Transcriber-asides for Unheard Portions of Audio Files

Focusing on Transcriber-asides in Transcription

A moderator cannot control every utterance, noise, or interruption that may, and most likely will, occur during a focus group or interview. Our job transcribers is to capture all data from the audio recording so that the person reading it can make sense of the information within the document. It’s important that they understand when an interruption occurred during the session, so that what they are reading makes sense to them.

Transcriber-asides were created as a way for professional transcribers to get these “interruption” messages across to the reader of the transcript. It’s a way of saying, “Hey, at this specific moment an interruption occurred and I, the transcriber, was unable to capture respondent’s comment.”

Below are some examples of transcriber-asides: 

unintelligible — This is used if, no matter how many times the audio is replayed, the respondent’s comment cannot be clearly heard or understood. Maybe the person who is speaking mumbled their answer. Maybe he/she has a very thick accent and didn’t enunciate, or spoke too quickly.

question mark — This is exactly what it looks like…a question. Perhaps the respondent mentioned a name, or a word, and though you can make out what it (sort of) sounds like, it’s still not clear, and no amount of searching online has clarified how to actually spell it or if the word was heard correctly. Therefore, you type the word as it sounds (phonetically) and then the transcriber follows the word with [?] to show the reader that the word or name is unverified.

background noise — This is any noise in the background that masks the respondent’s comments. It could be a fan in the background, the sound of a train passing, sirens, another person coughing. Either way, this noise makes it impossible to hear the respondent’s comments.

too many voices — As I mentioned earlier, once a focus group gets going, and the participants are comfortable sharing their ideas, they often get so excited that they talk over each other. Some transcription companies will use the transcriber-aside [cross-talk] and others will use [too many voices]. This is exactly what it sounds like; when two or more people are talking at once and it is impossible to separate the speakers, or to even capture what is being said. As with the transcriber-aside [unintelligible], this is used as little as possible, but there are times when its use cannot be avoided.

audio glitch — This is no fault of the respondents’, the moderator’s, or the transcriber’s. It is a technical issue with the recording and can be as simple as a one-second glitch, blanking out a word or a couple of words, or it can be a couple of minutes of audio lost. This isn’t an outside interference, and not anything such as a bad cell phone connection or coughing.

laughter — Sometimes, capturing emotion is necessary to convey the true meaning of a comment.

These transcriber-asides are solely for the benefit of the person reading the transcript, and are meant to make their job easier in pulling out the qualitative data necessary to complete market research.

Stay tuned for next month’s post about Common informational Transcriber-asides in Focus Group Transcription.

For more information on focus group transcription, or for a quote on focus group transcription services, please visit JS Martin Transcription Resources.

About Jannice Roy

Jannice Roy has over 7 years of corporate, general, legal, market research and analytics transcription experience. She’s taken courses in oral and written communication, business principals, and English, as well as fiction writing and creative writing. When she’s not transcribing, she writes novels and publishes romance under the name Niecey Roy.

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