There are many reasons for requiring transcription services and an almost equally large number of options within the transcription service market. If you’ve found yourself in a situation where an interview, speech, or audio clip needs to be transcribed, it’s vital to choose the right solution for your project.
While you will inevitably need to consider a whole range of elements, deciding whether proofreading is important to your transcript will help to narrow down the choice of transcription services. Let’s dive in and find the ones that are a good fit for your needs.
Fundamentally, it is very easy to mishear sections of any audio recording. Proofreading could be the difference between ‘there’ and ‘they’re’, ‘he accepts’ and ‘he excepts’, or ‘ketchup’ and ‘catch up’. Of course, that doesn’t necessarily mean that proofreading is right for everyone. Here’s all you need to know about the different solutions before making your final decision.
Proofreading and Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) Software
Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) software uses technology to ‘hear’ what is being said before transcribing it. Perhaps the easiest way to think of it is like a more advanced version of Siri. Instead of speaking one or two sentences, it’s possible to have an entire conversation transcribed in this manner.
The latest ASR software can transcribe live speech, allowing you to talk directly to the device before having the dialogue presented in text form. It is also used by automated transcription services to turn audio recordings into transcripts.
ASR is the cheapest option on the market for transcription and is often also the quickest. However, it’s important to accept that there are several noticeable limitations.
If the words spoken aren’t clear or the audio is of poor quality, even the best algorithms will struggle. The quality of the results will quickly start to degrade and eventually become unintelligible. Even when the circumstances are ideal (clear speech, high-quality audio and no background noise), it’s not uncommon for error rates to exceed 20%.
Other limitations become noticeable when more than one person is speaking on the audio, as the software will struggle to distinguish one individual from the next. If you need your transcript to hang together without significant errors and loose ends, you will need to proofread a transcript produced by an automated transcription service yourself.
Unfortunately, proofreading and editing a transcript yourself will often nullify the expected time savings. Depending on how much you value your own time, it might also discount any cost savings.
An alternative is to use a professional human transcription service or a hybrid service. A hybrid service combines ASR with human intervention to improve accuracy levels.
Pros of Automated Transcription Services:
- Quick turnarounds
- Low-cost option
- Easy access – many video hosting platforms and social media platforms have built-in transcription services
Cons of Automated Transcription Services:
- Inferior accuracy levels
- Can struggle with accents, multiple speakers and poor audio
- Additional time needed for proofreading and editing yourself
Proofreading and Human Transcription Services
If you need an accurate transcript, human or hybrid transcription services are the best option. These services often include proofreading within the service as standard and provide accuracy level guarantees. Even with poor audio quality, there will be fewer gaps in the transcript, and the overall end product can be used straight away.
Pros of Human Transcription Services:
- Can detect words in less-than-perfect conditions
- Fewer errors in meaning or content
- Can accurately identify multiple speakers on a recording
- Less work is required on your end
- Great versatility and customization options
Cons of Human Transcription Services:
- Higher cost solution
- Requires longer turnaround times
The proofreading and review process can also be used to alter the presentation of your transcript to deliver greater value. A full verbatim transcript includes every word uttered but you may find a different level of detail is more appropriate for your needs.
- Verbatim transcripts will deliver a transcript with repetitive words along with stutters, ‘erms’ and ‘errs’ removed. This leaves you with a transcript that makes more sense and is easier to read. You can also request for these elements to be kept in if they provide useful context.
- Intelligent verbatim is an ideal solution for interviews and other Market Research projects. The interview or moderator input is summarized but the participant responses are retained in full. Irrelevant small talk and pleasantries are removed. This is a great way to ensure you get all the important information in a format that’s easy to read and review.
- Proofreading can also deliver grammatical corrections within a transcript. For example, ‘should of’ can become ‘should have’ to ensure that the written transcript reaches an even greater level of professionalism than the original sound recording.
A professional proofreading service enables you to gain a better transcript. Most human transcription services provide a standard proofreading service within their rates. Some services also offer an advanced ‘expert’ proofreading service that will guarantee the best results.
When Proofreading is Important to Human Transcription Services
Proofreading isn’t needed for every transcription. Nonetheless, sometimes proofreading and advanced proofreading are beneficial or even necessary. For example, if the recording deals with topics that use a lot of technical jargon, you will want to choose a human or hybrid transcription service that includes proofreading. Otherwise, the piece could lose its meaning.
Proofreading is also important when you need help with the flow or the grammatical attributes of your content. In truth, having another person deal with proofing your content is a great way to remove inaccuracies in general.
When opting for a transcription and a proofreading service, you should pay attention to some of the finer distinctions between transcription services, as this can impact the quality of the final output. Not all services are the same, and price differences can indicate if you’re likely to need to engage in proofreading yourself.
- A service that is under £0.50 per minute is likely to use ASR
- A service under £0.75 per minute is likely to use no or little proofreading
- Services that boast experienced and technically literate transcribers can improve the accuracy and quality of the final transcript
The Final Word: If You Need an Error-Free Transcript, Proofreading is Critical
The importance of accuracy comes down to how you intend to use your transcript and why you are seeking out a transcription service in the first place. Poor accuracy transcripts can require time-consuming editing.
Only human transcription or hybrid services can consistently provide clean, accurate transcripts across a range of audio. ASR is a helpful tool but often can’t deliver the levels of accuracy required without intervention, particularly in a professional setting.
Most human and hybrid transcription services deliver proofreading as part of their service. But, if you need an ‘error-free’ transcript, look for services that offer advanced proofreading options.
If accuracy levels and the quality control processes offered by a service aren’t obvious, it’s a red flag. Always check what’s included in the price to avoid any ‘surprise’ charges. Look for the ability to contact a transcription service for further information.
For highly-accurate secure transcripts with guaranteed turnaround times, get a quote today.