I receive inquires regularly where a client requests one type of service, but after some well-placed questions, I discover that they really want a completely different service because we have different definitions for things. Most recently, a client inquired about transcription services, but what they really needed was proofreading to audio with a side of scoping, which are all vastly different animals. So let's break them down.
Scoping comes BEFORE proofreading in the court transcript process.
Real-time proceedings > Scoping > Proofreading > Finished transcript
Scoping and proofreading are NOT the same thing. Sometimes scopists proofread, but proofreaders do not scope. Kind of like all thumbs are fingers, but all fingers are not thumbs. A scopist's job is very different from proofreading. It may help to think of scoping as closer to editing. By nature, scopists do some proofreading as they go along. But, their scope (pardon the pun) is actually much larger and more technical than proofreading (hence the larger paycheck), and they will, naturally, miss errors.
A scopist's primary function is to make sure that all of the steno translated properly. A scopist will work in the same software as the court reporter and may check the transcript against audio (if available) when things look off. A scopist may add in missing bylines, remove duplicate text, fix sections where the steno translated incorrectly, and notify the court reporter of bad dictionary entries. They likely identify misspellings or incorrect word usage as part of that process, but it's not the primary focus.
When a scopist does their job well, it allows the proofreader to focus on giving a transcript that final check which prevents small errors -- that add up to embarrassing mistakes -- from slipping through. After the scopist makes sure that all of the steno translation is clean, a proofreader takes one last pass and cleans up capitalization, spelling, word usage, transposed words, and stray formatting issues. The biggest task a proofreader has is to correct punctuation so that the spoken word is as readable as possible. Transcript proofreading is a final polish that can take you from being a decent reporter to being an exceptional one.
Some court reporters scope their own work and hire a proofreader for the final pass; some hire a scopist, but do their own proofreading; and others hire out both scoping and proofreading. What makes sense for you depends on how busy you are accepting new jobs. Hiring a proofreader not only makes your work stand out (in a GREAT way), but is very cost effective. If you have questions about my proofreading services, please visit the Contact page.
Court transcripts are created in one of two ways. Sometimes a proceeding is recorded on video or with audio and a transcriber creates a written text format of the transcript. Other times, a court reporter is present who takes down the proceeding in real-time using steno. That steno is then converted into a physical, written text transcript by the court reporter.