Factors that Determine Academic Transcription Costs

Academic Transcription Costs

In the academic transcription industry, you basically get what you pay for. You may want to save time by hiring a professional transcriber as opposed to doing it yourself (the DIY approach), but do you understand the rates as well? It is extremely necessary for you as a client to first understand your transcription requirements and then take it a notch higher and understand both transcription rates and the factors that determine those rates.

Factors that determine academic transcription costs.

  1. Audio length

 Basically, the longer your audio is, the costlier your transcription will be. Well, that would be rather obvious. As much as audio length is the main criteria that determine transcription rates, there are various sub factors that determine the route an audio may take. The first question may be, are you paying per page or per minute? Most transcription companies charge by the audio minute – there are a few exceptions that don’t.

The only time you want to pay per page is if you have a long recording that has a lot of blanks or what may be referred to as dead air, then paying per page may make more economical sense. For example if you have a 60 minute recording and 40 minutes of that is dead space, paying per minute will mean 45 minutes of no transcription that you have to pay for. Alternatively, it might be easier if you edit out the empty sections in the audio (Adobe Audition does a great job of this) and get a per minute rate.


  1. Audio quality.Academic Transcription Costs

 Invest on the best sound audio quality. The better the audio quality and clarity, the less time it takes to transcribe hence less costs. Poor audio quality audio will challenge the best transcriptionist in town. The end results will reflect on this. To achieve the best quality transcript, and of course pay less, you need to be aware of certain pointers:

  • Record audio in a quiet place.
  • Avoid background noises.
  • Invest in quality recorders.
  • Be keen on voice clarity.

Audio quality also affects editing costs, mentioned above. Editing is much easier and quicker when the audio is clear and has clarity. Costly and supplementary editing is required in instances of inaudibility.


  1. Transcription Style.

 Most transcription companies, depending on the niche they have cut out for clients (at times per industry) will provide a default style they work with a standard rate, so any adjustments to certain packages may call for increased rates. But again you, the client, needs to give instructions as per your requirements. Do you need verbatim or intelligent verbatim? There are different rates for each style adapted.


  1. Number of Speakers.


A recording with several speakers will cost more than a 1-on-1 interview or a one person recording (dictations). Speakers’ designations in the transcript will also determine the rates provided. For example you need one or two of the speakers need to be designated throughout then it will cost you more. A good example would be a focus group transcription. I have previously discussed how to transcribe a focus group. It is quite clear that it takes more effort and time, and a lot of patience to transcribe multiple speakers recordings.


  1. Turn Around Time.


Delivery deadlines determine the cost. You might want to plan ahead for transcription projects given the fact that you may end up spending twice as much on rushed projects. Limited lead times simply mean high rates. It would make no economic sense to for you to ask for a two day delivery while a seven day delivery would suffice. A rushed project may need more transcribers working on the audio as opposed to a longer project that might be designated to a single transcriber. The latter will cost less.


  1. Editing.

 Time spent on edits is considered when pricing. Proofreading difficult terms and customized formatting call for additional costs. Some formatting requests such as page line and numbers, logos, headers and footers would increase the rates while bigger font sizes, less lines and larger margins will minimize costs. You might want to consider sticking to basic formats that would still cater for your needs and requirements.


  1. Time Stamping.

 Based on your requirement, this is an additional service for an additional fee. If the audio is of poor quality, time stamps can be used for reference purposes.


  1. Accent.

 When the accent in the audio is difficult to comprehend or grasp, transcription charges are higher. If English is your second language, you pay more as your audio is considered difficult.



  1. Genre/Subject Matter.

 Some audios may call for a deeper and better understanding of the industry or subject matter. These will be charged more because of extra time spent researching. Medical and legal transcriptions are more costly than general transcriptions, basically because they demand some specialized and specific understanding of the industry.


So there you have it. Now that you have these pointers, before you commit yourself to a vendor, let me emphasis a key point. Know your requirements and weigh in the benefits and cost of each of them. It is not about looking for the cheapest option. It is about understanding that you get what you pay for. Get in touch and let’s discuss how much it will cost to transcribe your interview/focus groups.

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