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Why Academics Use Strict Verbatim Transcription

By 7th January 2020May 26th, 2021No Comments
Strict Verbatim Transcription

Transcription services providers are often asked about the value of opting for strict verbatim transcription over the industry favourite, intelligent verbatim.  “What value does it bring?”, “Why on earth would people want to see all those ums and ers?”

We spoke to one of our longstanding clients, a professor, to find out why, for academic professionals in particular, a strict verbatim transcript provides a valuable tool.  

What’s The Difference?

Verbatim transcription is the art of converting the spoken word into text such that what is said, is captured exactly the way it has been spoken.  

Below is a simple sentence taken from an academic transcript, reproduced in intelligent verbatim:

“I’m a professor in my university and I determine myself what my tasks are on a daily basis.  Of course, it has to be in accordance with the main objectives of the department but as a professor, I am totally in charge of my own direction.”

Here is the strict verbatim transcription:

“[Pause] Erm, I’m a professor in my university and I, well I-I determine myself what my tasks are on a daily basis ((laughs)).  Of course, um … it has to be in accordance with the, the main ob-objectives of the department but as a professor, I am totally in charge of my own er, direction.” 

Why is it useful?

The professor explains why strict verbatim transcription works for her:

  1. It aids research methodology: 

“My research methodology includes discourse and textual analysis so having the full verbatim transcript is essential, so I can hear and read the original intention of the interviewee. I’ve found for my type of analysis that strict verbatim transcription gives me is the highest quality output to work on.”

“I only use intelligent verbatim when close analysis of speech is not so critical, and when I am happy for the transcriber to ignore umms and ahhs, and to make a good calls about ways to smoothen out the spoken word.”

  1. Being back in the room:

“I like getting a strict verbatim transcript as I know that every pause, every moment when someone changes a word they were using, and all the foibles of our spoken word is captured from the voice recording. 

The transcript enables me to be back in the room with the research participant, and as I listen to the recording, that it matches exactly what I am reading.” 

  1. Reflecting depth and emotions:

“I prefer to work with the full messiness of our speech over a smoothed out version, because the various ways in which we start to formulate sentences and the struggles we sometimes have to communicate challenging ideas, is often very revealing.” 


So there we have it.  If you have any questions regarding strict verbatim versus intelligent verbatim transcription, please get in touch with the experts:

Transcribe It is the UK’s longest established transcription services provider [established 1992].  We’re highly experienced in the provision of strict verbatim transcription to the academic sector.  

Please give us a call on 01992 445411 and we’ll discuss how we can help you with your UK transcription needs.

Alternatively, you can email us your audio transcription enquiry at and we’ll be in touch with a quote!