6 Easy Steps for Transcribing Focus Group Discussions

6 Easy Steps for Transcribing Focus Group Discussions
Beth Worthy

Beth Worthy


Focus group discussions bring together people to converse about a specific topic. It is an efficient form of qualitative research that can enable your customers to clarify how they feel about something.

In a group environment, your clients can discuss ideas with others with similar interests and form viewpoints. The questions asked generally pertain to the participants' perceptions, attitudes, beliefs, and opinions.

This qualitative research method can include a small group of 5 or a larger panel of 15 people. Transcribing discussions can help your team better analyze and process the qualitative data.

However, doing so can be taxing because focus group discussion recordings are very different from a typical interview or generic audio file.

Focus group discussions often contain background noise, whispered exchanges, and non-verbal cues, making the transcription process more complicated.

Nonetheless, transcribing your focus group discussions can help you gain several key insights from the entire process, which you may not otherwise achieve.

This article describes essential steps to transcribe focus group discussions.

See Also: Best Transcription Services for Qualitative Research

6 Easy Steps for Transcribing Focus Group Discussions

1. Transcribe the Conversation Verbatim

You will need to include fillers in your focused group transcript, for example, “uh,” “er,” or “ah,” non-verbal cues, background noise descriptions, etc., along with complete sentences.

To ensure an accurate focus group transcript, you need to hear and observe the entire discussion carefully and with a lot of patience.

However, several tools can aid you during the verbatim transcription process of the discussion. Here are some of them:

  • Understanding the jargon: In certain situations, the focus group participants may use terminology or jargon specific to the concerned subject. You should know the particular terminology and jargon used in the subject if you are not already aware of it.
  • Noise-canceling headphones: These enable you to hear the speakers better, identify verbal fillers, discern any background noise, etc.
  • Collaborate with a professional focused group transcription services provider: Transcribing focused group discussions needs a lot of time, effort, and expertise. By collaborating with a professional Transcription services provider, you can get high-quality transcripts within quick deadlines.

2. Maintain Appropriate Confidentiality

You would need to maintain the necessary levels of confidentiality required during the focus group discussion.

Decide beforehand if you need to censor the participant names or whether you need to leave out the brand names or places mentioned during the discussion and several other factors.

Once decided, this should be maintained throughout the discussion. This means that all labels should be inserted after ensuring that they comply with the set confidentiality norms.

3. Identify Speakers

Once you have set the confidentiality protocols, you can identify the speakers and put in suitable speaker labels in the transcript.

You can insert the participant’s and the moderator’s names in the transcript if you are not maintaining anonymity during the discussion.

If you are, then you can simply use speaker labels like “Participant 1” or “Participant 2”. The focus group may also have predefined tags.

4. Avoid Editing Natural Speech

It is best to transcribe a focus with its original content intact.

However, at times you might prefer to clean up mispronounced words, profanities, and swear words. However, this should be done with the consensus of the research team.

There may also be situations where you may be unsure about the accuracy of a participant’s statement.

You can put the concerned statement within square brackets and add a timestamp to it for later verification in these situations.

5. Add Timestamps

Timestamps can simplify the transcription process and are essential to the transcript. In case parts of the transcript need further revisions, analysis, or proofreading, or if the transcript contains inaudible words, timestamps make it easier to locate them.

Timestamps also help your market research team track the conversation.

Generally, professional transcription services add timestamps to a transcript to simplify the process of finding specific sections within the focus group audio/ video recording.

See Also: Why Focus Group Transcripts Are Invaluable for Businesses

6. Proofread the Completed Transcript

There’s a good chance that the participants of a focus group discussion might speak incorrectly.

However, to maintain the integrity and effectiveness of the entire process, it is best to transcribe the statements made by the participants as accurately as possible.

Proofreading is the last step of transcribing a focus group discussion. For best results and to ensure optimum quality control, you should review the transcript twice.

Once that is done, you can analyze any sections of the transcripts using the timestamps to review garbled or inaudible speech, verify any crosstalk, and review any other areas as per requirement.

Transcribing a focus group discussion needs a lot of time and effort and requires professional expertise.

It is best to have reliable and professional focus group transcription services tackle transcribing these discussions in such a situation.

GMR Transcription Services, Inc. has a dedicated and experienced team of focus group transcription experts. We provide the best-in-class focus group transcription services at affordable rates with a fast turnaround time.

Contact us to get the most accurate transcription services.

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Beth Worthy

Beth Worthy

Beth Worthy is the Cofounder & President of GMR Transcription Services, Inc., a California-based company that has been providing accurate and fast transcription services since 2004. She has enjoyed nearly ten years of success at GMR, playing a pivotal role in the company's growth. Under Beth's leadership, GMR Transcription doubled its sales within two years, earning recognition as one of the OC Business Journal's fastest-growing private companies. Outside of work, she enjoys spending time with her husband and two kids.