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Chaos breeds confusion and hence there is much misunderstanding, many faulty assumptions, and numerous myths surrounding transcription. In order to bring a bit of clarity, let’s debunk some common transcription myths

Transcription, a service which converts speech (either recorded or live) into a written or electronic text document, is widely misunderstood because there are so many different types of transcription services available. There are specialty transcription services like legal or medical or financial, or there are generalist services. There are transcribers who go to on-site locations, and transcribers who work only virtually. There are transcription services that offer only transcription, or there are transcription services that also offer add-on services like copy-typing, editing, and even translation services. There are transcription services that are local one-person businesses or transcription services that work globally and service prestigious clients internationally.

Chaos breeds confusion and hence there is much misunderstanding, many faulty assumptions, and numerous myths surrounding transcription. In order to bring a bit of clarity, let’s debunk some common transcription myths:

All transcription services are the same

No. Clearly, this is far from the truth. In the first instance, the types of transcription services that companies provide differ drastically. Some transcription companies transcribe from tapes while others only transcribe digital files. Some also offer translation services, while others don’t. Some offer on-site transcription, while others receive their work virtually through the internet.

In the second instance, the quality systems implemented by transcription companies differ. Some apply the three-level quality control systems, where the transcriber produces the work and three other people check the work. Others invest in their transcribers to proofread and control the quality of their own product. The quality control system of a transcription company determines the quality of the transcript produced; therefore the level of quality will differ.

Transcribing is just typing

No. Transcribing is much, much more. Transcribing is not so much a keyboard skill as it is a language and listening skill. Excellent knowledge of English grammar, usage thereof, punctuation, spelling, and the subtle nuances of the language are the most important skills, followed closely by the ability to decipher accents and hear carefully through fuzzy or crackly sound, and the ability to quickly ‘google’ unfamiliar names or places or technical or medical terms.

Transcription services are cheap

No. High quality transcription services are not cheap, and for several good reasons. The cost of employing high calibre transcribers, uploading to a secure remote server, designing a proprietary workflow system, and taking daily precautions to ensure confidentiality enable big transcription companies to offer high quality transcripts at a high degree of confidentiality and at rapid turnaround, the three top requirements for prestigious clients. Smaller companies certainly do offer cheap transcription services, but at the risk of both confidentiality and accuracy.

Quality is not important

No. Not true. A transcript only fulfills its purpose if its quality is superbly high. A transcript is the exact hard copy of a recording. If it is not the exact duplicate of the recording, then it is essentially rendered useless. Quality refers to recording the audio exactly into text, in a reader friendly format, while adhering to the speakers’ intentions.

Transcribing is easy and anyone can do it

No. Transcribing is not a job for everyone. In fact, transcription is very often difficult and stressful, requiring a great deal more than a simple typing exercise. It’s a skill that can only be learned through practice, practice, and some more practice. It’s tough on the ears, tough on the brain, and requires strict time management, meticulous attention to detail, and hours of concentration.

It’s cheaper if I do it myself

No. Transcribing a recording yourself is only cheaper when you have lots of time to transcribe and don’t mind if quality is compromised. What people don’t realize is that it takes a professional transcriber 4 hours to transcribe 1 hour of audio. For a non-professional, transcribing will take even longer. And as the familiar saying goes: “Time is money”. It will cost less to employ a transcription company than to lose the income a company could have generated instead of transcribing their own recordings.

Voice recognition software transcribes just as well as a human

No. Voice recognition software only records the words it hears. If a word is pronounced incorrectly, if the speaker has a heavy accent, or if the word is a homophone, then the software will not be able to transcribe it correctly. Software cannot ‘google’ to find the correct spelling of places, organisations or people, thus software can only provide a transcript of what it thinks it heard.

Transcription is specialised

No. Transcription is required in all industries. It is not just medical and legal firms that require transcription, but any business that records a discussion or interview or meeting and wants a record of this. Universities conducting academic research. Journalists needing to refer to interviews to write their pieces. Production companies needing to edit script. Graduate students conducting interviews for their dissertations. Market research companies investigating people and society through interviews and focus groups. Television shows and podcasts making hard copies of the script available after the airing. Conferences wanting to make the contents of discussions and debates available to both participants and attendees. Clearly, transcription is required globally and in a multitude of industries.

Transcription is not cheap and it is certainly not easy. It’s not as simple as typing. And it’s definitely not something that everyone can do. Getting a transcript completely right is a tough professional job, which is why Way With Words Transcription sets its highest goal as the delivery of top quality English language transcripts to the global market.

 

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3 thoughts on “Transcription Myths Exposed”

  1. What caught my eye in this article (interesting enough to read through!) is the point about how poorly transcription companies (companies not stay at homers!) have been at getting transcription better recognized in services that are not medical or legal. I have 30 years in corporate affairs and marketing and I can agree that oddly, like staffing, many corporates are fixed about the bottomline. Now they should see, bottomline should not be numbers fixated but service quality through better people management. Make sense – I hope.

  2. Forget mistakes and always move on. Hearing and understanding what is said as audio and noting context are challenges everyone will make a mistake with. Thank God for proofreaders! 🙂

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