- Behaviour Change Campaign Sydney
By Jeff Noctis
Focus groups are often done for the purpose of research and analysis. There are numerous elements that are a part of conducting a focus group and one of those key elements that should not be put aside to the last is transcription.
Because of the various parts of creating and managing a focus group, there is a lot of potential for chaos. There are few things more frustrating than completing a productive and data-rich session only to discover that the recorded audio is unusable or that the transcript comes back in a chaotic and unreadable mess.
Transcription alone can be a difficult business, even with a professional transcription agency. It’s made more difficult when those conducting the focus group don’t make adequate preparations to ensure the continuity of the recording. If careful planning takes place, those conducting the group can make transcription easier and reduce the cost of the overall project.
Focus groups add to the overall challenge of transcription because of the variety of voices and potential accents depending on the nature, location and cultural diversity of the group. Likewise, depending on the interaction of the group and the intensity of the discussion there may be multiple people talking over one another which makes it difficult to single out and differentiate the people who are talking and what they have said.
With these variants, it can take quite a bit longer to tackle focus group transcription, which unfortunately can drive up the cost of service. There are however several things that can be done to make the transcription process easier:
Speaking Clearly for Transcription in a Focus Group
For starters, if there are food or drinks being offered then those should be given to the participants before the session starts. Not only can eating or drinking make open discussion a bit uncomfortable for others, it can be unpleasant and even more difficult to decipher what people are saying when they talk through a mouth full of food, or around a drink.
Making Technology Work For You
Second, having a quality recording system can be helpful. A central microphone is a poor choice because the people nearest the mic will dominate over others who are farther away. Having individual quality microphones, or strategically stationed microphones to pick up multiple ends of the conversation are vital to accurately picking up all aspects of the group’s conversation for transcription.
Manage the Parties in a Focus Group
As mentioned, it’s difficult to transcribe a conversation when multiple parties are talking over one another. Discerning who is talking can be difficult for even the most seasoned professional transcription service. If you have a way of marking who is speaking at a given time, this can be helpful. The participants in the focus group should also be advised to avoid talking over each other as much as possible.
To aid in transcription a focus group coordinator should let the transcription service know specifically what kind of information should be recorded. E.g. a verbatim transcription including every idiosyncratic auditory element or something more of an “intelligent verbatim” that leaves out stutters, hesitations, etc. For the purposes of market research, this information and these types of auditory cues may be helpful so it’s important to specify what is needed.
About the Author: TransDual Forensics is more than a legal and forensic transcription and translation company. We offer oral history, focus group, marketing, interview, and conference transcription and translation. Visit our site at: TransDual.com/general-transcription.php
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