For the Record: Questioning transcription processes in legal contexts

Emma Richardson*, Kate Haworth, Felicity Deamer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Written records of spoken interaction are typically assumed to be adequate for the purpose they serve, often receiving minimal scrutiny from the institutions which consume them. In this article, we scrutinize the current practices of capturing spoken interaction in legal contexts in England and Wales, and highlight some of the often serious legal consequences that result. We ask five questions of record keeping in legal settings: (i) Is the record produced an accurate representation of the spoken interaction?; (ii) Do lay and professional participants have ownership? Answered by giving careful thought to the rights they may or may not have to their data; (iii) Who has agency, who’s ‘voice’ is represented in the recorded account?; (iv) Then, we ask how usable the record is; and (v) How resource efficient it is to produce and use. By asking these questions, we make visible the underlying assumptions about transcription adequacy—in doing so, we acknowledge and enable reflection on the process of capturing spoken interaction. We envisage this model to be applicable to a range of institutional settings.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)677-697
JournalApplied Linguistics
Issue number4
Early online date8 Feb 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2022

Bibliographical note

Copyright © The Author(s), 2022. Published by Oxford University Press. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted reuse, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


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