Transcription Services for Qualitative Research

An image of a professional transcriptionist transcribing qualitative research data, illustrating the human aspect of the service

What are Transcription Services?

Transcription services refer to the process of converting audio or video recordings into written or typed text documents. Transcription services are helpful for business research, academic research, and market research. With transcription services, it is possible to transcribe both audio recordings and make video transcriptions.

Transcription services are done either manually or automatically. Manual transcription involves a human transcriber listening to the audio or video recording and typing out the spoken words into a document.

On the other hand, automatic transcription services use speech recognition software to automatically transcribe audio or video recordings into text. While this method is faster and more cost-effective, it may not be as accurate as manual transcription, especially for recordings with poor audio quality, multiple speakers, or non-native accents with flawed dictation.

Which Transcription Services to Use for Qualitative Research?

Here are some qualitative research transcription services:

  • Professional Transcription Services: These services provide high-quality transcripts of recorded interviews, focus groups, or any other qualitative data. They typically charge by the hour or by the minute of audio or video recording. Some popular professional transcription services include Rev, GoTranscript, and TranscribeMe, which are widely preferred by podcasters or academic transcription services and research projects.
  • Freelance Transcriptionists: Freelance transcriptionists are found on websites such as Upwork or Fiverr. Trained transcriptionists listen to your recording, often several times, and convert it into written text through either verbatim or intelligent transcription.  They offer affordable transcription services, but the quality varies in human transcription, so it’s important to review their past work and references before hiring them.
  • Automatic Transcription Services: These services use software to transcribe audio or video recordings into text. Examples include and Temi and it is possible to use whichever file format you wish. However, the accuracy of automatic transcription services is not always reliable, especially when it comes to transcribing interviews with multiple speakers or non-native English speakers.
qualitative research

What are Automatic Transcription Services?

Automatic transcription services are software applications that use speech recognition technology to transcribe audio files or video files into text. These services use data analysis and machine learning algorithms to recognize and convert spoken words into written text automatically, without the need for human intervention.

Automatic transcription services are helpful when a large volume of audio or video recordings needs to be transcribed quickly and cost-effectively. They are also useful for simple transcribing recordings with clear audio quality and only one speaker.

However, automatic transcription services have limitations, especially when it comes to accuracy. They struggle to accurately transcribe recordings with background noise, multiple speakers, non-native accents, or technical terminology. The choice of automatic transcription service will depend on the specific needs of the project, such as accuracy requirements, language support, and pricing options.

How to Choose the Right Qualitative Research Transcription Services?

Choosing the right qualitative research transcription services is a critical part of your transcription process. To get an accurate transcription, pay attention to these features:

  • Accuracy
  • Turnaround time
  • Quality


Human transcriptions are 99%+ accurate, whereas automatic transcriptions are usually 80-95% accurate. 

However, while human transcriptions are more accurate, that does not necessarily mean that they are better than automated transcriptions – the best qualitative research transcription services are those that serve your specific needs.

Manual transcriptions are more suitable if you need high-quality and highly accurate data sets. These detailed data transcriptions are suitable for qualitative research, medical transcriptionist, recording legal proceedings, and transcribing recordings with background noise. 

Turnaround Time

Automated qualitative research data transcription has a 1:1 turnaround time. In other words, it takes automated transcription tools approximately 1 hour to convert 1 hour of audio.


Quality and accuracy of transcription services go hand in hand, especially when hiring a transcriptionist. The transcriptionist should possess at least native-level English. If you’re hiring a vendor, it should preferably be an established transcription service provider who has been in the business for years. 

How to Transcribe Research Interviews?

Interview transcription is a time-consuming process, but it is important to ensure that accurate and detailed records are kept of the interviews for future analysis. Here are some steps to follow when transcribing research interviews:

  • Choose a reliable transcription software or program that fits your needs and budget. There are various options available, both free and paid, with different features and levels of accuracy.
  • Before starting the transcription process, listen to the audio recording of the interview to familiarize yourself with the speaker’s voice, accents, and any other potential challenges that affect the transcription.
  • Begin transcribing the interview verbatim, using a word processor or transcription software. Type out everything that is said, including fillers, pauses, and nonverbal cues.
  • Use timestamps to mark the beginning and end of each segment of speech or change in topic. This will help with later analysis and referencing.
  • Finally, save the transcription in a secure location and consider using a backup system to prevent any loss of data.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Verbatim Transcription?

Verbatim transcription is a type of transcription where the transcriber writes down every single word that is spoken in an audio or video recording, including all filler words, false starts, repetitions, and other nonverbal sounds.

What is NDA?

Any company or freelancer that provides qualitative research transcription services must sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA). The confidentiality agreement will ensure that all parties involved will be able to share sensitive information without it falling into the hands of the competitors.

What is Qualitative Research?

Qualitative research is a research method that seeks to explore and understand the meanings, experiences, and perspectives of individuals or groups. It is an exploratory approach that focuses on the richness, depth, and complexity of human experience.
Qualitative research often involves collecting and analyzing non-numerical data, such as interviews, focus groups, observation notes, and documents. These data sources provide researchers with a detailed and nuanced understanding of the research topic or phenomenon under investigation.
Qualitative research methods are flexible and adaptable, allowing researchers to modify their research questions and methods during the research process. It also allows for a more participatory approach, where the voices and perspectives of participants are included in the research process and outcomes.

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