experienced transcriptionist who is familiar with your topic. But it is also likely to be the most expensive and may require some wait time.
  3. If you collected your data online (e.g., in Zoom or MS Teams), another option is to use the ability of the online recording platform to generate transcripts – if that function is available to you. Typically, the transcript is immediately available with almost no wait time. I find the quality of this type of auto-generated transcripts is improving all the time. But you can still count on spending time reviewing it to ensure accuracy, especially if there are technical terms, acronyms or jargon in your data.
  4. Use NVivo Transcription or another auto-transcription service. Auto-transcription is becoming more and more common and increasingly accurate. You upload the recording and it produces the transcript. This transcription option has a quick turnaround time and is often affordably priced. Transcripts generated this way still require review for accuracy, as well as editing for speaker names. With NVivo Transcription (a secure, pay-as-you-go service) review work may decrease over time as you build your transcription dictionary to recognize acronyms or speciality terms common to your data.

When I review this list, I am reminded of the adage, “it’s either time or money.” That is, you can spend the time doing some or all the transcription work yourself or spend the money to have it done. Either way you are aiming for transcripts that accurately reflect the data collected and are generated in a way that works well for you and your team. Well-prepared transcripts save time and improve analysis efficiency, giving you the best data to import into NVivo.

To help you think through transcription options, I’ve created a summary table. Click on the image below to view and/or download.

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