Transcribing Interviews For Research

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  1. Transcribing Audio Interviews
  2. Transcribing Interviews For Research Paper
  3. Transcribing Interviews For Research
  4. Transcribing Interviews For Research Methodology
  5. Transcribing Interviews Software

Top-rated transcription services for research interviews. When you choose a transcription service to use for any of your interviews – research based or not – it should be one that doesn’t add any complexity to the research process. Look for a transcription service that makes everything easier. We recently published a detailed guide on how to transcribe an an interview, but sometimes you need to look at real examples of transcribed interviews to understand the exact format, structure, and level of detail. So in this post we’ll share excerpts from an interview that was transcribed verbatim.

This post may contain affiliate links. See my disclosure for more info.

This resource includes a transcript example from an interview, formatted in several different ways:

  • Clean verbatim style
  • True verbatim style
  • Timestamps at regular intervals
  • Timestamps at speaker or paragraph intervals

I made these .docx and PDF example transcripts for university students, educators, non-profits, journalists, filmmakers, and transcriptionists.

Quick tip: If you’re not using it already, you can install free transcription software like Express Scribe to help you manually transcribe interviews much faster. The software lets you control audio playback using hotkeys so you don’t have to keep starting and stopping audio with your mouse.

And if you want to go REALLY fast, I also recommend getting a transcription foot pedal (I use the Infinity pedal). Together, these two tools will save you hours upon hours of transcription time.

If you’re a professional transcriptionist looking for work, make sure to check out my other blog posts for tons of work-from-home job leads, or browse online transcription and proofreading jobs on FlexJobs here (note: you can currently get 30% off by using promo code Save30 at checkout). FlexJobs is my top-recommended resource for higher-paying remote jobs from top-rated employers like Apple, Salesforce, and Capital One.

Okay, on to the transcript examples!

Interview transcription format sample for Microsoft Word

Download this transcription format template for Microsoft Word for use with interviews and qualitative research projects:

Clean verbatim vs. true verbatim transcript examples

There are two main styles of transcription used in interviews and qualitative research:

  1. Clean verbatim (also called intelligent verbatim or non-verbatim).
  2. True verbatim (also called strict verbatim, or simply “verbatim”).

A clean verbatim transcript is a lightly edited version of the original audio. Typically, the following elements are removed:

  • Stutters
  • Filler speech, including “um,” “uh,” etc.
  • Most non-speech sounds, including coughing and throat clearing
  • False starts

A true verbatim transcript, on the other hand, attempts to capture every utterance of the speakers. These include stutters, meaningless filler speech, and false starts. Verbatim style may also include non-speech and background sounds, such as coughing and sneezing or a door closing.

While each transcription style is useful under certain circumstances, clean verbatim is used most often because the transcripts cost less and are easier to read.

However, true verbatim may be desirable for certain qualitative and market research projects and legal investigations, where it’s necessary to study not only what was said, but also the manner in which something was said.

Below, I’ve included examples of an interview transcribed in both verbatim and clean verbatim fashion.

Example transcript in true verbatim style

Here’s a sample interview transcript that demonstrates the true verbatim style:

Download the PDF version here:
Interview Transcript Example – True Verbatim (PDF)

Example transcript in clean verbatim style

And here’s the same conversation from above, transcribed in clean verbatim:

Download the PDF version here:
Interview Transcript Example – Clean Verbatim (PDF)

We made the following changes to the second (clean verbatim) transcript:

  • We edited out stutters, partial words, and short incomplete sentences.
  • We removed meaningless instances of words like “so” at the start of sentences, and “like” when used as filler speech. (However, we left in the word “like” where removing it would have made the meaning literal when it wasn’t intended to be – i.e., when Brad refers to his “like, two” Facebook friends.)
  • We chose to leave in the laughter, as it helps capture the overall tone of the interview and the banter occurring between the speakers. We also left in nonsense exclamations like “Uh … phew,” because it helps set the context for what follows. However, we removed other non-speech sounds like coughing and throat clearing that do not contribute anything useful to the content.
  • In this particular example, we opted to remove repetitive instances of the word “actually” spoken by Brad, the interviewee. Normally we leave longer words in, but in this case we felt it was a speaker idiosyncrasy that distracted from the content of the interview.

Clean verbatim style is not an exact science, and sometimes there may be overlap between non-verbatim and verbatim styles in a transcript. All in all, the changes we made here make for a cleaner, less distracting, and more valuable interview – without detracting anything meaningful from the original.

Sample transcript with timestamps at regular intervals

Some projects require timestamps to be placed at regular intervals in the transcript so the audio can be easily referenced later.

Below is an example of an interview transcript with timestamps:

Download the PDF version here:
Interview Transcript Example – Timestamps at Regular Intervals (PDF)

Transcribing Audio Interviews

Sample transcript with timestamps at speaker intervals

Another way to timestamp a document is to place the timecode markup at speaker or paragraph intervals, like in the following interview transcript sample:

Download the PDF version here:
Interview Transcript Example – Timestamps at Speaker Intervals (PDF)

Transcript format tips

There are several formatting elements common to most transcripts. These include speaker labels, timestamps, inaudible and crosstalk tags, and markup for external sounds. Let’s look at how to handle each of these:

Speaker labels. Speakers are typically identified by first name, full name, title, or role. They can also be identified by generic descriptors, like “Male” or “Female,” when other information isn’t available.

In the above examples, the speakers’ names have been offset from the rest of the transcript for better readability. To use this formatting in your own transcripts, download the .docx template at the top of this article.

Timestamps. Timestamps, e.g. [01:27], can be placed at regular intervals such as every 15 or 30 seconds, or they may be placed at the beginning or end of each paragraph or speaker. Examples of each style are shown above.

Inaudible tags. When words or phrases are unclear, mark them out with a timecode; e.g., [inaudible 00:27]. You can also include guesses (phonetic or otherwise) as to what was said – for example, [wing yard 00:27].

Crosstalk tags. When two or more speakers are talking at the same time and it’s impossible to hear what’s being said, use a crosstalk tag, e.g. [crosstalk 01:27].

Sounds. Non-speech and background sounds are notated in brackets; for example, [laughing] or [door slams]. No timestamp is necessary.

Finally, a note on consistency and style: It’s best to follow a style guide to ensure consistency among elements like numerals, dates, titles of works, etc. We generally follow AP style. Other common style methods include APA, MLA, and The Chicago Manual of Style.

I hope you find these sample interview transcripts useful. While you’re here, you may also be interested in checking out this comprehensive guide on interview transcription, which includes many advanced tips for helping you save time transcribing.

Be sure to get in touch if you’re looking to outsource transcription – all transcripts are done by me or another North America-based transcriptionist, and we currently offer a free trial to eligible non-profits and academic institutions. We also provide professional document typing services.

If you’re thinking of starting a career in transcription, check out my complete guide on how to become a transcriptionist. I also recently posted this list of 75+ transcription jobs for beginners and pros.

If you have any questions about using the example transcripts above, leave a comment and I’ll do my best to help!

  1. Dickens on August 17, 2018 at 3:04 am

    thanks a lot for this. I appreciate th above lessons. at the moment lets keep the above into practice.


Regardless of whether you work in journalism, public relations or marketing, at some point you will find yourself tasked with the daunting job of transcribing an interview. It’s not that writing out an interview transcript is hard, but it is incredibly time consuming even for short interviews. There are online services out there that charge a reasonable rate per minute for audio or video transcription, but that as well takes time. Same thing with interns. You have the interview audio or video in hand and you want to jump to the next phase of the project to start scripting or editing your project or story. We’ll look at how to transcribe an interview with free audio transcription software so you can get to that step quickly.

Voice Record Pro: Free Audio Transcription App

Believe it or not, there’s an app for that. In fact, there are a lot of them. Some apps include audio transcription as an add on or additional paid service. One app that includes free audio transcription and is also tailored more for use by media professionals or mobile journalists is Voice Record Pro. There’s a paid version of the app as well which adds additional recording quality formats and an ad-free experience. At the core, Voice Record Pro works just like any other fully featured audio recording app on your iPhone with optional level meters, file formats, control over playback speed and a full suite of options to export your audio. Hidden down in the list of options, though, is an incredible and very simple tool to transcribe audio to text.

How to Transcribe an Interview with Voice Record Pro

To get started, simply open the Voice Record Pro app (IOS and Android) and hit record. If you’re only interested in recording an interview or conversation for notes, that’s all you’ll need. If this is a podcast or radio production project, you may want to connect a more professional microphone to your iPhone or Android smartphone. If the project is video based, you can simultaneously record the interview on your smartphone, playback the interview afterward to record on your phone in real time or Voice Record Pro offers an array of import options.

Next, go to the list of all your recordings and select the file you would like to transcribe. Along with the option to playback the audio, you’ll see options to send the audio file by email, sms or even via FTP upload. You can also upload the file to various cloud storage services or get right to editing the audio within the app. About halfway down the list you will find the option for Transcription.

From here you can select the appropriate language and then hit the Start Transcription button. Voice Record Pro leverages the voice recognition technology built into your phone and you can watch the transcription unfold in real time. Like all AI based transcription and voice recognition tools, it may sometimes struggle with names or other uncommon words, but the results are honestly pretty spectacular. Of course, if you recorded the audio in a noisy room or multiple people are speaking at once, your results will vary, but for most interview type scenarios, Voice Record Pro’s audio transcription software will save you hours of work and require only minor editing.

After the audio to text transcription for your interview is complete, you can copy/paste into another app or email yourself the transcription. To save the transcription within the app, you press Append to Notes. That saves the transcription along with the audio so you can come back to review it later.

Expanding Your Options with Voice Record Pro

Having free, quality transcription software available at your fingertips would have been a dream for reporters and producers just a decade ago, but since the software is smartphone based, you have a couple advanced options to expand your use depending on your specific application. First, if audio quality is important, you have the option to connect any professional microphone to your iPhone or other smartphone. If you want to keep it simple, Shure makes some great microphones that connect natively to an iPhone’s Lightning port. Adding a dedicated microphone will immediately improve the audio quality of recording with Voice Record Pro or any audio recording app.

Another way to expand your usage of Voice Record Pro is to take notes. The audio transcription you get in the app is not time coded and it doesn’t differentiate between speakers. That’s not a huge issue for most people, but if you want to hit the ground running with your edit, a few notes about key comments and the time they occurred in the recording can go a long way. Voice Record Pro gives you two options.

You can simply hit the Flag button to mark specific moments in the recording you’d like to note and even add a quick note on why that moment was important. You can also click the notepad in the lower right hand corner while recording to open up a full note taking screen. If you have a quiet bluetooth keyboard paired to your smartphone, you can keep up will full notes, timecodes and editorial details throughout the interview so you don’t need to waste time searching for specific moments once it comes time to edit.

Other Audio to Text Transcription Apps

Depending on your needs, Voice Record Pro may not be the perfect audio transcription app, but luckily there are plenty of other options out there. Here are a few other audio to text transcription apps to consider, although note that most offer those services for an additional fee.

Transcribe Live for Audio Transcription with Speaker Designation

Transcribe Live does one very amazing thing if you have more than one person speaking in an interview. It tells you who said what. The AI used in the computer generated transcription differentiates between each speaker and designates them as Speaker 1 or Speaker 2, etc. That can be a huge time saver depending on your project, but it comes with a small cost. Unlimited transcriptions cost $8.49/month as a subscription service or you can purchase chungs of time like one hour at $2.99 or five hours at $12.99. If you’re curious if it’s worth it, the free app download comes with 15-minutes of credit time to test it out.

Rev Voice Recorder with Human Audio Transcription

If accuracy counts and computer generated transcription isn’t your thing, Rev Voice Recorder (Android version here) promises 99% accuracy with human transcription. There’s a 12-hour turnaround but you can upload your audio and come back the next day to find a polished interview transcript in your inbox. Rev offers all that at $1/minute. They even offer the Rev Call Recorder app to record and transcribe phone calls at the same rate.

Temi with Fast Computer Aided Transcription and Cross Platform Accessibility

The makers of the Rev Voice Recorder app also make Temi (Android version here). Temi transcriptions designate between speakers and even allow you to import audio and video from other apps, including Slack. The difference is you get a computer generated transcription instead of human transcription, but at $0.10 versus $1/minute, that may be more up your ally.

Transcribing Interviews For Research Paper

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Transcribing Interviews For Research

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How to Manually Transcribe an Interview

Transcribing Interviews For Research Methodology

If you’re unhappy with the computer generated transcriptions you get with these audio-to-text transcription apps, or the app is having trouble with a particular accent or issue with background noise, you can always go back and transcribe your interview manually. For that, even though you may be an incredible typist, most of us cannot type as fast as people speak. Luckily, Voice Record Pro above and many other audio and video players will give you the option to adjust the playback speed. By reducing the playback speed to half or slower, you should be able to better keep up with your manual transcription and you shouldn’t have any of the same trouble with names, places or other uncommon words that the computer aided transcription tool could encounter.

Conclusion and Applications

Transcribing Interviews Software

Regardless of how you get there, having a full interview transcript in your hand is the best way to start dissecting what you have recorded and start discovering new ways to tell that story in your multimedia project. Maybe there’s another story hidden within the interview so you get two or more stories out of it. Or you can save the transcript along with the audio or video file and make it accessible to keyword searching down the road for future projects. Now that you know how to how to transcribe an interview with free audio transcription software, there are no more excuses for not sitting down and taking that important step in the creative, editorial process.