Here are 3 ways a service may provide extremely low costs for transcription:
1. Outsource your work overseas where labor costs could be less than 25% of US costs-and for good reasons.
2. They could be using one of the many voice recognition software packages on the market.
3. They could be using a variety of methods involving very low labor pay rates to take advantage of a vast population of people who have minimal opportunity to earn any type of income.
With this in mind your first task is to ask yourself “what are my priorities?”
If your project’s first priority is not accuracy or presentation, i.e. a transcript that is just being used as a source for creating another document, it barely matters whether you use 1, 2, or 3 from the above list. The only thing that matters is meeting a deadline and the service you receive.
However if your priority is ACCURACY and PRESENTATION that’s a completely different story.
1. Outsourcing overseas is very interesting. From over 50 years of experience we have learned that a significant amount of their transcriptionists have BA’s, MA’s and even Ph.D.’s. While their native English is very good, they have difficulty with American English. Unfortunately their copy requires mega review time on your part (grammar, punctuation, spelling, mishearings). But also remember that if confidentiality is an issue, outsourcing overseas is a definite no/no.
2. Voice Recognition Software (VRS) issues? Where do we begin?
-VRS has difficulty in dealing simultaneously with 2 or more voices.
-VRS has difficulty with accents, dialects
-VRS has difficulty in dealing with less than broadcast quality sound
-VRS has primarily been tested only with variations of commonly used vocabulary
-VRS has difficulty with overlapping dialogue, idioms, colloquialisms and ambient sound
-VRS – Formatting? Fuhgeddaboutit!
One more point about VRS. Our research has indicated that the highest known VRS accuracy rate in the English language is 95%. This translates to 12.5 errors per 8 1/2″ x 11” double-spaced page. From that you may extrapolate the total number of errors in a 30-page transcript.
3. Varied production methods can give you varied accuracy results
-Would you want a transcriptionist choosing the projects they work on instead of the service matching the subject matter with transcriptionists’ knowledge and experience?
-For the sake of meeting a deadline would you like your 60-minute audio file divided into 60 one minute segments and given out to 60 different freelancers?
Regarding confidentiality-As we have said at least 10,000 times over 50 years, “when the White House will guarantee confidentiality so will we”. However few services like the Audio Transcription Center have an option of an in-house operation with 15 workstations so that confidential projects don’t leave our secure third-party verified premises.