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Digital Recording For Transcription of Interviews – Top Seven Tips

Anne Hickley

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  • Check with the interviewee that they do not mind being recorded for later transcription. It is wise to do this when arranging the interview as it will be a bit late to make alternative arrangements when the interview is about to start. It is polite, however, to confirm at the start of the interview that the participant is still happy to be recorded.
  • Conduct explanations about your research and give background information before switching on the recorder, to save on recording time.

    Although many digital recorders have many hours of available time, if you record this you will also need to remember to ask you transcriptionist not to transcribe it.

  • Use an external microphone on your recorder. Internal mikes are only suitable for dictation (one voice).

  • Record the interview in a quiet place. Background noise can drastically reduce the quality of the recording and increase the time taken to transcribe. The ideal environment is a quiet private room, where interviewer and interviewee can sit comfortably without feeling crowded, but not so large that the recording has an echo effect.
  • Make sure you use a recorder that has a facility for transferring files to a PC. Some, called ‘note takers’ do not have the facility. You will have to send the entire machine to your transcriptionist, which obviously has a number of disadvantages.

  • Use a file format that is compressed (see my article Digital File Types for Audio Transcription, so that sound recordings can be transferred over the internet to your transcriptionist
  • Check your recorder is recording before proceeding with the interview!

Penguin Transcription ( ), part of Penguin Office Services, offers an affordable transcription service by tailoring each quote to the exact requirements of the client. The more information the client can provide us with, and the better the quality of the recording for transcription, the more affordable the transcription service will be. Why not visit our site and fill in an enquiry form at to receive a quote for your transcription requirements.

This article is copyright, Anne Hickley, 2007.


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