Outsourcing University And Academic Transcription Services: Who Do You Choose?

Universities and research institutions can save a lot of time recording lectures, academic research, dissertations, and other audio-visual content. They can further capitalize on that time savings by hiring outsourced transcription services to convert those files into highly accurate, digitally searchable files. 

More than 80% of universities report increased efficiency in administrative tasks after outsourcing transcription services and saving an average of 25 hours per week for faculty and staff members. 

Those are excellent stats! However, there are many more reasons why you should outsource your university transcription needs. 

The big question is to whom do you outsource?

There are several choices, like automated transcription or offshore companies. They offer “fast and cheap” services; unfortunately, their drawbacks completely negate their benefits. In this case, your best bet is a 100% human-powered transcription provider operating in the United States. 

In this article, we’ll discuss why that is and other things to consider when choosing the best partner to meet your transcription requirements. 

Understanding the University Transcription Process

We need to understand how university transcription is done before we explain why it should be outsourced. First, the academic institution records the event they’d like to get transcribed, like a thesis or dissertation defense, lectures, research proposals, interviews, focus groups, etc. The audio or video file is then sent to the chosen transcription company, which converts it to a digital text format (i.e., a PDF file) that can easily be archived and searched. 

  • The university or academic institution that requires transcription digitally records the academic presentation, thesis or dissertation defense, lectures, research interviews, focus groups, etc. The file can come as a wav, mp3, mov, wma, mpeg4, or aiff format. 
  • The audio or video file is sent to the transcriptionist or service provider via their website or app.
  • The transcriptionist listens to the entire recording, pausing whenever necessary, and creates a written text file transcribes everything uttered in the audio file (verbatim transcription) or cleans up the transcript while keeping the subject of the discussion intact (cleaned-up verbatim). 
  • The raw transcript is submitted for proofreading and editing. 
  • Once declared error-free, the completed transcript is sent back to the university. 

If that’s not enough to convince you, over 95% of universities in the United States outsource their transcription services to specialized providers.

Finding the Right Transcription Service Provider

Transcription may seem simple, but nuances in the process can lead to vast differences in the result. That’s why many transcription services offer different levels of quality regarding academic transcription—and believe me, there’s a distinct lack of reliable transcription services online.  Let’s talk about them here. 

In-house Transcription

Universities can hire transcribers or use their students to do the transcription. This might sound like a no-brainer choice—you already have students. Taking a closer look at the situation will shine some major light on its disadvantages of using students to do your transcription. 

Audio and video transcription done by students may be inaccurate and will take them 10 hours to do 1 hour of audio. Here are the most likely reasons why: 

  • Students are not trained in transcription: Transcription, like any work, may get easier over time, and a reliable university and academic research transcription service like Ditto Transcripts has tens of thousands of hours of collective experience. That’s why we can do what we do. Your students, however, will be going in blind, and any preconception about transcription being easy to do will come as a big shock to them. Listening to and transcribing what you have heard for hours is not easy. We often get half-finished documents from universities that have tried—and failed—to transcribe academic interviews and similar recordings. 
  • They don’t have the proper tools: University budgets can get stretched, and spending more on transcription software and hardware will stretch it even further. 
  • Hiring a professional in-house transcriptionist is expensive: Hiring in-house help has advantages like quick turnaround times and customizations. However, any advantage it offers is immediately negated by the fact that hiring, training, and providing your employed transcriber with a competitive salary and benefits package is very expensive.

One of the biggest advantages of outsourcing academic transcription services is it’s a cost-effective solution for universities as it eliminates the need to hire and train in-house transcriptionists.

Offshore Transcription 

Outsourcing university transcription services involves hiring external companies or professionals to transcribe academic audio or video recordings. And when you think about outsourcing, there’s a big chance the next word you think is “offshore.” 

Offshore transcription providers are foreign companies offering services to different countries worldwide. Outsourcing any business process to foreign countries can be an attractive value proposition because it may be cheaper than hiring here in the U.S. After all, those countries have lower salaries or overall labor costs. 

Some universities might consider going this route. Unfortunately, it does have a few notable disadvantages that make its cheap services not worth it. 

  • Overseas transcriptionists will likely have context issues, which can severely impact accuracy: Native English speakers have been exposed to the language since birth, which means they can understand its complexities and idiosyncracies better than anyone else, ultimately leading to more accurate results. Hiring offshore transcriptionists may be cheap, but that means you forgo that advantage.
  • Quality is rarely cheap: High-end research transcription services are more expensive because they focus on quality, accuracy, and contextual understanding to create a more comprehensive service. Cheaper services may appear to have better value until you or your students are hunkered over your laptops late in the evening, correcting piles of inaccurate transcripts to make them usable. It will make anyone wish they spent a few more dollars on quality academic transcription. 

Automated Transcription

Automated transcription is all the rage these days, with ChatGPT making waves and threatening jobs everywhere. Not in transcription, though. Here’s why:

  • Accuracy issues: AI is at most 86% accurate, which can be more of a liability than the cost-saving, time-saving method it is supposed to be. 
  • No contextual understanding: AI transcription doesn’t know how to think or have contextual understanding. It is at the mercy of background noise, overlapping speakers, different accents and dialects, and poor audio file quality. It cannot identify nuance and utilize context to create a more accurate verbatim transcription—things that come naturally to experienced human transcriptionists. 

Why U.S.-based Human Transcription Wins

There’s no reason to settle for the mutually exclusive benefits of these transcription options when you can get the best of both worlds with 100% U.S.-based human transcription services like Ditto Transcripts. Let’s talk about our advantages.

Accuracy And Language Proficiency

Transcriptionists from other countries can speak and understand English. Even AI can understand English. Fluency and proficiency, however, are entirely different, and they can present problems with the aforementioned transcription options. 

Furthermore, university transcription requires proficiency above regular fluency because discussions are held at the collegiate level. Offshore transcription companies can’t keep up. 

You won’t have that problem with us because Ditto doesn’t cut corners regarding accuracy. We only hire the best of the best native English speakers from the U.S. All our university transcription work has a 99% accuracy rate guarantee.

Time Differences

There are four standard time zones in the contiguous US, which means that, worst case, there is a 4-hour difference between the client and the company. This is rare, though; work and communication can usually be addressed within the typical 9 to 5 workday. This makes it easy for companies like us to offer prompt turnaround times while producing high-quality transcripts. 

Ditto’s operations are fully within the United States, from our transcribers to customer service representatives. No need to wake up in the middle of the night to review transcripts or wait for a prompt response; this means all your academic transcription needs will be met within reasonable timeframes. 

Security And Regulatory Compliance

One of the main arguments against offshore outsourcing is security. Their governments might require different security measures, which might not be on par with U.S. regulatory requirements. US laws and security requirements like HIPAA and CJIS are not applicable to people in foreign countries.

AI has a similar issue; platforms like Bard and ChatGPT have a big red target painted on their backs. Hackers can access tons of information if they get through those services. Even some US companies don’t have enough security to comply with CJIS and HIPAA. 

Ditto fully complies with CJIS and HIPAA and applies the most stringent security measures across all transcription specializations. Your research data is safe with us. 


On average, outsourcing university transcription services reduces costs by approximately 40%. However, most people think that U.S.-based transcription service providers are expensive. This is not always the case. 

Here at Ditto, for example, our academic transcription services start at $1.50 per minute, which is affordable and competitive. 


Outsourcing your academic transcription needs to Ditto Transcripts allows you to get the best possible service at the most affordable costs. With us, you can expect 100% U.S.-based transcription, more than 99% accuracy, fast turnaround times, top-notch customer service, unparalleled flexibility and customizability, and the highest level of security money can buy. 

So don’t settle for the first company you find online. Call us and get access to accurate and cost-effective professional transcription solutions today. 

Ditto Transcripts is a HIPAA-compliant and CJIS-compliant Denver, Colorado-based transcription services company that provides fast, accurate, and affordable transcripts for individuals and companies of all sizes. Call (720) 287-3710 today for a free quote, and ask about our free five-day trial.

Looking For A Transcription Service?

Ditto Transcripts is a U.S.-based HIPAA and CJIS compliant company with experienced U.S. transcriptionists. Learn how we can help with your next project!