Is Verbatim Enough? The Advantages & Disadvantages of Verbatim Transcription

Verbatim market research firms need from transcription services

Transcription: Choosing the Service Right For You

Did you know that not all transcripts are the same?

Researchers use a lot of transcription services. But, which services are best aligned to your unique requirements?

Not all verbatim transcripts are a full and complete ‘verbatim’ account of your recording, and that’s for good reason — different levels of detail can deliver added value to different circumstances.

Knowing your choices allows you to grab the best transcript for the job. Verbatim transcripts might not be right for your transcript needs. Here are some tips on getting the right kind of transcript for you.

What Requirements Do Market Researchers Have When it Comes to Transcription Services?

Turning speech to text provides an efficient way for you to conduct analysis on your research content. It makes the content searchable, allows for the application of text analytics software and can be easier to digest than re-listening to audio content or playing back video content.

Transcriptions are valuable across a range of research methodologies including interviews, focus groups and ethnography. They can help you to explore, organise and categorise your data, helping to reveal the all-important insights.

However, if you’ve ever tried to transcribe your own content you’ll know that it can be quite difficult and extremely time-consuming. Several factors common in qualitative research can exacerbate the situation:

  • Often content involves multiple speakers who may talk over each other
  • Background noise can be hard to control which can lead to less than ideal audio quality
  • Some research uses sector, brand or category niche language which can make it more challenging to understand without the relevant context
  • You’re often working to tight timelines as well as tight budgets which put pressure on the services available to you
  • The content is often sensitive and confidential which means you need a secure service to ensure your data is safe

Are Verbatim Transcripts the Right Choice for Market Research Content?

The most common style of transcript is known as verbatim transcript (often qualified as intelligent verbatim or clean verbatim). Here, a detailed, near word-for-word transcript is created. However, sounds and sentence structures that do not impact meaning but damage legibility are removed. For example, false starts, repetitions, interruptions, ‘ums’ and ‘errs’.

This delivers a transcript that is as clean as possible while still remaining true to the original audio file. You’ll receive a transcription that contains almost everything that has been said, but anything that doesn’t add to the context of the spoken words will be removed for the sake of legibility. If you’re simply asking for a transcript then verbatim is often what you’ll get. This is a safe choice that is useful for most cases. It delivers accuracy, but not to the point that every nuance of someone’s speech is recorded.

You can also customise these types of services by requesting things like timestamps, speaker identification or having someone proofread it thoroughly to ensure there are no mistakes or misinterpreted phrases in the transcription.

‘Full-verbatim’ transcripts are also usually available which include every utterance. This can be required for legal purposes but is often overkill for other use cases. This is the type of transcription a machine will return if you use an Automated Speech Recognition service (ASR).

The reality is that for most people, a full-verbatim transcription service will provide too much detail, making a transcript seem overwhelming. When looking at ‘verbatim’ transcripts, it is important to distinguish between the two kinds and make sure you invest in the one that best fits your budget and transcription needs. 

When Less is More: Detailed Notes Transcripts

Detailed Notes transcripts take the editing of verbatim transcripts one step further. Interview questions are summarised and off-topic chit-chat is removed. In some cases, answers are even paraphrased — although this will depend on the brief you give the transcription service. 

Detailed Notes transcripts can deliver better value at a lower starting price point and a faster turnaround. You get a shorter transcript that is easy to review and to the point, particularly when paired with timestamps

There is a danger that the wrong things end up being removed. To make Detailed Notes transcripts work, it is advisable to use a quality transcription services that specialise in Market Research and have transcribers with industry experience. 

Some services will also provide an additional highlighting service so that you can easily jump to the most important passages of text, helping to speed up the analysis phase and giving you more time back to work on the interpretation.

Lastly, if you find a transcription service that delivers great Detailed Notes transcripts, forge a partnership and see if they will cut your costs even more with bespoke bulk pricing models.  

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Figure Out What Level Of Detail You Need

Seeing spoken words written down can help you make sense of what was said, and allow you to pinpoint exactly what information you need. But, the level of detail can be subjective. For example, for a focus group recording, you may not need the initial pleasantries and housekeeping announcements detailed. In an interview, you may not want your full questions transcribed as it will make it more difficult to scan the transcript. In these cases, Detailed Notes would be ideal.

Understanding what value you can gain from each kind of transcript will help you ensure that you get the right one for your Market Research project. 

Whether it’s verbatim or Detailed Notes, transcripts will save you time while delivering value. Make sure you know exactly what you need and what you’ll receive before buying.

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You’ve been reading about how Market Research firms can pick the level of transcription detail that is right for them, going beyond standard verbatim to get the best deal. If you have more questions about ASR, basic transcription service rates or how long it takes to get a transcript, check out our transcription blog.


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Take Note

Take Note is a UK-based transcription service with world-class customer support alongside the highest standards of security and ethics. We deliver a comprehensive range of transcription services including Audio and Video Transcription, Video Captions and On-Site Note Taking.