Useful Tips for Effective Oral History Interview Transcription

by | Published on May 10, 2016 | Interview Transcription

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Oral history is a field of study that involves collecting, preserving and interpreting the memories and voices of communities and people. Oral history is collected through recorded interviews, either in audio or video format. These recordings are then transcribed, summarized or indexed and maintained in a library or archives. Interview transcription provided by a transcription company is a great support to researchers in this regard, providing accurate transcripts of the interview. Oral history recordings and their transcripts can be posted on the Internet to enable access to interested people and researchers worldwide.

When oral history recordings are transcribed, the focus must be on readability and on ensuring that you maintain integrity to what a person said rather than trying to create a verbatim rendering. The transcript should contain information such as the following.

Oral History Interview Transcription

  • The name and contact information of the interviewee
  • The name and contact information of the interviewer
  • The date and place of interview
  • List of acronyms used in the transcript

Some points to note when transcribing are:

  • Note each change of speaker in the transcript
  • Show pauses and inflections using appropriate punctuation in the transcript
  • Any changes in topic should be shown using separate paragraphs
  • Avoid including filler words such as “um,” “uh,” and “ah” in the transcript
  • It is best to avoid using phonetic spellings to suggest dialect. Use “going to” instead of “gonna” and “got to” instead of “gotta,” “yes” instead of “yeah” and “want to” for “wanna.”
  • Avoid transcribing false starts.
  • If there are sections that are inaudible or impossible to make out, try listening to the audio multiple times. If it is still difficult to understand, you can signify that in the text putting brackets around the word “inaudible” as in: “We used to stay on [inaudible] street in New York.”
  • Non-verbal communications such as hand movements, laughter and so on can be transcribed by italicizing the word(s) that signify such communication and including it within brackets in the transcript. For e.g. (laughing), (pointing out of the window), if it is relevant to the context.
  • Use [BREAK] to indicate any pause in the recording.
  • Profane expressions can be included or excluded taking into account the type of publication and the audience for whom it is meant. Sometimes these words may be important to the transcription because they indicate the force with which a particular thing is expressed.

Any important interview recording can be accurately transcribed with the help of reliable interview transcription services. The experience of professional transcriptionists allows them to easily comprehend and transcribe the interview with maximum attention to detail. They know the rules of transcribing oral history recordings and will provide intelligent transcription maintaining full integrity to the interviewee’s words. A legal transcription company that offers this service usually assigns a dedicated project manager to each client to ensure timely and customized transcription. Moreover, when a huge oral history project is involved, these services are invaluable to ensure timely, error-free transcripts.

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