Overqualified transcriptionist with over 20 years experience with flying fingers (90+ words per minute)
Happy to give references upon request
Over the years, I've heard – and not heard – quite a lot. Allow me to share some tips and tricks for terrific transcripts.
The recordings provided by facilities are often of poor quality (and sometimes they forget to turn the recorder on!) I've been encouraging my moderators to take matters into their own hands and bring one of the new digital voice recorders, such as the Olympus DS-40 or Edirol R-09, which have excellent recording capabilities. Place it in the center of the table, perhaps more towards the respondents and less towards yourself, because I never have trouble hearing you moderators!
Moderators who kindly and repeatedly remind respondents not to all talk at once get the Mary Ruth Clarke MVP Award. It really, really does make a difference.
Attention Ethnographers: The recorder is an equal opportunity documenter and doesn't know that dishwashers, television sets, and panting dogs are background noise. It records all sound equally.
If you use the Voice Activation feature on a recorder, i.e., the recorder stops every time a voice stops speaking and starts up again when it begins, it is most likely that the interview will be lost. Don't touch that VA button!
If a respondent is a soft talker, repeating what he/she said is a great way to not lose their opinion. (And sometimes they get the hint and talk louder!)
I have been freelancing in the worlds of qualitative research and strategic ideation for 22 years. The majority of my career has been servicing independent and in-house moderators and facilitators. I have ghost-written reports and ethnographic summaries. I am a playwright/actor and have taught acting/improv workshops to QRCA moderators, operated as a contrarian-respondent plant in a series of focus groups for a political party, named a theme park, a restaurant, a new electronic device, and my own screenplay: Meet The Parents.
I will be happy to supply references upon request.