Why Transcripts Are Important in Qualitative Academic Research

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When your research utilizes qualitative rather than quantitative methods, you will most likely be diving deeper into interviews, lectures, focus group findings, and other types of verbal data collections. They are the backbone of qualitative research, and the ways you analyze the data they contain differ from those adopted in quantitative research. 

If your research is in humanities, political science, business, education, or other fields that focus on the “why” of the “how,” you’ll probably end up with a vast number of audio and visual files that you’ll then need to wade through. If your subjects are not accustomed to being interviewed, you may find there’s a lot of “noise” to cut out before you can extract valuable information from your research materials. 

Once you organize your mass of audio and visual files to glean your data and put together your academic paper, it is important to ensure that your writing is clear, concise, consistent, and free from error—otherwise, you risk undermining your research. When you complete your first draft, have us edit and proofread your work prior to submitting it for publication. Before we polish your draft, we will look at how transcribing the audio and visual files for your qualitative research can save you a great deal of time and stress.

When you press the record button (assuming that you and your colleagues choose to record rather than take notes), you’re also committing to comprehensively analyzing the data you collect. There is plenty of software that can quite effectively help you organize numbers and graphs, but in qualitative research, transcription is a particularly good tool. Here are three reasons why.

  1. Attention to detail (clean vs. verbatim transcripts)
    The essence of qualitative research is not limited to the actual words being uttered—often, more information can be found in how those words are said and what vocal tics or nonverbal clues your subject is exhibiting. Full verbatim transcripts are extremely useful in analyses and tend to include pauses, hemming and hawing, throat clearing, and other communication signals that more fully capture a speaker’s intent. With a full verbatim transcript, you can glean important insights about your subject’s emotional state, which can impart additional meaning to their statements. 

Consider the difference between these two sample transcript excerpts: 

“Hello. My name is Buffy Bellflower, and I repair hot air balloons. I’ve been doing it since I was 22, and I’ve always loved it, even after the accident that happened with my ex-husband on board. I wasn’t the one who caused it, and I hope he’s made a full recovery.”

“Hello. I am—my name is—well, they call me Buffy Bellflower, and I repair hot air balloons. Uh, I’ve been… I guess I… well, I’ve been doing it since I was really, um, 22, and I’ve always, um, I’ve always l-loved it… even after the, uh, the a– the accident that happened with my, um, my… my ex-husband on board the—well, I wasn’t, uh, I wasn’t the one who caused it, um, and I… well, I hope, you know, that he’s made a, um, full recovery and all that.”

How much more information can you extrapolate about the person from the second example? The two transcripts don’t even sound like they feature the same speaker, even though the spoken words are basically the same. If you think your research would benefit from full attention to every detail, then a full verbatim transcript might be right for you. We can provide either verbatim or clean or anything in between, so check out our full academic transcription services.

  1. Enhanced comprehension

It’s incredibly easy to overlook essential information when you play back the audio you have recorded, especially when there are multiple people talking at once. You and your team might find yourselves constantly pausing, rewinding, and trying to jot down bits and pieces rather than focusing on the importance of your findings. 

If you’re not trained in transcription, it can be difficult and time-consuming to extract meaningful data from complex audio clips, which is why it makes sense to turn to a professional transcription agency. Professional transcripts make it more straightforward to identify each speaker, keep track of the discussion, and eventually present your findings to your department and publish your results. Professional transcriptionists can skillfully parse out what each individual speaker is saying even when their speech overlaps, helping you make the most of your data while saving you the headache of working through the audio yourself.

In case you are working with multiple people, a full text makes it easier to extract quotes to share, highlight, or annotate. With the exact same information in front of you all rather than different interpretations of audio or video, you will be able to fully extrapolate the important data. For maximum comprehension, you may even wish to order verbatim and clean transcripts—this allows you to pick up on the nuances and emotions behind a subject’s words while also having a clean version to fall back on for readability and quoting purposes. 

Transcription makes collaboration simple, especially if you or some of your colleagues were not present at a focus group meeting or an interview. If there are multiple languages involved and things are getting a bit confusing, take a look at our academic translation services—we can even transcribe foreign-language recordings into an English translation.

  1. Faster results and greater cost-effectiveness

Though it would be incredible to spend all of your precious time combing through video and audio files, the reality is that budget and deadline constraints usually don’t allow for it. It’s more important to invest your limited time in analyzing your data rather than preparing it for analysis.

That is where an accurate transcript can step in to save the day. Since reading comprehension often requires far less time than listening comprehension, you can more effectively manage your time (and the time of your graduate students, fellow researchers, and others involved in the project) while also working within your allotted budget. The more time you save, the more time you can dedicate to improving your study—whether that means a deeper analysis, a more carefully written paper, or more charts and graphics to complement your research.

Additionally, it’s far more efficient and economical to entrust the actual transcribing to experts so that your specific expertise can be reserved for the information gathering and analysis that will better benefit your research. After all, transcription is not quite as simple as the pros may make it appear, and amateurs tend to introduce a lot of mistakes while taking far longer than a professional. Get a transcription quote from us and start working with experts to ensure you end up with top-quality transcripts.

In academia, qualitative research plays an important role in providing much-needed context to information that can’t always be extracted from numbers alone. Transcripts simplify the process, helping you and your colleagues meet your research goals faster and more effectively. Looking for some other ways to polish your final product before publication? Check out our other academic services

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