Turnaround Time

Transcription Turnaround Time

The greatest determinant in the turnaround time of any transcription task depends on the recording situation and the quality of the audio or video. It will obviously take far less time to transcribe a physician’s dictation than it will take to transcribe a disciplinary hearing with six participants.


As a general rule, it takes approximately four to eight hours to transcribe one hour of recording. The four-hour turnaround time applies more to dictation transcription and the eight-hour turnaround time is more relevant to the transcription of disciplinary hearings.

For Dictation

My aim is to complete the transcription of dictation within 12 to 48 hours and is dependent on the quantity of dictation received. Generally speaking, it takes approximately one hour to transcribe 15 minutes of dictation.


It is important to bear in mind that the better the audio quality, the quicker the turnaround time. Factors that will speed up the transcription of dictation are listed on the Tips for Recording Dictation page to assist clients in producing an optimised dictation recording. It is not always possible to find the ideal environment in which to dictate medical reports as doctors work under extreme pressure and finding the time for dictation is usually the overriding factor with less attention paid to the recording environment. This is perfectly understandable and I am accustomed to receiving reports dictated in all environments and merely work with the audio that I receive.

For Interviews

I will require approximately six hours to transcribe one hour of recorded interview audio. Certain factors can slow the pace of transcription and these are usually attributable to a recording device that is perhaps not the best choice for the job or that the interview was recorded in a noisy environment. Often the decision as to the choice of venue where the interview will take place is left up to the interviewee and if this venue is a noisy restaurant or a busy home, the researcher has to do the best they can in the situation presented to them.


In instances where the quality of audio does not allow for quick and fluid transcription, the turnaround time will increase accordingly. This increase may in some circumstances be so significant that the charge rate will need to be adjusted to compensate for the increased turnaround time. The client will be advised should this situation arise and asked to make a decision about whether or not transcription should continue at the increased rate.


Several tips for recording interviews are provided on the Tips for Recording Interviews page.


It does happen – but only on rare occasions – that I receive files where the quality of the audio precludes the production of a coherent transcript. Unfortunately, in such instances the client is advised that the file is not viable for transcription by Etranscript.

For Disciplinary Procedures

Disciplinary hearings are by their nature, being many voices with overlapping speech, different accents and sometimes even second or third-language English, take significantly longer to transcribe than interviews or dictation. Accurate voice attribution is vitally important when transcribing disciplinary procedures which therefore extends the turnaround time. In instances where the session has been loud and lively with a much cross-talking, transcription can take even longer. I therefore prefer to set aside at least six hours to transcribe one hour of a recorded disciplinary hearing and often this extends to eight hours where the recording situation has been less than ideal.


Several tips that may assist you in obtaining an optimal recording can be found on the Tips for Recording Disciplinary Procedures page.

Lectures and Speeches

When planning your project, allow at least one working day for the transcription of one recorded hour of a speech or lecture. For example, a two-hour lecture will take roughly two working days to transcribe. To ensure the quickest turnaround time for the transcription of your speech or lecture, take note of the pointers listed on the Tips for Recording a Lecture or Speech page.

For Focus Groups

As explained on the Transcript Types page, two formats are available for the transcription of focus groups, namely a voice-name attributed transcript and a non-voice-name attributed transcript. The former format obviously requires more time to transcribe than the latter. For planning purposes, allow for one working day for the transcription of one hour of focus group recording where the transcript does not require voice-name attribution; and allow two working days for the transcription of one hour of recording of a focus group where the transcript will require voice-name attribution.


In instances where the focus group sessions are well managed by the facilitator to minimise noise and cross-talking, it is possible to significantly shorten the transcription turnaround time.


Some helpful suggestions are offered on the Tips for Recording Focus Groups page that may assist in achieving an optimal recording for your focus group session.

Transcription timer sandglass
Laptop and tablet on desk for transcription