Variations in Transcription Practice

Variations in transcription practice are inevitable. This does not mean that a certain transcription is accurate while the other is faulty. This happens since the transcriptionists are different from each other. When assessing the accuracy of any piece of transcribed work, it is important to remember that every conversation does not take place in vacuum but within the cultural and social context. In the same way, transcriptionists are inserted in their own cultural and social context hence difference in the style used to analyze the language used in the conversation. Therefore these variations do not amount to errors or inaccuracy but rather need to be valued as another way of transcribing data. Here are some sources of variations in transcripts.


Variation in transcription practice can be caused by the translation done. This comes about since the transcriptionist and the interviewee are not from the same cultural background. This is very evident when making a transcription of non-verbal cues whose meaning varies from one culture to another. In addition, the transcriber being a human being from a certain society, he or she might have unconscious stereotypes on the main issue in the data or the background of the speaker. These stereotypes leaks out in their transcription leading to variations. However, this variation can be eliminated by making use of an orthography that is not standard.

Attention to linguistic detail

Paying attention to the linguistic details is a potential cause of variation in transcription practice. This depends on the transcription method and format being used by the transcriber. This happens when the transcriptionist pays strict attention to linguistic details such as the pauses, hesitations and intonations used by the speaker during the interview. These details may change the intended meaning of words or phrase said by the speaker during the research interview. in addition, the variations becomes evident when other transcribers gives the contents of conversation during interview directly as not having any linguistic relevance in the data source.

The form of transcription

The form of transcription leads to variation in the practice. This depends on the type and purpose of research being carried out. For example, the verbatim transcription that requires the reproduction of the exact words from the audio or video recorder differs significantly with the one that does not require word for word transcription. This is because the later gives room to minimal interpretation while the verbatim does not allow interpretation. In addition, those using the traditional style differ from the ones using the non-standard orthographic style of transcription. This leads to variations in transcription practice.

Jessica Miller, Marketing Head in Transcriptionwave, General Transcription Services Company in the US.

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