How to Transcribe Interviews for Qualitative Research

How to Transcribe Interviews for Qualitative Research

Most advice about transcribing interviews for qualitative research suggests you manually transcribe all of your video footage. Why? The thought is that manual transcription forces you to sit and review all of your video footage, and as a result, you naturally do a more thorough analysis of your interview videos.

But we advise against this. It eats up a lot of time.

It takes about 4 to 6 hours to transcribe just 1 hour of video footage. Yes, in that time you will really internalize your participants’ words, but it’s not necessary — there are far more efficient ways to thoroughly analyze your research.

One way: Find transcription software you can trust.

That way, when you play back through your interview videos, you can follow along with your transcript and take notes on what’s important (instead of worrying about typing out every word that was said). You reap the same benefits of manual transcription, but your research processes are actually improved because you’re able to be a more active, engaged listener while you do your analysis. You’ll have time to pay attention not just to the words that were said, but to other nuances like facial expression, and perhaps most importantly, what was left unsaid.

In other words, spend your time on analysis, not transcription.

In this post, we're going to explain a better process to transcribe interviews for qualitative research: one that is less focused on manual, tedious transcribing; but instead, has more time devoted to analysis of interviews and sharing highlights of that analysis to other stakeholders easily and efficiently.

Let’s get started:

Reduct’s Audio & Video Transcription Options

Reduct offers two transcription services for qualitative researchers: computer and human.

Computer transcription is also known as automatic transcription because the transcription is done automatically by a computer and ready in minutes. We recommend computer transcription when you’re working with really clear audio, such as one-on-one interviews and testimonial videos. Computer transcripts are about 85% accurate but are less prone to error when your video recordings are free of background noise and speakers are easy to understand.

Human transcription is done by a real person, so these transcripts are more accurate (99%). We offer our users 24-hour human transcription, no matter the length of the uploaded recording. And since we only charge $1.67 per minute of audio, we’re the cheapest 24-hour human transcription option available, compared to other rush transcription services.

Human transcription is recommended when your audio is unclear (i.e., has loud background noise, speakers with accents, speakers who talk over one another, speakers who use a lot of technical jargon). We suggest using human transcription anytime you’re transcribing audio from focus groups or qualitative interviews where you have more than one interviewee.

Curious about how human transcription works? Our method not only speeds the process of transcription along, but it also ensures we can deliver a polished, error-free transcript for you to kickstart your research.

Here’s how transcription in Reduct works:

  • After you upload your video or audio recording, we break it up into 5 minute chunks and send each chunk off to a human transcriber. (This ensures no single transcriber can access your entire interview video and keeps your content secure.)
  • Each transcriptionist transcribes their chunk of audio, adding in speaker names where they can identify them.
  • Once each chunk of audio is transcribed, we use speech recognition AI to identify and assign speaker names throughout the entire audio file.
  • Next, do another round of quality control to make sure everything looks good.
  • Then, we piece your transcript back together and deliver the final product to you!

Both our computer and human transcripts are editable in case you spot any inaccuracies you want to fix. And even if you opt for human transcription, we’ll still send you an automatic transcript to review and work with in the meantime. Once your human transcript is available, it’ll automatically update in Reduct.

Hint: One way you can remix the old school method of manual transcription with today’s more efficient processes is by reading along and editing your transcription while you review your video footage. That way, you do a thorough analysis and have a polished transcript at the end.

It’s also worth mentioning: Some researchers like to include information about their research purposes and methodology within their transcript so everybody who accesses the transcript has some background. In Reduct, you can add notes to your video recording upon upload or make comments within your transcript to include extra details.

Use Reduct’s Video Analysis Tools to Conduct Your Qualitative Data Analysis

Reduct is far more than just a transcription tool, though: We store all of your video files in our platform and give you the tools to help with data analysis. After you have your transcript back, you can use our video analysis tools to:

  • Search through multiple transcripts at once
  • Highlight and Tag important findings
  • Have real-time discussions with your team
  • Pull important video clips (quotes, verbatims) by selecting transcript text
  • Use "research snacks" when presenting your research with peers and stakeholders your presentations
  • Create compelling video reels to bring your insights to life

Let’s talk more about how you can do your qualitative research in Reduct.

Highlight Important Moments & Tag Your Insights

Highlight & Tag

Highlight important interview data while you read through your transcript, and Tag your highlights to categorize your findings. All of your Highlights are saved in Reduct, and when you highlight sections of your transcript, our platform automatically pulls and saves those video clips for you, too.

Then, you can search back through your tags and find all of your research related to a specific topic or theme. You can also use filters to change the list (and order) of highlights you see.

Filter your highlight

While analyzing or synthesizing your data, you may find the Tags (frequency) to be a particularly useful view, as it will help you surface the tags that are bubbling up to the top in your research data, and which tags are yet not well substantiated by data.

Collaborate with a Codebook to Keep Tagging Consistent

Research can get messy if everybody tags findings in a different way; so we recommend creating a Codebook — a built-in tool to store a list of your tags and their descriptions — to keep all of your research partners on the same page. Tags can also be grouped into different groups, to create a "hierarchy" of meaning.

When you create a Codebook in Reduct, everybody is able to view your standardized tags (so multiple team members know to tag similar findings using similar tags). Our platform will even auto-suggest tags to streamline the tagging process.

Codebook

Use Fuzzy Search to Scan Through Transcripts for Themes and Concepts

Speaking of search: Our Fuzzy Search feature is perfect for qualitative researchers because it’s designed to analyze videos and transcripts for themes and concepts instead of exact search terms. For example, if you’re doing research on people’s exercising habits and want to pull all of your research where interviewees discuss running, you can type "running" into the search bar, and it’ll pull all transcripts with terms like, "run," "sprint," "jog," "marathon," "treadmill," and so on.

Search

You can use Fuzzy Search to scan through your whole library of videos, or a specific Project Folder, to find multiple transcripts at once.

Whether you’re using content, thematic, or discourse analysis research methods, our Highlight and Search features help you weed through your transcripts to pinpoint important findings and share those findings with everybody you need.

Create Project-Based Folders and Collaborate With Other Researchers

Organize your library of videos by creating dedicated folders of videos for each of your research projects. This not only makes it easier to weed through your video library, but it also makes it easier to share a large volume of videos with other researchers and stakeholders.

Project

When you add another Reduct user to your Project Folder, they’re able to access all of your video files within and upload videos of their own. You can also give your team members commenting and editing access, as well, so you can collaborate together on video analysis in real-time and view each other’s work.

Create Reels & Share Your Research Findings

Reduct is also built with easy video editing tools so researchers can actually use their interview videos while presenting their findings to stakeholders; this allows researchers to represent their interviewees in the most authentic way, while also giving their research more of a punch.

As we mentioned earlier, our platform automatically pulls and saves all of your highlighted sections of transcript as video clips. You have the option of sharing just those clips, or, you can consolidate video clips into a longer Reel.

Project

To create a Reel, all you have to do is drag and drop your video clips, which were what you highlighted in transcript, into a sequence. You can arrange them in whatever order you want, and our platform creates seamless transitions between clips.

Reel

When building Reels, you can add text slides between clips to create context or provide viewers with more information. It’s also easy to edit out sections of video (i.e., the interviewer asking research questions or for more context during an interview video) or filler words (i.e., ah, um) by striking through transcript text.

Strikethrough

Our platform automatically captions your videos by pulling text from your transcript, too. Our automatic captioning feature:

  • Allows people to watch a video without sound on. Super nice when watching on mobile, around other people, etc.
  • Provides accessibility for anyone who is hearing impaired,
  • Is great for non-native English speakers who may not catch every word, especially if spoken fast.
  • Is also appreciated by "regular people," who often say that seeing & hearing the words gives them a deeper understanding of what is being said.
  • Holds people's attention better because they are word for word.

Reduct also integrates with more advanced video editing software, like Adobe Premiere Pro and Apple’s Final Cut Pro X, if you want to use those tools to make any finishing touches to your video.

You can also check out our post on editing interview videos for more advice on how to create engaging and polished video narratives.

After edits are complete and you’re ready to share your research, you have a few options:

  1. Use a share-link: your viewers will see a webpage with video & interactive transcript,
  2. Download captioned video, and embed it (eg. in a deck), or
  3. Invite your colleagues to work with you on Reduct.

Our recommendation is to use a share link, for several reasons:

  1. They’re incredibly convenient. All you need is to hit "Share" and copy/paste a URL.
  2. They unfurl nicely — with a thumbnail, video length, and a few words from the transcript. This happens across messaging apps (like Slack and Teams), workspace collaboration tools (like Notion, and Dropbox Paper), and even social media.
  3. They update automatically. If you share a reel, and continue editing it, the viewer will see all the latest changes. No work required on your part.
  4. They don’t require a login, or seat fees to view. Only people with access to the share link can see it, and if the link gets accidentally posted somewhere it shouldn’t be, you can always disable sharing.
  5. They come with an interactive transcript! Your viewers can easily save time by reviewing transcripts, watching video, or watching video at 1.5X speed.

And of course, you can always download the text in a separate transcript file in .doc or .srt format.

Try Reduct’s Video Transcription, Analysis, & Editing Platform for Free

Reduct is a video transcription, video analysis, and video editing tool that is actually built by a researcher: we not only give you a high-quality transcript to kickstart your research, but we also give you tools to conduct your research and share all of your findings. (No more time-consuming manual transcription and paper edits for video.)

To see how Reduct improves your research processes and lets you better utilize your video content — even when you are working with hundreds of video files — get in touch with our team to start a free trial.