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4 Keys to Successful Focus Group Transcription

Focus group transcription involves creating an accurate record of what was said during a focus group without necessarily recording every “um,” “uh” and utterance made by the speakers. Best tackled by a person who attended the original focus group, the task demands careful listening and sensitive interpretive skills as it requires you to make info accessible in a way that facilitates analysis and eliminates confusion.

Listen to the Recording First

Before typing anything, listen to the recording of the focus group. Pay close attention to everything that was said. If you attended the focus group, recall and visualize any nonverbal communication cues including head movements, shrugged shoulders and facial expressions. Also, pay attention to tone, pacing and pauses, as they affect meaning.

Format the Transcript Like a Play

When you finally begin to transcribe the focus group’s conversation, format it like a play, placing each speaker’s name and a colon before their speech. If you were involved in the focus group, do not use your name. Instead, designate your role as an interviewer or as a facilitator.

Edit Everything

Once you have completed transcribing the words that were said, edit your focus group transcription. Most people do not speak in complete sentences. Edit the transcript to make the sentences grammatically complete or for clarity. Correct poor grammar as long as you are not destroying the flavor of what was said.

Remove “ums” and “uhs” as well as habitual qualifiers such as “like” or “you know” unless you believe they add meaning to the conversation. If you have to add words for clarity, put them in brackets.

Explain Interruptions, Abbreviations and Jargon

Note interruptions to the conversation so readers fully understand the flow of the focus group’s conversation. If the phone rang, someone came to the door or the group took a break, simply note that in the transcript.

Also, explain any abbreviations or jargon in the conversation to increase reader understanding. If you must include mumbled words or phrases that you cannot distinguish on the recording, follow those phrases with a question mark in brackets or include a bracketed note explaining that the speech was not clear.

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