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Why Hire A Virtual Assistant?

A Virtual Assistant (VA) is a highly skilled professional who can perform a wide range of administrative and business support roles to take the pressure off your business.  At a time when internet access and download speeds are at their greatest, Virtual Assistants operate in a virtual forum and can carry out all traditional support functions saving your business time and money.  Client communication is usually conducted over the telephone or by fax or email.  Documents and data are delivered through secure File Transfer Protocol (FTP), via the internet or through traditional means.  Virtual Assistants can multi task and are highly adaptable to suit your business needs.  So why hire one?   A Virtual Assistant is just a mouse click away!

Unlimited global market.  Virtual Assistants fulfil secretarial and transcription roles online and can do so from any remote location.  There is no need to have a Virtual Assistant physically in your office, crucially freeing up business space for you in your office.  Businesses can hire Virtual Assistants from a wide range of locations and countries.  This gives you a tremendous choice of skilled personnel and huge cost savings and advantages.

Frees up your time.  Virtual Assistants are highly trained, highly productive personnel who are used to large volumes of output and offer quick turnaround times.  They are ideally suited to pressures of deadlines and operate at a time when your business requires it, with a view to freeing up your time to increase your productivity.

Cost effective.  Virtual Assistants offer an independent service to your business as and when necessary.  They are not employees, you only pay for what you want, when you need it.  This is a highly cost effective option for your business, reducing the need to employ staff or pay full time wages or taxes.

Reduce your overheads.  Virtual Assistants work from home or from their own office.   Virtual Assistants do not take up office space and your business can enjoy cost savings and reductions in electricity and utility bills employees accrue.  You do not need to purchase additional equipment for their use, Virtual Assistants operate from fully equipped offices, using the most up to date technology.  No need to incur additional postage or courier costs to outsource your work to them – telephone, fax and internet based technology provides an immediate solution.

Minimise employee obligations.  A Virtual Assistant is an independent contractor, they are not engaged in a contract of employment.  A Virtual Assistant is not a company employee, there are no ancillary employee taxes or benefits to be paid, providing a cost saving to your business.  As Virtual Assistants are self-employed business owners they are responsible for their own taxation liabilities.

Critical cover.  By engaging a Virtual Assistant, your business has the ability to outsource important work during peak periods or to meet pressurised deadlines when the need arises.  Crucially a Virtual Assistant can be engaged to provide effective support and cover for staff absenteeism.  A Virtual Assistant is a reliable and viable alternative to using recruitment agencies for temporary in-house staff.

Customised business service.  A Virtual Assistant can fulfil the role your business requires whether it is a short time or long continuous period of engagement, either on a regular or ad hoc basis.  This degree of flexibility is essential in an ever changing business world.  So whether it is once-off digital transcription or ongoing administrative tasks, a Virtual Assistant is the most efficient solution for your business. 

Diversity of Talent.  Virtual Assistants come from a panoply of disciplines across the professional, business, academic, technical and support sectors.  Your business can choose a Virtual Assistant according to the skill set that the task requires, whether it is highly specialised or generic.  Virtual Assistants are creative thinkers and excellent problem solvers.

Outsourcing equals productive output.  A dedicated Virtual Assistant is 100 per cent committed to your business project.  They are self employed personnel and so are aware of the exigencies of performing tasks to deadlines.  Engaging the service of a Virtual Assistant ensures that each hour of labour provided is of optimum productivity and effort.

Efficient use of time.  Effective use of time management means your business can be served by a Virtual Assistant operating in a different time zone to meet your business needs.  As your business day ends, a Virtual Assistant’s day can begin and this flexible time solution results in greater business efficiency and turnaround.

These are just some of the key reasons to engage a Virtual Assistant.  The role of the Virtual Assistant is ever changing and ever expanding and is and will continue to play an important function in the emergence of a modern online business world.

Go Digital – Dictation and Transcription made Easy!

It can be said with certainty that dictation and transcription as we know it has been transformed in the last decade.  We find ourselves permanently in “contact me” mode via cell phone or email.  Access to the internet is ever easier and soft VoIP’s (voice over internet protocol) like Skype have narrowed geographic boundaries.  Now with greater work pressures, digital dictation means you can generate work in any location to be transcribed remotely.  So what’s all the hype about going digital and what exactly are the benefits over analogue dictation? 

1.      Immediate file delivery.  Sending digital recordings via the internet means no delay between dictation and transcription turnaround, saving your business time and money.  Files can even be emailed from your mobile phone!

2.      Clarity.  Digital technology allows you to control the speed of dictation without causing pitch distortion, making dictation easier to understand.  This improved clarity ultimately aides transcription accuracy.

3.      Sound Quality.   Digital sound is superior to that of analogue recordings.  Digital technology eliminates background noise making it easier to understand and thus reducing the likelihood of error.

4.      Faster turnaround.  Because error reduction is achieved through enhanced sound quality and clarity, Transcription Specialists can work faster.  A quicker turnaround time is a cost saving for your business.  At the same time, Transcription Specialists increase their earning potential as they can deliver higher volumes of work to many clients as a result.

5.      Easy editing.  Need to insert additional comments?  No problem!  You can add to, edit or delete voice recordings with ease without overwriting previous recordings.  You can even insert a piece of text or a digital image from another location to your digital file.

6.      Bookmark.   Transcription Specialists can skip to any section within a file to find a particular piece of dictation, so no need to fast forward through an entire cassette tape to find something specific.  You just place a marker on the digital file for ease of reference. 

7.      Easy transfer of work. Whether you are in the office or working offsite, you can plug the recorder into a PC and download your recording.

8.      Superior recording quality.  Digital recordings do not deteriorate over time.  The quality is retained and the original can be copied with no adverse affect on quality.

9.      No limitations.  A traditional cassette is usually only 20 or 30 minutes each side, digital recordings are as long as you need without the need to change sides!  There are no length restrictions.  No cassettes required!  Just press record and go!

10.  Dictate and go!  No need to wait to fill up a tape before sending it on for transcribing.  Dictate as you need to and send on immediately.  Just re-record your next piece of work as a new digital file.

11.  Length of recording.  A digital file states the how many minutes and seconds a voice recording is once the file is opened, so no more confusion about the length of a recording.

12.  Important information at a glance.  File headers can incorporate important information like the name of the person dictating, work priority, case name (for legal transcription), patient name or chart number (for medical transcription), date, etc.

13.  Space saving:  voice recordings are digital files stored on a PC, no valuable office space is required for storage.

14.  Portable:   Handheld digital solutions allow you to dictate anywhere, just stop and start whenever suits until you’re done!

15.  Productive workflow.  Digital transcription increases output efficiency and streamlines the process from dictation through to the finished transcript.

16.  Reduced risk of loss, damage or deletion.  When you download your recording to a PC files are less likely to be lost, damaged or erased in the way traditional cassette tapes can be.

17.  Original dictation untouched.  Your original recording is stored on your PC, not erased like cassette recordings.  Invaluable if you need to revisit a piece of work!  Files can be backed up on CD or stored on a network for added protection.

18.  Retrieving the dictation.  No searching for the cassettes to retrieve dictation, use the ‘Find File’ facility on your PC for instant retrieval.

Still not convinced?  The initial expense to reinvest in digital technology is outweighed by the obvious gains in productivity.  Digital technology streamlines the entire process of dictation and transcription.  What does that mean for you?  Going digital means your business is time efficient, cost effective and is guaranteed a highly accurate end product.




10 MUST-HAVE skills for digital audio transcriptionists

1.  Listening:  A transcriptionist must have a keen ear to decipher what is being said.  They transcribe single speaker dictation through to multiple participant recordings. They transcribe heavy accents and take account of people who speak slowly and others who speak very fast indeed!

2.  Problem solving: There are daily challenges to face if you pursue a career in transcription.  You will need to differentiate between multiple speakers, decipher mumbled or garbled speech and deal with a multitude of environmental noises!  A professional transcriptionist will always use tricks of the trade to get through particularly tricky audio.   Sometimes it might just take a few moments to decipher one or two words and other times it will require some research to get it right! 

3.  Quality control:   Yet another skill you need under your belt.  A good transcriptionist will ensure consistency throughout the finished transcript and has great attention to detail.  They will be on guard at all times to pick up on any client errors during dictation such as the use of different dates or names in the middle of dictation than was used at the start or at the end.

4.  English language:  A professional transcriptionist will have an excellent command of the English language including first class grammatical skills, punctuation and spelling.  This includes the use of homophones which are words that are pronounced the same that differ in meaning so, for example, carat and carrot. And they will also know not to confuse words like effect and affect, their and there, principle and principal.

5.  Time management:  You must be able to juggle projects that run simultaneously and have the personality to remain calm under pressure as fast turnaround times and sometimes hourly deadlines are the name of this game! 

6.  Speed & accuracy:  An obvious skill to have is touch typing and whilst it is really important to be a fast typist, this is skill is rendered useless unless you are accurate as well.

7.  Industry knowledge:  Most transcriptionists have a particular niche like medical transcription or legal transcription or they learn the necessary skills to move into new areas with which they are unfamiliar.  This requires sector-specific knowledge and experience in each sector’s terminology.

8.  Non-disclosure/Discretion:  a high level of confidentiality and discretion is crucial to ensure the safe keeping and safe disposal of sensitive data which clients disclose to you as a transcriptionist.  All transcriptionists worth their salt will be happy to sign a client’s confidentiality agreement or they will provide the client with a copy of their own.

9.  Internet and PC skills:  all round computer skills are required by a professional transcriptionist as they will communicate with clients via email, research material via the internet, use a variety of software packages to type their documents and send transcripts via File Transfer Protocol (FTP).

10. Specialised software and equipment:  An experienced transcriptionist will use many different transcription software packages to read the variety of digital file formats used for transcription purposes such as .wav, .mp3. .wma and .dss files.  In addition, they will most likely use an in-USB foot pedal and professional headphones, such as BEYERDYNAMIC DT-770 PRO.  They will also use specialised software to convert files into different file formats and to rip and splice audio recordings where necessary.

It can take time, sometimes many years, to fully develop the true art of professional transcription but practice makes perfect so these skills can be acquired over time.  Statistics show over 70% of transcriptionists are home based so if you would like to work from home this career is the way to go!


Best Practice for focus group recording (Part 1:  before you start)

Coordinating a focus group can test your organisational skills !  You must ensure you gather all the relevant people together at the same date and time and then have everything synchronised on the day for it to work glitch free!  Ensure you make the most of this valuable session by following some of our top tips in advance to capture all you need from the participatory group.


·         Use professional equipment:  You have gone to great trouble coordinating all participants to attend so make sure your equipment is fit for the purpose based on the number of participants.

·         Use external mics:  Built-in mics are not suitable for recordings with multiple participants.  Use one external mic (preferably omni-directional) to every two participants.

·         Recording venue is critical:  Choose the best venue to host your focus group.  Rooms with high ceilings can create an echo and hard wood floors can drown out speakers.

·         Rehearse in advance:  Conduct a trial run in your chosen venue before the focus group.  This provides an opportunity to test all equipment and mic positions.  Play your test recording, preferably using headphones.  If all participants are easily heard your transcriptionist will not have any trouble transcribing your session.

·         Choose your moderator wisely:  Be sure to appoint an experienced moderator to facilitate the session and chair the group.  A good moderator will be efficient in controlling the discussion, directing questions appropriately.

·         Brief the participants in advance:  Before the session begins outline the purpose of conducting the focus group, hand out an agenda and explain the format it will follow.  Give people an opportunity to question the process before you start.  This will avoid unnecessary questions getting in the way of valuable participant contributions!

·         To identify or not to identify participants:  Mostly focus group participants remain anonymous.  If, however, each participant needs to be identified ask them to say their name or an assigned reference (A, B, C etc.) every time they contribute, just before they speak.  The moderator can assist with this by thanking each participant by name or reference after they speak.

·         Reduce potential interruptions:  Ask all participants to turn off their mobile phones, bleeps and pagers.  Put a notice on the venue door to say there is a focus group in progress to stop anyone entering once the session has started.

·         No refreshments in session:  Ask your catering professionals to provide refreshments before or after the discussion or during scheduled breaks that are not recorded – crockery clinking and munching of biscuits will drown out your participants!


Best Practice for focus group recording (Part 2:  during the focus group)

Okay, now your valuable and long awaited focus group is underway, what next?  Some top tips to keep things running effectively and efficiently once you get started.


·         Start the ball rolling:  People are often shy to speak up at first.  Get the moderator to start with a very short summary of the purpose of the session and perhaps start with introductions and an opening question.  The moderator should choose who will answer first and let the session take its course from there.

·         Get introductions out of the way first:   If your participants need to be identified ask each person to give a brief introduction at the beginning of the session.  Not only is this an ice-breaker but it helps the transcriptionist to familiarise themselves with the different accents etc.

·         Reign in participants where necessary:  An effective moderator will prevent participants over-speaking, getting side-lined and/or running over time by constantly reminding participants to speak louder, to repeat what they said if it is not clear, reiterating the importance of not interrupting someone else when they are speaking.  Questions can be directed appropriately to adequately control the discussion.

·         Speak rather than nod:  Remind all participants to say “yes” or “no” each time, simply nodding or shaking their heads may not be so obvious to the transcriptionist!

·         Minimise background and environmental noise:  Many things can contribute to background noise during a session.  Keep all windows closed to avoid noise from cars or air traffic overhead and ask participants not to scribble notes or shuffle papers too close to the mic!


Best Practice for focus group recording (Part 3:  after the focus group)

Your session is now recorded, congratulate yourself!  The next step is having it professionally transcribed.  Follow some of our further tips for safekeeping and to improve the accuracy of your finished transcript.


·         Save your recording, transfer to a PC and back it up:  Now you’ve got what you want, keep it safe!  Save the file immediately, upload it to your PC from the recorder and make a copy of the file on CD/DVD.

·         Decide on your desired layout:  If you are unsure how your finished transcript should look your transcription service provider can advise you.  Ask them to send you their standard layout in advance.  Decide on the font, text size, line spacing you desire and give clear instructions prior to project commencement.

·         Is identification required?:  Ensure your transcription service provider knows whether participants are to be identified or not and if this is by name or assigned reference – be specific!

·         Keywords and terminology clarification:  Provide your transcription service provider with a copy of the session agenda, questions addressed, a list of keywords and any specific terminology used in the session.  Remember to include a copy of any physical material shown or handed out to focus group participants that may be referred to in the audio.

·         Agree your deadline, but be realistic:  Be upfront about when you need the transcript finished by and agree this in advance.  Recording quality determines how long a file takes to transcribe.  If your audio is clear and quality is good it will take between 4 to 6 hours to transcribe one hour of voice recording.  Focus groups or interviews with several participants often take longer based on other factors that influence the length the process takes (identifying speakers, speed at which participants talk, accents, complex terminology, etc.).

·         Circulate the transcript:  Once you have the finished transcript back you may wish to send a copy to each participant to review what was recorded.  If any sections of speech were incoherent during the recording participants can assist the process by amending or inserting what they actually said as appropriate.


Why use a transcription service versus transcribing your own research interviews?

Having researched your topic and conducted confidential interviews you have every reason to be nervous about handing over your research material.  Transcription of research material can costly but typing it yourself is very time consuming.

So, what are the pros and cons of doing it yourself versus using a transcription service provider?

·         Time:  Transcribing one-to-one research interviews takes a very long time if you are not a fast and accurate typist and particularly if you do not have specialist transcription equipment.  It takes an experienced transcriptionist approximately 4-5 hours to transcribe a 60 minute voice recording.  I am sure you will agree your time is best spent elsewhere!

·         Experience:  Copy typing or typing course work is very different to transcribing voice to text.  Your interviewees will each have different accents and a faster/slower flow of speech.  The transcript will need to read properly and have the correct use of grammar, punctuation and spelling.  And then of course there is the accurate use of homophones which can be a tricky business in itself.  Homophones are words that sound the same but have different meanings, for example, 1) your and you’re 2)  there, their and they’re 3) hear and here 4) to, too and two.  An experienced transcriptionist has a trained, keen ear and excellent attention to detail.

·         Word Processing Skills:  To professionally format your transcript you will need a good command of Microsoft Word and to ensure the format is consistent throughout.  Your course requirements might specify a certain font or line spacing or you might need each line of the transcript numbered.  A professional service will be able to provide you with an example of a standard layout and in addition they will accommodate any particular request you might have and incorporate this throughout. 

·         Proofreading:  Sometimes a fresh eye is required when you have spent hours and hours listening to and looking at your research interviews.  A professional transcript that looks and reads well will add value you to your research.

·         Choice of transcript format:  If you transcribe your own research you will soon realise how often people use phrases such as ‘you know’ or ‘you know what I mean’ or ‘eh’ or ‘um’.  This can be not only frustrating to listen to but it can add considerable time to the process.  By outsourcing your audio to a transcription service you get to choose the format of your finished transcript without the pain of doing it yourself!  Verbatim is every word typed exactly as it is said (including these phrase e.g., ‘you know’, ‘eh’ , etc.)  Intelligent Verbatim is every word typed exactly as it is said without these phrases.  And the fully edited version corrects mispronounced words, grammar and slang plus it excludes all the ‘you know’ type phrases.

·         Confidentiality:  You will of course need to completely trust the transcription service provider who transcribes your research so do not let handing over your confidential data to a third party put you off.  A reputable provider will be able to give you a copy of their confidentiality agreement and their policy around confidential data or they will be happy to sign your confidentiality agreement if preferred. 

·         Reputation:  If you have decided to pay someone else to transcribe your research then be sure you choose the provider carefully.  The transcription service provider you choose should be 110% professional in all dealings with them and have a proven track record in the industry.  They should be willing to provide you with testimonials or referees to contact should you require same before booking your project with them.

·         The expense:  Cost is often a real concern when you are trying to work within a budget so factoring in the outlay for professional transcription is important to do from the start.  Transcribing your one-to-one interviews yourself might save money but most people find the time involved doing this is prohibitive.  Good quality audio is much quicker to transcribe and therefore a provider will charge you less for it.  An experienced service provider will be able to provide you with recording best practice guidelines to follow before you record to ensure transcription of your audio is affordable.  Staying within budget is one thing but, remember, going for the cheapest transcription quote may be counter-productive if it comes back in such a state that it needs redoing! 


Common digital file formats for transcription of voice to text

Digital recorders allow you to save voice files in different file formats.  What format that is often depends on the brand or type of recorder you purchase.  Some recorders allow you to save your files as more than one file format.  To check what format your recorder saves as simply look at the file extension of your audio file, for example, the three letters file ending after the dot in your file name (e.g., WS30091.wma).  Some recorders are ideal for single speaker dictation (e.g., DS2400) where editing and inserting comments after you have dictated is important.  Others suit one-to-one interviews or focus group recordings (e.g., DS50) where they have external mics or where omni-directional mics can be purchased as an add-on (ME-30W).

Files saved to CD

.cda (Compact Disc audio file)

We have often been sent .cda files by clients in the first instance.  .cda files are not audio files, they are the index files on your CD that point to the audio tracks on it.  In order to have the audio transcribed you will need to remove your audio from your CD.  If you are unsure how to do this follow these steps:

  • Insert the CD into your CD/DVD drive and use the ripping facility in Windows Media Player (WMP) to rip the CD or a specific track. There are usually two ways to get the tracks added to your library in WMP.  You can add them on with the CD or you can rip them to your PC as .wma or .mp3 files and add those files to your library.  It is the .wma or .mp3 version of the file that you will need to send your transcription service.  If you ripped the CD by using the rip functionality in the Rip tab in WMP then the files will already be saved on your hard drive by default you just need to locate them!
  • If you do not have Windows Media Player you can use a software such Express Rip software available at http://www.nch.com.

Uncompressed audio format

.wav (or WAVE, short for Waveform Audio Format):  .wav is a very large commonly used file format, however, this file type takes much longer than most when transferring/uploading files to a transcription service.  It does, however, produce good quality audio.

Lossless compressed audio formats

A lossless compressed file format takes longer to process than an uncompressed file format and it uses space more efficiently.  Lossless compression formats provide a compression ratio of about 2:1.

.mp3 (MPEG Layer-3): .mp3 files are a compressed file format usually associated with music files. The benefit of compressed files is in reduced transfer/upload time when sending it on for transcription.

.wma (Windows Media Audio):  .wma file format is owned by Microsoft and is associated with use of Windows Media Player.  .wma, whilst being compressed files, retain their sound quality.

.dss (Digital Speech Standard):  .dss files are an Olympus proprietary format produced by Olympus recorders.  DSS files are said to be 1/12th to 1/20th the size of conventional WAVE files with no reduction in playback quality.  This is an excellent file format producing good quality audio.

. ds2 (Digital Speech Standard Pro):  .ds2 files are also an Olympus proprietary format, as above.  This is the newer, high compression, DSS pro format used by Olympus.  Not all transcription software reads this new file format so check with your service provider.

.dvf (Digital Voice File): .dvf files are a Sony proprietary format produced by Sony recorders.  Again, this is an excellent file format producing audio with excellent clarity.

Of course all of the above file formats can be used for transcription purposes but each varies in audio quality and file size so bear this in mind when you purchase your digital recorder.


Setting Up As A Home-Based Transcriptionist – A Rookie’s Guide

In an ideal world everyone wants to work from home – no more struggling to find a work/home life balance, no long commutes to work, no more having to buy separate work clothes.  This home-based business will give you the ability to pick your working hours and the type of sector you work in.  In our 8 simple steps we guide you through what you need to do to set yourself up as a home-based transcription today to make this ideal a reality.

To work from home is increasingly popular and it is a desirable career for those who want a work/home life balance.  Technological advances make it easy to provide a full range of support services from the comfort of your home office.  One very popular home-based business is the provision of a digital transcription service.  In fact, differences in time zone can be very advantageous in this particular field.  There are endless possibilities to acquire clients from another continent as your location is not an issue.  Follow our 8 simple steps to starting your own home-based transcription service today:

1.  Internet service.  If you don’t already have a high speed broadband internet service get one right away.  You will need access to the internet at all times in order to receive large audio files and so that you can return completed transcripts.  You will also need it for things like email, fax (if it’s linked to your pc), FTP and VoIP services.

2.  Specialist equipment. To transcribe from home the essential equipment you will need are a computer, transcription software, a foot pedal and a decent head set.  Other ‘nice to haves’ include a fax service, a printer, a scanner and some analogue tape machines if you plan to offer a service for mini, micro and standard cassettes.

3.  Experience & Niche:  If you are already an experienced transcriptionist then decide on your niche area.  If not, sign up to work as a freelancer with a reputable company to gain experience in a broad range of sectors.  This allows you to get a feel for the business and to acquire the necessary skill set crucial to the profession.

4.  Market yourself:  Decide how you will get the word out to your target market and then go for it.  Do a survey, do mail-shots, send flyers, have a web presence, write a press release and run lots of promotions to make your service attractive to potential clients.

5.  Customer service: Once you get some clients give them a reason to return.  Make each one feel special by going the extra mile.  Track your deadlines carefully and always reach them on time or before schedule.  Offer them a discount on their next file or on any referral they send your way.

6.   Record keeping: At the get-go devise an organised method for tracking client projects, incoming files, work in progress, completed transcripts and invoicing.  Don’t let the paperwork build up, use a systematic approach and don’t deviate from it if it works.

7.  Hours of work:  Working from home can mean that work and play have no set boundaries if you are not careful.  It is important to decide on your working times each day and stick with that.  This puts in place a structure from the beginning to allow time for other commitments like family and recreation outside of the working day.

8.  Keep your office separate.  If possible set up your office in a room that you can close the door on at the end of your working day.  If your home office is in a regular family room in the house you will always associate it with work and therefore it is much harder to switch off or for you to check your email constantly. 


Single speaker dictation for transcription – choosing a digital recorder

Choosing the right digital recorder can be confusing at the best of times but choosing a device that specifically offers features for single speaker dictation is even more difficult.  This article is a breakdown of the critical key attributes that are ‘must-haves’ in every business person's portable digital best friend.

Apart from the desire to have a compact and lightweight digital recorder for portability there are particular features that are critical when choosing a device for single speaker dictation.  These key attributes will not only make your life easier but they will aid transcription by ensuring superior sound quality in every digital recording.  So why is this so important?   You get improved transcription accuracy every time and you keep transcription costs down.  Read our top tips below for purchasing a digital recorder for transcription of single speaker dictation.

High quality sound:   Save files in a high-compression format where possible for superior clarity and quality.  This means costs savings to you as transcription services charge less for quality audio.  Look for a digital recorder with a voice activated feature, these start to record as soon as they sense sound thus preserving memory and battery life of the digital recorder. 

File editing:  For single speaker dictation it is paramount to have the ability to insert and overwrite an existing file.  Not all digital recorders allow you to do this so check the specifications of your digital recorder carefully before you make a purchase or ask your transcription service to recommend a product.   An editing facility will also allow you to include dictated notes to your transcriptionist or to record specific transcription instructions in the dictation.

Backlit LCD:  Choosing a device with a backlit LCD for easy viewing is a good idea which means you can record in all types of lighting conditions and you can easily monitor battery life.  The backlit LCD allows you to see the recording length at a glance, thereby monitoring costs as your record, as most transcription services charge clients per minute of recorded audio.

Memory and battery life:  Check the specifications of your device before you purchase to ensure a decent memory capacity and long battery life.  The digital recorder will likely have a built-in memory and/or a removable media such as an SD card.  Choose 1GB or 2GB for maximum capacity so recording lengthy files for transcription will no longer be an issue.  Can you choose between recording modes for recording sensitivity, for example, SP, LP and QP modes?   Look for a device that allows 10-12 hours playback in all modes and 25-30 hours in SP mode.  All features that conserve memory and battery life are well worth paying a little extra for.

File management:    For ease of use choose a digital recorder that allows you to create a dictation file and/or erase files and folders at click of a button.   Your transcription service will use specialised software for transcription purposes, however,  if pick a device with software that supports Windows and Macintosh it will allow you to listen to or edit the audio on your own pc as well.

PC Interface:  Once you have recorded your dictation you will need to send it to a transcription service to have it professionally transcribed.  Look for a direct PC link feature such as a USB 2.0 High-Speed which enables high speed file transfer to your computer or when sending on for transcription


Academic transcription – research in voice to text format

Academic transcription is a voice to text service where a digital file of a voice recording is transcribed to create a transcript of the speech contained in it.  The transcript is produced in a file format such as Microsoft Word and is used for record keeping purposes and data analysis. 

Academic transcription of recordings such as single speaker dictation, lectures, seminars, roundtable/group discussions, dissertation/thesis material or one-to-one interviews conducted as part of a research project are the most common recordings transcribed.  Recordings such as these are common place in schools, colleges, ITs and universities and academic transcription is required by academic staff, researchers, teachers and students alike be it for research purposes or individual studies, for example, topical research for a Masters or PhD.  Academic transcription is also incredibly useful to those with a hearing impairment. 

Students often record lectures or seminars to aid their studies in their chosen subject or they get a digital recording of it from their peers if they are going to be absent on a given day.  Likewise lecturers may digitally record their lectures and have them transcribed to use as handouts for their students. 

Academics and students alike often conduct a series of focus groups for qualitative research purposes to ascertain opinions of and attitudes to certain topics or subjects.  Focus groups and interviews form a large proportion of academic research.  Participants in the majority of focus groups remain anonymous but occasionally it is important to identify participants within a focus group.  Each person’s valuable contribution in the focus group is transcribed so that key themes emerge from the discussions which are then used in data analysis afterwards. 

One-to-one interviews and multiple speaker interviews are key in academic research also.  These help the researcher to gain an insight into people’s perceptions and beliefs in a given area.  Transcripts of interviews, focus groups and seminars are often distributed to the participants after the recording takes places as well as being used by the researcher and their colleagues in further analysis.




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Transcription services: 

- Digital Transcription
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- Mini Tape Transcription
- Micro Cassette Transcription
- Standard Audio Tape Transcription
- Other Secretarial Services
Transcription expertise:
- Medical Transcription  
- Legal Transcription
- Academic Transcription
- Student Transcription
- Business Transcription
- Interview Transcription
- Focus Group Transcription
- Vox Pops Transcription
- Media Transcription
- Podcast/Webcast Transcription

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