Transcribing interviews is part of the research process. Unfortunately, it’s a very tiring process that can take hours, and days in some cases.
Speaking from experience, transcription is a daunting task that I’d rather leverage any available resource or tool to make it less daunting.
Problems associated with transcription range from poor audio to background noise. Simple one-hour-long audio could take 4 hours or more to successfully finish transcribing.
At various points in a teacher’s career, there will be the need to embark on a project with a qualitative research component.
These interviews will then need to be transcribed and analyzed to collate data with can be used to informed decisions on a project.
This article aims to provide insight into some available tools that can help you make every step of the process easier.
What Is Transcription
Transcription is the process of converting speech into text. It is mostly used to collate and analyze data during research involving remote and in-person discussions, focus groups, and more.
These interviews are then transcribed or typed out for analysis and easier information sorting.
Types Of Transcription
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This form of transcription records every aspect of the interview dialogue including exclamations, pauses, stutters, and any non-verbal communication.
To put it simply, it’s essentially translating everything in the audio into text.
It’s the most detailed form of transcription as it doesn’t miss any word but transfers exactly what is available in the audio into text.
This form of transcription is laborious but presents the most accurate and detailed transcript of an interview.
Courthouses and other such institutions that require detailed and precise records of activities usually leverage this form of transcription.
This form of transcription simply aims to provide a clean transcript of an audio interview. This means all non-verbal communication, stutters, pauses are omitted from this transcript.
It doesn’t change the general point of the sentence or the wording but simply omits irrelevant background communication, stutter, or continuous word repetition in a sentence structure.
Edited transcripts are easy to read and correctly conveys the intent of the speaker in the same words and structure.
This form of transcription comes with some level of flexibility as it aims to convey the intent of the speaker while omitting unnecessary fragments of audio.
The transcription, in this case, can edit and even restructure aspects of the transcript for easier readability and understanding.
Transcribers in this case can eliminate irrelevant and non-standard words, or replace them for easier readability and understanding of the message.
Tips For Interview Recording
Although transcription applications are getting smarter, accent and audio quality can affect the results of an automated transcription application.
Follow these tips to ensure that quality audio is presented for transcription.
- Ensure the recording environment is quiet
- If recording on phone put the phone on silent
- Ensure that all member phones are on silent if in a group interview
- All members should speak clearly
- If a member mentions a name (person, place), the interviewer should repeat it
- The recording device should be close enough to all participants
Tools For Transcribing Research
Although there’re hundreds of transcription tools on the market, both free and paid, I leverage a combination of the tools below for ease of use, pricing, and quality result.
Bear in mind that these tools are all free and can easily be accessed online.
Azure Speech To Text
There’re many free speech-to-text applications on the market but I found that Azure Speech To Text is one of the best on the market.
It is completely free to use and allows real-time speech to text or uploading an audio file for transcription.
From my experience with these applications, it’s provided me with the best transcription I’ve had with any interviews.
That said, the application isn’t perfect and any output requires additional editing to produce the best quality result.
Pros of Azure Speech To Text
- Free trial
- Quality results
- Neural machine translation
Cons of Azure Speech To Text
- Only WAV files
Although the application full application is a paid version, a free trial is available on their platform online.
In most cases, this free trial has been sufficient for me to complete any number of transcripts needed without the need to purchase the paid application.
Another aspect of the free trial or demo application is that users are only allowed to upload WAV files.
This means mp3, mp4, and other file formats do not work in the demo version. That said, you simply need to convert your file into WAV format.
How To Convert Audio File Into WAV online
There are numerous tools online that can help convert any form of audio file into a WAV file format.
One of my preferred platforms is cloudconvert. Simply click the “Select File” or drag and drop your file to upload.
Select your preferred output file format and then click “Convert” to begin converting your file.
Download the file once it’s done converting and upload it onto the Azure Text To Speech demo platform to begin transcribing.
The transcription begins almost immediately after you’ve selected your WAV file after clicking “Upload”.
Keep in mind that, a review is required to ensure the quality of the transcription as these systems are great but not perfect.
Once the transcription is completed, simply copy the transcribed content and paste it into a document file to begin your review or leverage the second app (oTranscribe) I use to do so.
Simply add the audio file to oTranscribe and copy the previously transcription into the text field and leverage the functionalities of the application to review your transcription.
This easy-to-use application helps make transcription work easier. Even without a foot pedal, oTranscribe makes pausing, playing, or even rewinding easier.
With the “Esc” key, users can pause, play and rewind audio for better transcription. Additionally, pausing the audio automatically rewinds the audio a second or a few.
With shortcut keys for fast forward, rewind, and most importantly insert timestamp, transcription becomes easier.
You can also add your customized shortcut keys to make the process more personalized.
The platform is free to use and doesn’t require a learning curve. To use the application, simply visit oTranscribe and start transcribing.
The application runs in your browser so you can also save any transcription simply by clicking “Ctrl + S”.
This saves your progress into your browser’s cache, making it easy to retrieve. oTranscribe can save up to 100 projects in your browser but clearing your cache will mean losing all saved transcribes.
To avoid any loss of data, simply copy your transcription into a document file for permanent save.
Pros of oTranscribe
- Free to use
- No multi-application switching necessary
- Easy to use
- Customizable shortcut keys
- Insert timestamp available
- Multiple file formats
- Automatic save to browser cache
- Import and export functionalities
Cons of oTranscribe
- Lose transcription when cache cleared
oTranscribe makes switching between an audio player and text editor unnecessary and accepts multiple file formats.
It also automatically saves your transcriptions in the browser cache making them readily accessible whenever necessary.
However, since the transcription is saved in your browser’s cache, users on different devices cannot simply log in to access this information.
Transcriptions can however be exported in various formats to be accessed both online and offline.
Transcription is not an easy job but thanks to modern technology, some of these tools can support make the job of the transcriber easy.
I use these two applications when transcribing interviews for research and the third, which is the audio converter when necessary.