When collecting qualitative data, there comes the task of transcribing the data. Transcription services have their advantages but if you would like to consider other ways of transcribing audio and video files, here are transcription tools that may make your life a little easier.

There are tools for transcribing audio files: manually, using software for transcribing where you listen to the recorded data and you type what you hear or using voice recognition software where you listen to the recording, repeat out aloud and the software can convert voice to text to save time on typing. Artificial Intelligence tools where an audio file is uploaded and translated into text are currently available. Also, where audio files have multiple speakers such as focus groups and background noise, voice-to-text software can struggle with these. So, before recording audio files, it is worth investing in good quality recording hardware and meeting rooms for reduced background noise. Whichever software tool is used, the transcripts should be doubled checked if they are to be used verbatim.

Manual Transcription Software

Manually transcribing audio files can be made easier using these tools.

NCH Express Scribe is free. This software controls playback for audio and video files where the recording can be sped up or slowed down. Changing speed can also be done with the free software VoiceWalker 2.0, which repeats short segments of a recording that overlap to making listening to the audio flow. NHC Express Scribe is compatible with foot pedals, although keyboard ‘hot keys’ can be used instead to rewind or fast forward, which is also a feature on Scrivener (£32). Pear Note for Mac  (£32) where Pear Note has a timeline to keep track of text along the recording.

Transcribe (£16 per year) is an offline tool, which has an integrated audio player and text editor and autosaves every keystroke, this tool similar to NCH Express Scribe and Scrivener has ‘hot keys’ and is compatible with foot pedals but also has the speech-to-text feature, where you would listen to the audio and repeat outloud and this will be converted into text and can be faster than typing.

oTranscribe is a free web app that has a number of features similar to the above tools such as timestamp, ‘hot keys’ and automatic saving, as it is web-based it has the benefit of being accessed from multiple sites but keeping the privacy of the document as it is saved to the computer.

Speech-to-Text Tools

Speech-to-text tools is the conversion of audio into words and usually is done manually in transcription whereby the transcriber listens to the file and repeats this into the microphone on a computer with speech-to-text software that writes out what it hears. This method can save time typing out what you are listening to. It is recommended that you store your files privately.

In a Google Chrome browser it is possible to ‘type with your voice’ where spoken words can be converted into text in Google Docs and is available in English. Transcribe‘s dictation engine is able to support European and Asian languages.

Dragon is an app (free) and desktop tool (£80-£280) that recognises speech and translates this into text. Dragon can be trained to understand your voice over a couple of weeks to make it more efficient as its accuracy increases.

Automated Transcription

Automated transcription is more suited to large-scale audio transcribing, but are still useful to be aware of because in the future as the technology develops, packages may be available for students or smaller projects.

Go Transcribe (£36-£240 per month) is an Artificial Intelligence tool that can transcribe English, French and Spanish with audio files from smart phones can be uploaded. An online editor allows you to make more changes and the text is available in a range of formats. Application Programme Interface (API) technology from VoiceBase can recognise and analyse speech, can tag keywords in an audio file and use machine-learning to produce transcriptions. For students and professionals with less than 500 hours per month of audio, there is the web based app (Pay As You Go).

Trint (Pay As You Go for £12/h or £32/£95 per month) believes it can go beyond automatic transcription, as well as producing auto-transcripts in European languages, it can produce interactive trancripts for searching that can be shared for collaboration. A word can be clicked on and heard.

For transcription and tagging themes on an audio file, Pop Up Archive (£12-240 per month) could help you. You upload an audio file, the tool tags and transcribes it and the transcript is available in a range of formats, what distinguishes this tool from the others aside from tagging is searchable sound.

IBM’s Watson looks very technical and it may be used for automated transcription, perhaps as a one-off through the Blue Mix free month’s trial account. This could be available in the future for more accessible and accurate transcription.

Happy transcribing!

About the Author Formalised Curiosity

Chloe is a freelance researcher, analyst, bid-writer and project manager. With a background in sociology and business, she blogs about research, business, technology and social sciences.

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