6 Useful Tips To Transcribe Focus Group Discussions

by | Last updated May 16, 2023 | Published on Aug 27, 2021 | Focus Group Transcription

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Focus Group

Focus group transcription is the process of creating an accurate record of what the participants said during a focus group session. Focus group is a group of individuals with some common interest or characteristics who come together to discuss a particular idea. A focus group is a good market research tool that uses guided conversations to collect qualitative data on a subject. It usually consists of 10 to 12 or fewer individuals led by a moderator. Focus groups can be used to measure the reaction of the public or society towards specific issues or projects and help in decision making, strategic planning and resource allocation. As focus groups are large groups with multiple speakers, it is always a challenge to transcribe a focus group discussion. The best way to have focus group discussions transcribed is by entrusting it to professional transcriptionists.

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Transcribing Focus Group Discussions

For the transcription to be accurate, it is important to have a clear recording of the discussion. So, make sure to place the microphone in the middle of the table during the discussion or you can pass the microphone to each speaker so that each and every word is captured. If you are transcribing all by yourself, then ensure the following.

  • Noise Cancelling Headphones: Use noise cancelling headphones so that you can hear your speakers better and specify speech fillers.
  • Screen High Resolution: A high-resolution screen from any device will allow you to play the video recording of a focus group discussion and see how the speakers pronounce a word or deliver a phrase. This helps you to better understand unintelligible speech. It also helps you to see the non-verbal cues in the discussion.
  • Jargon: The speakers in the focus group may use jargon, or specific words and terms used in a particular field. Jargon dictionaries will be useful if you are not familiar with these technical terms and it also helps you transcribe more accurately and effectively.

Tips to Remember When Transcribing Focus Group Discussion

  • Stick to Verbatim: Every word spoken by the participants in the focus group should be recorded and transcribed as it is. All non-verbal utterances like umm, throat clearing, laughter, applauses, background noise and even silence should be recorded.
  • Don’t Edit Do not make major corrections while transcribing. Take down every detail of the discussion without correcting any grammatical errors or mispronounced words. If you find it difficult to understand certain words, mention the correct spelling or pronunciation in brackets.
  • Know the Speakers A focus group discussion consists of 7- 10 speakers including the moderator, therefore it is difficult to find out who said what. So, identify the names of the members participating in the session. Generally, the members are identified as “Participant” and “Moderator”.
  • Place Time Stamps Using time stamps in the text where you find words that are difficult to understand will help the end users identify the part on the audio while editing. Many participants speak simultaneously in the discussion and so the discussion is inaudible sometimes, and using stamps on such parts could help.
  • Listen Carefully Focus group sessions are not organized or disciplined. This is because participants tend to talk simultaneously, get into arguments and talk over each other, speak really fast, and sometimes turn away the microphones etc. Hence to transcribe focus group sessions, one should have keen listening skills and also the capability of understanding various styles of speaking.
  • Ensure Confidentiality Some focus group participants may not be interested in disclosing their names whereas some others will want their names and places to be transcribed. So, this is something to be specially noted.

The idea of a focus group is to encourage group interaction, gather information, and derive valuable insights. It is not always easy to transcribe a focus group discussion because there will be some background noise, talking over each other, cross communications and other distractions that make transcription difficult. Focus group transcription is one of the most challenging transcription types, hence to gain maximum benefit, it is better to hire a reliable legal transcription service. Professional transcriptionists provide digital transcription services within your required turnaround time, ensuring accuracy and reliability.

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