Recording Guidelines eBook

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We encounter a variety of recordings in the course of our day – some are audio files, some are videos, some are recorded indoors, some outside or in large public spaces. We have interviews that are recorded as one-to-one, face-to-face conversations and also tele depths where researchers converse with respondents located in remote parts of the world. We receive recordings of large meetings where everyone talks at once and presentations and webinars with Q&A sessions. The subject matter or our transcriptions is wide-ranging, from market research to private memoirs and we also delve into the worlds of medicine and law.

Each time one of our transcribers listens to a recording, there is a sense of excitement as to where this recording might take them. No matter what the recording, we gain a little insight into the lives of others and, on many occasions, it gives us pause for thought.

There are always little challenges during a transcription – all the usual ones like checking spellings and researching on Google to find out which company or town is being referred to, not to mention adding time stamps and transcribing in full verbatim or editing out some of the fillers and repetitions for intelligent verbatim. These are part of the job, however, and we do them happily. What we struggle with are recordings where, for whatever reason, the transcriber cannot do his or her job because of the quality of the recording.

There are, of course, many different recording devices on the market and researchers do their level best to send in what they hope is an audio file that we can hear and work with. Sometimes, however, they are let down by technology if their recorder doesn’t pick up the people at the back of the room or on a tele depth where the line is so crackly that even the researcher is struggling to make out what is being said with their ear pressed up against the phone.

We place a lot of importance on looking after our team and we have a duty of care to them that means we cannot expect them to work on something that might affect their health. When we have recordings that have high-pitched sounds throughout or loud interference of some sort, we simply cannot expose our team to such an assault on their hearing.

We certainly face some challenges in the course of our work, but we still do our utmost to transcribe even the most muffled of recordings. Eventually, however, even we have to admit defeat on occasion and it is always with a heavy heart that we have to explain to a researcher that their interview or focus group cannot be transcribed.

Whilst we cannot recommend specific devices to use when you record, we did come up with a few tips that we have put together in our guide to recording – an easy-to-read e-book based on 25 years of transcription experience to peruse during a coffee break.