Transcription and Translation

Selecting a supplier

General Considerations when Purchasing Goods and Services

When considering the purchase of any goods or services you must refer to the University's approved procedures before any commitment is made to a supplier or contractor. Please read the Guidance on Purchase of Goods and Services on the Faculty website. In particular it should be noted that for expenditure over £1,000 it is essential that at least two alternative written quotes are obtained, unless the purchase is from a University Preferred Supplier. Alternative quotes are not required when using a preferred supplier. It is also essential that a purchase order is raised at the time of selecting a supplier and before any work is commenced, please talk to a member of the Finance or Research teams or your Centre Administrator.

The University's preferred supplier for transcription, translation and interpreting services is Prestige Network Limited.

A List of Service Providers (not a list of recommendations)

Services used by Faculty members:

Security cleared services:

Other services:

Guidelines on pricing options and transcription times

Pricing options

As a very rough guide transcription and translation costs should be budgted at £20/hour and four hours transcription time should be allowed for a one hour interview. Do not forget to allow for VAT where applicable, suppliers may quote prices before VAT (20%). Where overseas suppliers are used, reverse charge VAT at the rate of 20% will apply.Transcription companies will normally provide tailored quote based on your requirements and their current turnaround times.  Each service and recording format has its own price range - more details of which can be found below.

Per audio minute prices
For all minidisc, digital audio and digital video transcription for recordings which are clearly audible. This will enable clients to calculate the exact cost of their transcription project in advance or, in some cases, before they have even carried out the recordings. Clients about to bid for research funding have found this option particularly useful.

Per hour prices
For all analogue recordings such as standard audio tape transcription, as well as mini tapes, micro cassettes and video tapes. Often companies do not offer per audio minute rate for analogue recordings as the tape quality may be too variable (unless you consider your analogue recording to be of excellent clarity).

Discounted prices
There may be discounted service for charities, students and universities due to usual budgetary constraints. This applies to all minidisc and digital recordings.

Per recording or per tape price
Normally companies do not provide a price option for a per tape or per digital recording because no two recordings are ever the same. Two separate recordings may be an hour in length but because of all the factors discussed on the transcription times section, they will take a completely different length of time to transcribe. 

The pricing provided by some companies include project management service or proofreading, and where possible, a free digital re-recording of clear analogue recording.

Transcription Times

How long does a one hour recording take to transcribe?
It's a common misconception that one hour of recording takes one hour to transcribe. Far from it! We speak much faster than we can write or type; otherwise there would be no need for shorthand or stenographers.  It is generally accepted that we speak four times faster than we can type and seven times faster than we can write.

The professional industry standard allows ONE hour to transcribe 15 minutes of clearly recorded speech. It therefore takes a MINIMUM of 4 hours to transcribe a one hour recording depending on a number of factors detailed below. The following timings for transcription of a one hour recording are based on many years in the business and relate to transcription time, NOT recorded hours.

Dictation, one-to-one research interviews, lectures, telephone interviews, podcasts, webcasts - between 4 to 6 hours.
Focus groups, meetings, conference presentations, group interviews, teleconferences, vox pops - between 6 to 10 hours.
Video recordings, time stamps added to transcripts, or all participants identified by name for groups - between 7 to 10 hours.

The type of transcript you require will also impact on timings. The timings above are based on Intelligent Verbatim transcripts as that is the most cost effective option (see our definitions page for more details). If you require a Complete Verbatim transcript, that adds approximately 1 to 3 hours to the transcription time. An Edited Transcript adds between 1 to 2 hours. Poor quality recordings will increase these timings even further. 

What influences transcription times?
It's in the interests of both the transcriber and the client to deal with recordings of the highest possible quality.  No transcriber enjoys working with poor quality recordings, and why invest time, money and effort arranging an event only to scupper it at the recording stage? A poor recording will result in a high number of 'inaudibles' and take far longer to transcribe and will increase client costs. Producing a good quality, clearly audible recording is vital. The less time it takes to transcribe your material, the lower your final costs will be.  The choice of recording equipment and the facilitation of the event has as much impact as the efficiency of the transcriber.

It may also be useful to understand what factors influence how long a transcription will take to process, which include (see bulletpoints expanded here):

  1. The format and quality of the recording

  2. Whether an external microphone is used

  3. The clarity and number of voices

  4. Whether you require speakers to be identified

  5. The speed at which they are talking

  6. Whether they speak in coherent sentences

  7. The level of background noise

  8. The degree of regional accents

  9. The amount of industry specific or technical terminology involved

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