We don’t think so.
Some folks passionately believe proofreading on a screen is less accurate than proofreading on paper.
We respect those folks as fellow professionals, and we want to state up front this FAQ post is NOT intended to start some kind of argument or lengthy debate.
There is some truth to the belief that paper is mightier than the screen … but we’ve determined that the “truth” currently floating around cannot be applied to ALL screens — that is, all screens are not created equal.
We’ve done thorough research on this debate. First and foremost, we found that there have been no studies done on screens vs. paper since 2006 — yet the iPad was first released in April of 2010 (and has been since greatly improved upon in just a short time).
In addition, a grand total of zero studies have been done between an iPad and paper.
Furthermore, no official, objective studies have been done between any type of screen and paper with transcript proofreading as the task at hand.
The Garland article compares all studies that have been done on paper vs. screen over the last four decades. You’ll note that the later the study, the fewer significant differences were found in terms of reading speed and accuracy between paper and screen reading, if any were found at all.
We feel the evidence is undeniable that these older studies, while arguably true at one point, are unable to provide a clear picture for today’s technology.
The findings from the studies, however, continue to be cited as truth despite evidence to the contrary. What was true about technology in the ’70s, ’80s, ’90s, and even into the 2000s and beyond isn’t necessarily true in 2015 — and it can’t be, logically, because the technology that existed in the time periods the studies were performed (especially the older studies) isn’t even manufactured anymore.
Therefore, we don’t believe grouping all screens together into one category is fair — screens have come a long way since the studies were done. Do you remember using computers from the ’80s, ’90s, and the 2000s? The monitor displays were grainy, pixelated, and they were no comparison to the crystal-clear, paper-like display of modern tablets such as the iPad.
For us here at PA, we believe the iPad’s ultra-clear retina display trumps the screens of older computer monitors that were the subjects in many of the past studies.
Moreover, for those who’ve used an iPad specifically to proofread transcripts, it’s hard to deny the oomph an iPad adds to our proofreading: an instant dictionary and Google look-up tools; automatic backlighting adjustments on an ultra-clear retina display (easy on the eyes); and our favorite — the document search tool, which makes it fast and easy to check for all additional instances of a misspelled name, number, or word. We believe iPad has the potential to make proofreading even more thorough — especially if you fully utilize the available tools.
If you’re concerned about the effects of light emitted from iPad screens, even from the sleek retina screen, we recommend purchasing blue-light filtering computer reading glasses or these nifty screen films for iPad.