Best Practices to Transcribe Focus Group Discussions

by | Last updated Dec 9, 2022 | Published on Dec 6, 2022 | Focus Group Transcription, General Transcription

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Focus Group Discussions
Focus groups are a widely used tool to collect data for market research and educational studies. This group interview method is a quick and convenient way to obtain information and opinions simultaneously from a carefully selected group of people. Focus group transcription service providers convert the audio to accurate text which is necessary to preserve the information for analysis, sharing and repurposing.

Benefits of Focus Groups

Disney, Twitter, Southwest Airlines and Kraft Foods are among the big companies that have used focus groups successfully in their marketing campaigns. There are many reasons why focus groups are a preferred data collection tool:

  • Quick method to collect information about the participants’ needs and experiences
  • Convenient for collecting data from hard-to-reach populations
  • Can be arranged quickly
  • Less expensive than full-fledged surveys
  • Provides in-depth information from participants
  • Useful to collect information from people who cannot read or write
  • Encourages participation of those who don’t want to be interviewed individually

Transcription increases the value of the information obtained from focus groups.

How to Transcribe Focus Groups

Transcribing focus groups offers many benefits. Focus group transcription facilitates research and analysis and allows you to obtain insights more easily. With an interactive transcript, you can search for specific terms and locate the information you need in seconds. Proper documentation of the discussion will ensure accurate information with clarity and context, including who said what. To obtain better data, you need to know how document the discussion. Here are the best practices to transcribe focus groups:

  • Live or post-discussion transcription: Live transcription provides a text record of the spoken word during the discussion. The advantage of a live transcript is that the moderator can use it to create additional questions when the participants are present. Adding closed captions will make the content accessible to people with hearing problems and those participating in a non-native language. On the other hand, you can opt to document the recording after the discussion. General transcription providers can ensure accurate transcripts in quick turnaround time.
  • Use a quality audio/video recording system: Recording and transcribing focus groups allows you to review the sessions in depth and collect extra information. Make sure you use high quality recording equipment and check its functioning before the discussion begins. If the software malfunctions during the session, crucial information would be lost.
  • Create a verbatim transcript: A verbatim transcript is one that captures every single spoken word and sound in the recording and presents it as text. Verbatim transcripts include “um”, hm”, “ok”, “ah”, “yeah”, “uh”, and other utterances that provide a great deal of insight into the nature of discussion and its content. They will also include background noises and non-verbal communication. It’s better to leave natural speech as it is. Mark anything you are unsure about and verify it later. Verbatim transcription provides the rich, detailed and relevant information needed for research purposes.
  • Identify the speakers but ensure confidentiality: Focus groups generally have 7 to 10 participants, including the moderators. As it’s important to know who said what, identfy the speakers in the transcript. This is especially important when there are a large number of participants. Keep in mind that confidentiality is important for people to express their opinions freely. Assign identifiers like Participant A, and so on rather than names. Modern speech recognition software like Temi is designed to mark the change of every speaker and label them based on your needs.
  • Insert timestamps: Timestamps specify when the text was spoken and are very useful when you don’t understand something in the transcript and go back to the audio to clarify it. Adding these markers in the transcript will make it easy to find the information you need when you review the audio.
  • Check the transcription before finalizing it: It’s quite natural that the draft transcript may have errors and omissions. Proofreading the transcript is essential to detect grammatical or textual errors, including missed words or phrases, so that they can be inserted in the appropriate places.

In view of the many challenges involved, many organizations outsource the task to experienced focus group transcription companies. Experts can even handle issues like inferior audio recording quality, background noise, participants talking over each other, speech aberrations, and more. They can provide accurate transcripts with timestamps in quick turnaround time and at affordable rates.

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