Transcribing Focus Group Discussions in 5 Steps

August 5, 2020

Transcribing Focus Group Discussions in 5 Steps

Hosting a focus group discussion is a valuable qualitative research method for gathering data whether it be a small group of 5 or a large group of 15. Even more so when they are transcribed. Transcriptions can help market researchers get the qualitative data they need. If you’re not transcribing your focus groups, you might not be getting the most insights out of it. Here’s how you can transcribe your interviews or focus group discussions in 5 steps: 

Step 1: Transcribe the focus group verbatim

Apart from complete sentences, you’ll also have to include fillers such as “uhm”, “uh”, or “ah”, descriptions of background noises, non-verbal communication, and more. You need to have an observant eye or a keen ear and a lot of patience to come up with an accurate focus group transcript. With that said, there are some tools and equipment that can be of aid when transcribing focus group discussions in a verbatim manner. Here are some of them:

  • Noise-canceling headphones - This will help you hear the speakers better, hear background noises, specify speech fillers, and more. 
  • High-resolution screen - A high-resolution screen from any gadget will help you playback the video recording of a focus group discussion and see how the speakers pronounce a word or deliver a phrase. This can contribute to better understanding of otherwise unintelligible speech. At the same time, this will also help you see the non-verbal cues in the discussion. 
  • Jargon dictionaries - There might be circumstances when speakers in a focus group will use jargon, specific words and terms used in a particular field. Jargon dictionaries will be beneficial if you’re not privy to these technical terms and will help you write a more accurate transcript.

Step 2: Consider and maintain confidentiality

Before you insert speaker labels, you should consider the confidentiality of the discussion and maintain this all throughout the transcript. Know if you should censor the names of the participants, or if you should omit the places or the brands that will be mentioned in the focus group, and more. It’s important that you prioritize this from start to finish.

Step 3: Insert speaker labels

After considering and noting the confidentiality, you can now proceed to identifying the speakers and inserting the appropriate speaker labels on your transcript. If you’re not maintaining anonymity in the transcript, insert the participants’ names or the moderator’s names. You can also use simple speaker labels or identifiers such as “male”, “female”, or “Participant A” and “Participant B”, or whatever is prescribed for the study.

Step 4: Use timestamps

Timestamps are essential in a number of ways. For one, it will help identify or locate inaudible words or parts which will help in proofreading and reviewing the transcript. Another is it will help you as a market researcher keep track of the conversation and know how much time has elapsed in the focus group discussion. Make sure you add proper timestamps all throughout the focus group transcript. 

Step 5: Proofread the focus group transcription

The last step in transcribing focus group discussions is to proofread the transcription. Now, you can go back to certain timestamps, go over the specific inaudible parts, double-check any crosstalks, and more. It’s also important that you don’t clean up the transcription too much. Leave it as natural as it can be. If the speakers made mistakes or uttered profanities, leave it be or at the least, consult the others on your team if they want these on the transcripts.


Have a reliable transcription service transcribe focus group discussions

You also have the option to entrust the focus group transcription to professionals. There are a few transcription services that offer focus group transcriptions, and you can utilize their services for your market research projects to generate better insights and help you enhance your qualitative research.

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