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How To Transcribe A Focus Group

Transcription is not always as easy as experts make it out to be. Transcribing a single conversation can be easy at times,​ but when it comes to transcribe something as large as a focus group in which multiple conversations are taking place at the same time,​ the difficulty level increases drastically. However,​ there are some things you can do to help alleviate the burden. 

Key Tips For A Great Focus Group Transcript

Here are some excellent tips on how to transcribe a focus group.

Do Not Clean It Up Too Much

For any transcriptionist,​ the need to clean up the text is always tempting. Where background noise can be distracting,​ when it comes to focus groups,​ it is often the background noise that gives the most information to those in need of that information. Transcribing a focus group is not simply about writing down the words,​ but making an attempt at bringing the emotion into the conversation as well.

People in focus groups are expressive when they speak and the expletives,​ mispronounced words,​ and even certain sounds help to purvey the emotional message that can only,​ otherwise be heard through the audio. Cleaning up the audio will essentially strip away the emotions felt in the room which can lead to false information as humans are generally emotional based beings.  

Use Verbatim Transcription

It can be difficult at times to transcribe a focus group,​ but it is important to remember that words,​ sounds,​ and even silence are a part of the conversation. Remember to add in fillers such as showing where the room is silent as this enables researchers and those reading the transcription to understand when and why the room may have gone silent. Information such as this allows for product placement and words to be added or taken away from their promotions. The details are most important when transcribing a focus group. We call this verbatim transcription.

Apply Time Stamps

When you transcribe a focus group,​ timing is very important. The use of time stamps allow everyone to keep up with what is going on at that exact time. It also helps in cases where the audio needs to be referenced. Instead of combing through the audio,​ a time stamp gives the exact location of what is said. This aspect can,​ again,​ go back to the need for emotion. If a specific emotion is unclear in the written context,​ it is easy to pull up the audio to gain a bit more perspective on the situation. It all works together to allow the correct message to come from the focus group for quality final results.

Ensure Focus Group Confidentiality

Confidentiality is an important aspect of market or other research purposes for a focus group. Provide complete anonymity to the individuals involved so when things are meant to be confidential,​ participants often feel freer to express their individual opinions. When transcribing for a focus group,​ use anonymous words,​ such as speaker 1,​ as the names rather than specific names. Depending on the level of anonymity required,​ omitting names in general conversation may be required. It is best to ask these questions before beginning the transcription process.

Proofread Again

Transcribing a focus group requires absolute accuracy. Companies around the globe utilize focus groups to gain access to credible information to help researchers understand what the general public wants. Whether it is from a service or a product,​ the information gained should be as accurate as possible. This aspect falls right into the hands of the transcriptionist.

Proofreading,​ in general terms,​ means looking over a piece once. However,​ due to the nature of transcribing for a focus group,​ it is essential to proofread at least two times. Another tip is to proofread the piece at different times. Such as once in the morning and once in the evening. The break between proofreading allows you to refocus and possibly see more issues within the piece.