Image by Christopher Maslen


For over a decade now OutScribe has continually developed and extended its own transcription platform. Whilst we do our best to present the user interface as simply as we can, under the hood it's a powerful complex beast. A few examples;

  • Cross department / organisations / projects collaboration
  • Full custom options per project
  • Drag 'n' drop multi-file uploading
  • NVivo time-stamp validation and document criteria checks
  • Extensive invoicing and credit management
  • Document archival services
  • Non-downloaded transcript detection
  • Many reporting systems

In short, providing a first class transcription service is by nature highly technical. We also make it a point to keep abreast of advances and trends.  One such trend is the growing use of automatic speech-to-text technologies. We assess these systems frequently and continue to do so. There have been tremendous improvements across the board and can be very effective for trained single voices, however, the flaws quickly surface when used for real-world recordings of interviews and focus groups which is why we currently hold the position stated below on no longer editing Speech-to-Text transcripts for clients.

Why We Won’t Edit Speech-to-Text Transcripts Anymore
Aussie Lingo

Editing and proofing inaccurate auto speech-to-text transcripts is not recommended.

We regularly have requests to proof and edit transcripts that have been created from either speech-to-text programs or services such as Otter.  There may possibly be an assumption that proofing and editing an inferior transcript is a relatively quick process but this is not the case, particularly for transcripts of interviews and focus groups.

The technology and accuracy of speech-to-text programs and services are improving all the time and it would be reasonable to expect that in not too many years’ time these may be the preferred option simply because of the cost effectiveness.  In the case of a single speaker, or even two speakers, with exceptionally clear English, no accents and who are not prone to use idioms or slang, then the use of speech-to-text programs is possibly a reasonable choice.   Of course that would eliminate most Australian speakers.  We are a nation of many and varied accents but quite possibly one of the most difficult accents for auto speech-to-text to grapple with is the dinky-di Aussie.

Interviews and conversations present their own unique challenges.  The tendency to over-speak and interrupt, the differences in speech patterns and accents all contribute to inaccuracies, and at times ludicrous guestimates, littered throughout the transcript making it unusable.

We have found that more often than not the editor has spent the same amount of time correcting an inaccurate transcript as it would have been to produce a fresh, accurate one.  Editing auto speech-to-text transcripts is a tedious and lengthy process and for this reason we will no longer offer this service.

I cringe to think of clients editing the transcripts themselves because I would hope that your skills are better employed so if you have an inferior transcript that requires more than a cursory proof we will advise that you have us transcribe a fresh transcript.

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