“[A] transcript is a text that ‘re’-presents an event; it is not the event itself. Following this logic, what is re-presented is data constructed by a researcher for a particular purpose, not just talk written down.” (GREEN et al. 1997, p.172)

Intelligent verbatim transcription, also known as clean transcripts, isa popular style of transcription that represents recorded speech into text while editing out the fillers and repetitions that may distract from getting at the content of the interview.

And this is because interview subjects do not speak coherently in normal speech. We repeat words, have a lot of filler expressions such as ah, um, pause to think and use words like yeah, you know as a way to express ourselves or creating emphasis.

An intelligent verbatim transcript attempts to capture what was said rather than how it was said. The main priority being content and “voice”, while leaving out repeated words and fillers.

The aim of an intelligent verbatim interview transcript has less to do with depicting accents or involuntary vocalization. It has more to do with accuracy of the substance of the research interview, considering the meanings and perceptions created and shared during a conversation. And this is why this style of transcription is so popular, because it provides a more readable transcript while staying true to the voice and intended meaning of the participants.Intelligent Verbatim Transcription

While transcribing using the intelligent verbatim style, you transcribe what was said while leaving out fillers, repeated words, nonverbal communication and ambient sounds. You should not correct grammatical errors or edit the transcript to improve content. The flavor and gist of the speech should be maintained.

Having said that, you should replace slang words with more standard versions. For instance “gonna” should be transcribed as going to, “shulda” will should have and so forth. As a transcriber you must capture the tone, pace and meaning of the original content as well.

Other general intelligent verbatim transcription rules not mentioned above are:

 

  • Long speeches should be broken up into paragraphs of between 5 and 7 lines and make sure the breaks make sense.
  • Quotation marks should be used correctly, for example: So I said, “Oh man I can’t believe that happened.” Please do not use single quotation marks unless it’s inside a double quotation mark. Example: I was like, “Oh man I can’t believe that happened and I can’t believe he said ‘no’, that was crazy.”
  • And please try to avoid starting sentences with the word “And”.

Intelligent verbatim vs Verbatim Transcription

I have already written a post that details the rules of verbatim transcription. Let me summarize the differences between intelligent verbatim transcription and verbatim transcription.

When you transcribe everything that a person and include the pauses, fillers, repeats, stutters, stammers, throat clearing, coughing, laughter, and details of interruptions that is called verbatim transcription. Due to its detailed nature, the transcript is great for research projects that aim to investigate HOW something is said as well as WHAT’s being said.

On the other hand, when you convert any recorded speech into text while leaving out any phrases or words considered redundant, such as repeated words, filler expressions (er, um) or thought pauses (yeah, you know) and editing slang words (gonna to going to), this is intelligent verbatim transcription style of transcription. The main purpose of an intelligent verbatim transcription is to provide a more readable transcript while staying true to the voice and intended meaning of the participants. The resultant transcript is great for research projects that aim to investigate WHAT’s being said and not particularly interested in how it was said.

A table summary of the 2 transcription styles

Verbatim Transcript Intelligent Verbatim
Includes: Excludes:
All ums, ahs, ehs. All ums, ahs, ehs.
All fillers such as ‘you know’, ‘know what I mean?’ All fillers such as ‘you know’, ‘know what I mean?’
All repeated words. (A maximum of 3 repeats. E.g. and, and, and…) All repeated words unless repeated for emphasis e.g. I’m so so happy.
All stutters and stammers (but only a maximum of three repeats) All stutters and stammers
All ‘non-standard language’ e.g. ain’t, ‘cause. All ‘non-standard language’ e.g. ain’t, ‘cause.
Only includes throat clearing, coughing, laughter, details of interruptions, time stamps etc. if required by client Throat clearing, coughing, details of interruptions etc.

 

To further illustrate the difference, here are a couple of transcript examples that show how a snippet should be transcribed using the verbatim and intelligent verbatim transcription guidelines.

Comparison Examples of Intelligent Verbatim and Verbatim Transcription.

Example One:

Verbatim Transcription

Q : Did you live with him at the time?

A : [Silence] No, eh,not really.I would visit and, eh, I think, um, I slept over a couple of times [sigh].So I wouldn’t really consider that living together.

Note: Everything is typed out just as it is on the recording.

Intelligent Verbatim Transcription

Q :  Did you live with him at the time?

A :  No, not really. I would visit and I slept over a couple of times. So I wouldn’t really consider that living together.

Note: Fillers, thought pauses, and all other expressions have been omitted.

 

Example Two:

Verbatim Transcription

So, anyway, you know, I ‘m planning to start the, um,project in mh, lemmie see, actually definitely on the ah, 10th of December this year. It’s a bit complicated, you see? So, eh, I plan to let all my funders know my kinda thinking so that they see I am very veryvery serious about taking off soon, you get it, right? Know what I mean?

Note: All fillers, thought pauses, slang words, repetitions and all other expressions have been transcribed exactly as heard.

Intelligent Verbatim Transcription

I’m planning to start the project on the 10thof December this year. I plan to let all my funders know that I am very serious about taking off soon.

Note: All fillers, thought pauses, repetitions and all other expressions have been omitted. Slang words have been edited (kinda becomes kind of).

If you’d like me to transcribe your interviews for you please get in touch.

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