Case Study

Accuracy, timeliness or affordability. Answer: all of the above.

The importance of qualitative research cannot be understated. Through a one three-year-long research project, one university looked to obtain data via interviews and focus groups. Their goal: develop interventions and improve programs to instigate health behavior change to reduce obesity risk, particular for those living in underserved communities.

Time became a factor, according to research coordinator Katrina. The need to quickly and accurately transcribe audio could significantly reduce the time between data collection, analysis, and application of findings. Outsourcing transcription services at the university level is often seen as an unaffordable luxury.

Universities are however changing their tune. They see that it is well worth the investment to allocate resources to a professional transcription company – in particular, one that is highly reliable, communicative, accurate, and sensitive to the needs of academics/researchers.

Time is more valuable than money. Using professional academic transcription services can save a lot of time indeed:

A professional transcriptionist can transcribe a 4-speaker file in 3 to 4 times the audio length.

An inexperienced person can transcribe a 4-speaker file in 9 to 10 times the audio length.

For a 30-minute group interview, it would take us 2 hours compared to an untrained person’s 5 hours.

If you have 30 hours of interviews, it’s the difference between 5 days for us, and 12 and a half straight days for you.

Katrina says, “I have been in situations where research staff or interns are tasked with manually transcribing audio files or need to ‘clean’ professionally done transcripts because they have many inaccuracies or are missing text from supposedly inaudible segments – this process costs time and energy (which academics and researchers can agree, we have very little of).”

“One of the most valuable aspects of professional university transcription services is the streamlining of the entire research process,” Katrina says. “Even during the interview process, the recording fades to the background and you get more absorbed in the interviews themselves. You’re able to do more interviews in a row, and you spend less time between those interviews and presenting your conclusions so everything is totally fresh.”

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