A Comprehensive Guide to Data Transcription Methods and Techniques

If you ever heard about “data transcription”, what came to mind? Was it along the lines of converting raw data into digital format? Or you could not think of anything. Well, if you’re in the first half, you’re close but if you fall in the latter half, it’s totally fine. That’s why you are here and it’s our job to help you understand what data transcription is.

Actually, in projects or research, there are two types of data that can be used. Either your research is based on Quantitative data Qualitative data or both. When using Quantitative data, it means you’re mainly dealing with numerical but with Qualitative data, you’re dealing with words spoken by people like their opinions on a subject, written text, audio files, etc.

Why are we saying this, you might be wondering. Well, that’s because data transcription is mainly used in Qualitative data processing. In this article, data transcription will be explained in detail and its importance in most sectors worldwide.

What is Data Transcription?

What is Data Transcription

Firstly, data is unprocessed raw information, while transcription, is the conversion of speech, either audio or video, into text. When you put them together:

Data Transcription becomes the process of converting spoken or recorded information into written or digital format. The digital format can be text or spreadsheet. It can be done manually by a human transcriber or through automated speech recognition (ASR) technology.”

Back when the light of technology was dim, transcribers had to manually listen and interpret the audio or video files into written text for documentation purposes. But it goes without saying that the process was rigorous and challenging. Often, transcribers came across inaudible parts in the audio and video files, leading to less accuracy of the transcribed text.

However, with technological advancements and artificial intelligence (AI), the accuracy of data transcription rocketed. Nowadays, every business needs their information to be transcribed, whether audio, video, or written. Hence the need for data transcription services is paramount.

Why Data Transcription is Important in Qualitative Research

Why Data Transcription is Important

Qualitative research focuses on the ideas, and opinions of people rather than a definite number or percentage of a subject. This makes the collection and processing of qualitative data more difficult than quantitative data. Oftentimes, researchers use questionnaires, interviews, or social observations to gather qualitative data, further adding to why it is more difficult than quantitative data.

To further grasp the ideas of others, qualitative researchers engage in individual interviews, social gatherings, discussion groups, or observation of people(all within the consent granted by the individuals). All these data are either saved in hand-written text, video, or audio recordings.

However, before researchers can make use of the data, it has to be filtered and processed to the fullest extent. Now, here is why it is needed. 

It will help transform the data into a digital text-based format and also ensure the contents are preserved. It is a necessary first step in dealing with qualitative data.

Other reasons why it is important in qualitative research are:

  • It ensures the individual or interviewee’s message is communicated accurately.
  • It filters out unnecessary information
  • The data becomes easier to analyze
  • Similarities and differences are easily spotted in the data
  • Speeds up researcher’s workload

Finally, after the data is transcribed, it can be put into an analysis tool or turned into an article, report, etc. However it is used, data transcription is important not only in qualitative research but in other organizations around the world.

Methods of Data Transcription

Methods of Data Transcription

There are three ways to transcribe your data and we will get into them shortly. Before that, we want you to bear in mind that these methods depend on your preference and your budget.

1. Outsource Transcription

Outsourcing your data for transcription means giving it out to professionals or trusted data transcription services to accurately transcribe your data. Let’s discuss these two options.

Data Transcription Services

There are agencies that deliver accurate transcription between 97% – 100%. And when talking about these agencies, Macgence isn’t left out. We deliver top-notch data transcription services that leave our clients in awe.

Advantages of using Data Transcription Services

  • On-time delivery of your projects
  • Reliability
  • Security of your transcribed data
  • 100% assured quality and service

Although the pros of using a data transcription service are appetizing, it is quite expensive but at the end of the day, it will be worth every penny.

Freelance Services

Another way to get your data transcribed is by outsourcing it to a professional freelancer. Although it might be cheaper than using a transcription agency, it takes a longer time for you to get the results.

Also, here are some not worthy points to look out for when outsourcing your data transcription projects to a freelancer:

  • Not every freelance transcriber is knowledgeable in most topics; so when giving out your projects for transcription, be sure to leave instructions for them to follow.
  • Be careful about the information you give them. Especially when your project contains sensitive information. Most freelancers don’t have very secure IT space, so note this before handing out your projects.
  • Before outsourcing your data for transcription, be sure to finalize the price. If you pay per minute, it will be cheaper and you will get your transcribed data earlier. But the quality of it will be low. If you pay per hour, then it will be more expensive but it will increase the quality of the transcribed data to around 80%-90%. Either way, your budget will determine your choice.

2. In-house Transcription

This basically refers to you transcribing the data yourself. All the processes involved in data transcription are done by you. 

If you’ve sat down to transcribe a one-hour video, listening to every word, the way they were pronounced, and the tone at which various words or sentences were spoken, you’ll know a one-hour video feels like a decade.

However, it still has its pros. Because you’re transcribing your own qualitative data, you become immersed in it. What we mean by this is that you start piecing in the missing pieces yourself. The analysis of the data already begins (subconsciously) in your head throughout the process. Your understanding and accuracy of the data increases because you will know why the interviewee said what they said at every given point.

3. Data Transcription by Transcription Software

With the rise of artificial intelligence, transcription software is becoming a preferred choice. Their accuracy in maintaining the content of the data and ability to do so in a few minutes makes them a favorable option. Not to forget they are cheaper too.

However, it doesn’t make AI data transcription tools the ultimate. They still amount to some errors, especially when the audio file is not so audible. But within the hands of a professional transcriber, AI data transcription tools are phenomenal.

Techniques for Data Transcription

Techniques for Data Transcription

It is the process of converting data into a digital format. To achieve this, it is done by two techniques manual and Automated data transcription. Let’s dive right in.

Manual Data Transcription

Manual data transcription involves human transcribers listening to audio recordings and typing out the spoken content. This method has been the cornerstone of transcription for decades and is still widely use today. It offers several advantages:

  1. Accuracy and Contextual Understanding: Human transcribers can comprehend nuances, accents, and context, resulting in accurate transcriptions, especially for complex topics or specialized domains.
  2. Quality Control: Transcribers can proofread and edit their work to ensure high-quality transcriptions, reducing errors and inaccuracies.
  3. Adaptability: Manual transcription can handle various accents, dialects, and languages, making it suitable for diverse content.

However, manual transcription also has its limitations:

  1. Time-Consuming: Manual transcription is labor-intensive and time-consuming, especially for lengthy recordings. Turnaround time might not be suitable for real-time or urgent needs.
  2. Costly: Hiring skilled transcribers can be expensive, particularly for organizations with large transcription requirements.
  3. Scalability: Manual transcription might not be feasible for projects with large volumes of data due to limitations in speed and resources.

Automated Data Transcription

With the advancements in machine learning and artificial intelligence, automated data transcription has gained prominence. Automated transcription tools use automated speech recognition technology(ASR) to convert spoken words into digital text. 

  1. Speed and Efficiency: Automated transcription tools can process large volumes of data in a fraction of the time it would take a human transcriber.
  2. Cost-Effective: Automated transcription is generally more cost-effective than manual transcription, making it suitable for projects with tight budgets.
  3. Real-Time Transcription: Some tools offer real-time transcription capabilities, making them ideal for live events, webinars, and instant content creation.

However, automated transcription also comes with its challenges:

  1. Accuracy Variability: Automated transcription might struggle with accents, background noise, and technical jargon, leading to inaccuracies.
  2. Contextual Understanding: This software can miss contextual nuances, resulting in errors that human transcribers would catch.
  3. Editing and Proofreading: They often require manual editing and proofreading to correct errors and ensure accuracy.

Choosing the Right Approach

The choice between manual and automated data transcription depends on the specific needs of your project:

  1. Manual Transcription: Opt for manual transcription when accuracy, context, and nuanced understanding are crucial. This is suitable for content that requires a human touch, such as legal proceedings, medical reports, and academic research.
  2. Automated Transcription: Choose automated transcription for high-volume projects with less emphasis on context, such as transcribing internal meetings, webinars, or podcasts. It’s also useful for quickly generating draft transcriptions that can be edited later.

Importance of Data Transcription

Importance of Data Transcription

It will always be in high demand as every business needs its data transcribed. Practically, even researchers need AI transcription services because of how data is ever-changing. Below are some of the importance of AI data transcription:

  1. Enhancing Efficiency and Accessibility

In various industries, accurate data transcription acts as a catalyst, enhancing efficiency and accessibility. With AI data transcription, large amounts of data can be converted into digital format, making the process easier and faster.

Moreover, accurate data transcription ensures accessibility for individuals with visual

impairments or hearing disabilities. By converting audio or visual content into digital format,

information is easily accessible to diverse audiences.

  1. Empowering Decision-Making and Analysis

Accurate data transcription is a foundation for effective decision-making and data analysis

across multiple sectors. For example, accurately transcribing medical audio, video, and written

information in healthcare can help doctors and medical researchers make informed decisions

about patients or their findings.

  1. Time-Saving

With technology advancing, and AI taking over the airwaves, this software has received a major upgrade. They can accurately transcribe volumes of data in minutes. Saving a lot of time and speeding up the research process.

Types of Data Transcription

Types of Data Transcription

Data transcriptions are of two main types; Verbatim and edited. Whichever you choose will depend on the contents of your data and what you aim to achieve with it.

Verbatim Data Transcription

This involves transcribing everything that was said in the data, word for word. Verbatim data transcription aims to capture how something was said in the audio or video file. This includes all pauses, tones, stutters, and other elements in the file. 

Verbatim data transcription is very important in qualitative research, as every detail will be taken into account while transcribing. Additionally, other areas of importance will be for legal purposes, and in psychology research. 

Edited(Clear) Transcription

Edited transcription, involves omitting various elements in the file to create an easy-to-read, coherent result. Actually, during this process, the transcriber tries to edit the data to be free of grammatical errors, pauses, half sentences, and other elements. Edited transcription is the opposite of Verbatim transcription.

So when do you choose to use edited transcription? Well, we can nudge you in the right direction with these examples

  • Your own notes you want to transcribe
  • An interview for an article or documentary
  • When dealing with volumes of data for a project that doesn’t require high accuracy 
  • A meeting recording and you want to focus on the highlight of the meeting.

While we have dealt with the two main types of data transcription, let’s also highlight some other types of data transcription:

  1. Legal transcription
  2. Business transcription
  3. Podcast transcription
  4. Academic transcription
  5. Audio and Video transcription

Challenges of Data Transcription

Challenges of Data Transcription

At this point, it is safe to say that you have some understanding of what it is and how its process is time-consuming. But apart from that, there are other challenges transcribers face when transcribing. One of them is inaudible data. 

Transcribers have to pay attention to listen and grasp the whole audio and understand the contents. In the case of unclear audio parts, the transcriber may have to fill in those parts with words that still portray the meaning of the original data. 

Another issue is transcribing a different language. Even this software encounters this problem, especially when the language is not programmed in their software. One way to solve this is to have someone who knows the language help in transcribing. Also, double-check to ensure the transcribed data retains the meaning of the original file.

Differences between Data Transcription and Data Entry

Differences between Data Transcription and Data Entry

These two are often mistaken for the other but they are distinct processes. Data entry involves inputting or updating data from a physical or online source into a database. It can also be in a spreadsheet format. Additionally, data entry is concerned with database management, analysis, or reporting. 

While it involves the conversion of audio or video files into a digital text format— It mainly focuses on academic (qualitative) or research purposes. The data is sourced from interviews, discussion groups, lectures, or meetings. 


In conclusion, data transcription is important in qualitative research projects. By employing the right transcription tools, human transcribers can achieve 100% accuracy results. Additionally, we should remember that technology is here to assist and not replace human involvement.  

Get Started with Macgence 

Conclusion Data Transcription

Get started with Macgence, your ultimate destination for human-generated data transcription solutions. Our services encompass text, image, video, and audio transcription, catering to all your machine learning, AI endeavors, and research projects. With Macgence, you’re assured of scalability, allowing us to handle projects of any size, and ensuring on-time delivery. We take pride in providing superior data transcription quality, as our skilled transcribers meticulously sift through your data to produce top-notch quality. Our commitment to zero internal bias ensures fairness and neutrality in the transcribed data, enhancing your project integrity. Regardless of your industry, Macgence’s cross-industry compatibility ensures customized solutions tailored to your specific needs. Start today and experience the power of human-generated data transcription at Macgence.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)

Q1. What is transcribed data?

Transcribed data is the result obtained after a data transcription process. It is a digital text format obtained from converting audio or video files. Also, transcribed data can be done in two ways. Manual and Automated transcription.

Q2. What is qualitative data transcription?

It is the first step in qualitative research analysis and it involves converting any qualitative research data into a digital text format to accurately portray the meaning of the original data.

Q3. What are the challenges of data transcription?

Challenges in data transcription involve, background noise leading to unclear audio, transcribing different languages, lack of update in transcription software, etc. 



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