Dr Gavin Robinson: Services

I specialize in transcription of English language documents from the 16th century onwards. I can also extract data from formulaic Latin documents, and transcribe printed text in Latin and other languages. See the headings below for more details of services and prices. I can give free quotes to help with project planning and funding bids. I am based in the UK but often work for overseas clients, esepcially in the US. My services are mostly aimed at organizations. I don't usually work for private individuals in the UK.

Manuscript Transcription

I can do very accurate full text transcriptions according to any transcription conventions you specify. Transcripts can be delivered as plain text, word processor files, or XML. I may be able to add basic XML markup at little or no extra cost if you can supply a schema and human-readable tagging instructions.

You will have to supply digital images of the pages to be transcribed, and get copyright clearance if necessary. High quality images are easier to use, but I can deal with whatever you've got, even if it's too difficult for HTR/OCR software or unskilled double keyers.

Prices and timescales for full transcripts vary according to the number of words per page, image quality, and difficulty of handwriting. Assuming an average of around 250 words per page, I could deliver up to 400 pages per month at the following prices:

To give an accurate quote, I would ideally need to see all of the pages to be transcribed, but this isn't always necessary if the documents are in a very standard form or I'm already familiar with them. Prerogative Court of Canterbury wills in PROB 11 contain a very large amount of text and will cost around £9 or US$12 per full page.

Please note that these prices are for transcription only, without any extra quality checks. I expect these transcripts to be around 99.9% accurate at word level. My usual methods include:

If you want the highest possible quality, you can pay extra for quality checks (see next section below).

Transcription Quality Checks

These checks can be added on to my transcription services, or I can perform them separately on existing transcripts. They will increase the cost for a very small increase in accuracy, but are more cost effective and ethical than blind double keying.

I do not use double keying, because it is always likely to be at least one of:

The more you try to fix one of these problems, the more you will exacerbate one of the others. Double keying is fundamentally flawed and should be avoided.

Data Entry

I can enter structured data into a spreadsheet, database, or XML file. This is easiest to do if the original document is already structured, but I can also extract structured data from unstructured or semi-structured documents.

I will need to test transcribing a sample of data before I can quote a price. Some basic data cleaning checks will be included at no extra charge.

Data Cleaning

I can check and correct existing structured data, or apply checks to data that I have entered myself. I use a combination of OpenRefine, LibreOffice spreadsheet, and custom Python scripts. Checks and corrections typically include:

I will need to see the whole dataset before quoting a price as it depends more on the number of unique values than on the total number of records.

Data Wrangling

I can extract data and convert it to other formats for reuse elsewhere. For example, I developed a semi-automated process to create wiki pages for Linking Experiences of World War One. This involved extracting catalogue records for WO 95 war diaries from TNA's Discovery catalogue, manually cleaning and reconciling the data, and using custom Python scripts to generate wiki XML that could be imported into MediaWiki. This method created basic pages for around 7,000 individual military units with much less effort than creating pages manually.