There are of course higher-quality transcripts and lower-quality transcripts. Some of the characteristics of the latter include the following:
* Run-on sentences. A less-skilled transcriptionist may not insert periods and commas at pauses, or at the end of a thought or statement. A speaker may sound like his or her sentences are running together, but actually, they are not. A good transcriptionist knows where a thought ends and where a new one begins, and inserts a period (or if appropriate, a comma) there. If a speaker cuts off a sentence and switches to a new thought, some form of punctuation should be present, such as dash ( — ), to indicate that.
* Too-long paragraphs. If the speaker is speaking for a long time, the text should be broken up into paragraphs, which makes it easier for the reader to follow.
* “Improvising”, i.e. where the transcriptionists writes the same meaning of what the speaker said using a different word or words that the speaker actually used.
* Omitting perfectly audible words or phrases. (And we’re not talking about words like um’s, uh-huh’s, OK’s, etc.) Or, if the word or phrase is inaudible, there may be no “(inaudible)” or some such indicator that a word was there.
So make sure the transcription company you go with avoids the above.