The answer to this really depends on where you’re sending your data, because there are transcription companies around the world, quite literally thousands of them.
Beware the .co.uk websites – are they really UK based?
You can be visiting a .co.uk transcription website without actually realising that the company is based in the Philippines or Kenya, because firms can have a platform located in the UK but actually be based completely overseas, with all their transcribers anywhere in the world.
Where is your data going?
In fact, unless the company specifically says so and guarantees it, you have absolutely no way of knowing where your data is going, who is going to be transcribing it, who is going to be listening to the recording or reading the transcript once it is complete and neither do you know how secure it has been from the point the data left your system to go to the transcription company.
‘thousands of transcribers’
You can take a look online and see for yourself by simply researching some of the larger transcription companies. You will see that they have information on their site saying they have thousands of transcribers able to assist. These thousands of transcribers sometimes get data sent to them in small chunks of 10 to 20 minutes, and others will get the whole file to transcribe. Very few of them will have actually been vetted and an extremely low number will be actual professional transcribers working regularly on academic or business grade transcription work.
The vast majority of transcribers (also known as transcriptionists) used by some of the larger platforms are freelancers, based anywhere in the world, with any level of English, who transcribe segments of recordings at extremely low cost, and then these are put together and returned via an operative who reviews the work and makes sure that it’s all in the right place. Sometimes this can be extremely accurate and well typed, and other times it can either be returned uncompleted because the transcriber hasn’t been able to pick up the accent of the person speaking. Whilst the platforms do give a guarantee that the work being completed to a certain level of accuracy, they cannot usually guarantee how your recording or transcript will be kept secure and not released outside the UK or the EU.
Keep control over your data
There is of course something you can do about all of this, which is mainly to ensure that you use a transcription company able to provide you with the reassurance that
a) they know who their transcribers are personally,
b) they have years of experience transcribing highly sensitive and confidential recordings, and
c) your data will never leave the UK (or EU if you are an EU customer).
TP Transcription Limited
TP Transcription Limited is exactly that company! We are specialist, high end transcribers with over 20 years in the industry undertaking transcription work for just about every university in the UK and others around the world (we own www.universitytranscriptions.co.uk), dealing with highly technical data, transcribing conversational analysis (Jefferson) as and when required, dealing with focus groups or recordings where there are lots of different speakers with strong accents who each need to be identified, adding time stamps on a bespoke basis where required, providing transcription in lots of different languages as well as translation, and pretty much anything else you can think of linked in to transcription work.
UK based secure data transfers
We do not outsource our transcription work to other people. We do not use hundreds of freelancers who transcribe small sections of recordings and we are completely UK based, with an office in Ireland to service our Irish and EU customers. We personally know all of our small team of less than 100 transcribers, who undertake regular work through us and are vetted and tested when they begin work with us. Some of our transcribers have been with us for over ten years. We maintain strict standards of accuracy, invoice once the work is completed to your satisfaction and never ask for payment upfront, so you can be assured of the quality of our work.
If you would like to try out the service offered by TP Transcription and University Transcriptions, please get in touch with us via the website at www.tptranscription.co.uk.