Trustworthy and impactful qualitative research requires not only a robust data collection process that facilitates data saturation, but also highly accurate transcription of data prior to completing your qualitative analysis. In fact, many qualitative methods experts recommend verbatim transcription of interviews and focus groups as an essential step in supporting the trustworthiness of your qualitative findings.

Although recording and transcription technologies are improving, they are prone to errors that can adversely impact the accuracy of your qualitative data, thereby degrading the quality of your findings. The most common types of errors result from talk-to-text software misidentifying words due to unclear or muffled speech, differences in enunciation, background noise, homophones, or multiple persons speaking at once.

Inadequacies of transcription technologies

The inadequacies of transcription software become clear when your transcript emerges peppered with words or phrases that do not clearly align with your research topic or, in the worst of cases, are completely nonsensical. Verifying the accuracy of your transcripts with participants, or member checking, is another process that is supportive of trustworthiness; however, any errors that your participants identify in the transcripts will ultimately require you to return to numerous scattered points throughout the audio recordings to determine what they actually expressed in those segments of your interviews.

Given this current state of transcription technologies, only the human ear can reliably interpret spoken communication in its multifold forms (e.g., figures of speech, slang, mispronounced words, sighs, laughter). Manual transcription therefore remains the gold standard but is enormously time-consuming, requiring approximately 4 hours of transcription time for each hour of audio. This means that for the typical qualitative phenomenological dataset comprised of 12, 60-minute interviews, transcription can take up to 48 hours of your time, and in many instances even more.

Any novices who have tried their hands at transcription also know that the average of 4 hours of transcription time for each hour of audio can be steeply increased by certain factors. For example, if you completed interviews in locations with background noise, if your recording devices were not placed optimally, or if your participants spoke quickly or unclearly, you might find yourself replaying segments of speech repeatedly in an effort to determine what was said. Also, if you are working on transcription while balancing other demands on your time (e.g., parenting), the intermittent distractions can increase the total amount of time in transcription quite dramatically.

Professional transcription services

At Data Analysis Consultants Zimbabwe, we are pleased to offer high-quality manual transcription services to our clients with a fast turnaround that works for any timeline (typically 1-2 days to transcribe, even for the largest of qualitative datasets). Our transcription team consists of professional transcriptionists only, who capture every nuance of your interviews in minutely detailed transcripts. This includes structured, semi-structured, and unstructured interviews and focus groups, and it also includes any observations, meetings, journals, or open-ended questionnaires that you might be using as data sources.

Because we have a great appreciation for the painstaking effort our clients have invested in their qualitative studies and data collection, we never use talk-to-text programs that can result in errors that distort the essential meanings communicated by study participants. Our team of certified transcriptionists and court stenographers are trained to transcribe and review their work to ensure the highest degree of accuracy coupled with the shortest possible time frame for delivery.


Our certified transcriptionists are able to work with qualitative data shared in a variety of formats, which are most commonly audio or video files. These can also include written forms of data (e.g., observation notes, written journals) that require compilation into coherent, electronic formats. We accept your data files through email and also via web-based links to streaming audio and video, as well as all forms of digital media: mp3, mp4, m4a, wmv, aif, avi, amr, aac, vob, ogg, wma, and wav.

As the premier qualitative research and analysis consulting firm, we have extensive experience with a wide range of qualitative analysis protocols. Once your data collection and transcription are complete, we can assist with your interpretative phenomenological analysis, thematic analysis, content analysis, constant comparative analysis most commonly used in grounded theory (open, axial, and selective coding), and more. In addition to providing complete PDF transcriptions of your data, we can also upload your data into any qualitative analysis software program for coding and analysis, including:

  • NVivo
  • Dedoose
  • Atlas.ti

As with all of our data analysis consulting, we offer personalized and comprehensive support during and after the transcription process, seven days a week, via phone and email. Visit our qualitative analysis page to find out more about our highly individualized support for qualitative analysis and results.

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