Case Study

University transcription services are a vital part of qualitative research that use data recorded from interviews and focus groups. All the research projects I’ve managed in the last three years have used this type of data to develop interventions or improve programs that target health behavior change to reduce obesity risk, particularly in under-served populations.

University transcription services that quickly and accurately transcribe audio from interviews or focus groups can significantly reduce the time between data collection, analysis, and application of findings. Although transcription services are sometimes viewed as a luxury, particularly by early-career researchers/investigators with limited funding, it is well worth the investment to allocate resources for a professional transcription company – in particular, one that is highly reliable, communicative, accurate, and sensitive to the needs of academics/researchers.

“Many view transcriptions as a luxury”

Katrina says that many academics (and researchers) early on in their career view university transcription services as a luxury. As they move through their academic programs, however, it becomes increasingly clear that time is a more valuable resource 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 reports, it’s the difference between 5 days for us, and 12 and a half straight days for you.

The importance of choosing well

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).”

Reducing time between research
and conclusions

One of the most valuable aspects of professional university transcription services, Katrina says, is the streamlining of the entire research process. Even during the interview process, the recording fades to the background and you get more absorbed in the interviews themselves, she says, and 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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