Verbatim Transcription v Intelligent Transcription

There are different ways to transcribe audio files. Each has pros and cons, so which is best is a matter for the client to decide, based on what they want and what they want it for.

Some factors that dictate which type best suits are; if it is for translation into another language, good clean phrases are best, such as provided by intelligent transcription. If it is for market research, every pause and hesitation signifies something to market researchers, so a verbatim transcription is required.

Verbatim transcription is capturing not just what was said, but how it was said and in what circumstances.

This is an example of a verbatim transcription:

X:   I received financial support from…uh… I can’t remember the name… some company or other…
Interviewer:   Would you like to have a break so you can look it up?
X:  Oh, er… No…uh… I just need a minute… oh, excuse me…[dog starts barking. X leaves the room to talk to dog and comes back].   Right, as I was saying…uh…I  got a lot of support when I was starting from the firm of….

In verbatim transcriptions every word on the recording is transcribed exactly as it is, including grammatical errors and hesitations. In some cases the background can reveal a lot of important information.

In the example above X could have looked up the name they could not remember while out of the room because of the dog. This might mean something important or not, but it is not up to the transcriber to decide this. If the client wants it verbatim – then that is exactly what must be done.

This method does provide slow reading progress as there is a lot of unnecessary detail to deal with and at times it might be difficult to follow a whole conversation due to interruptions.

The same conversation used about but done as an intelligent transcription can become;

X:   I got a lot of financial support when I was starting from the firm of….

The end result is the same, we know who helped, but the difference is X sounds confident about who it was in the second case, whereas they are very hesitant in the first, seeming alto to indicate they do not believe this company to be important to them.

It basically comes down to the question; is only the content important?

Or is behaviour, reactions and hesitations of the person being questioned equally as important as the words they say.

Intelligent transcription is easier to read and follow. It gives the facts clearly.  Verbatim transcription is harder to follow but it offers more than only facts, it delves behind the scenes.