Your Guide To Transcribing Focus Group Discussions

Transcription covers a vast number of industries and even the more specific groups like focus groups. The use of transcription is very important for reviewing progress made through conversations or discussions that can be easily read and evaluated.

Focus group discussions are another particular segment where transcription is useful. Although those within the focus group can do the transcribing by themselves, this is oftentimes time-consuming and generally takes a lot of effort. This is why a transcriptionist can be outsourced in order to give a thorough and more importantly, accurate transcription of the focus group discussions.

Due to the vast number of speakers that are involved, focus group discussions can be quite challenging for the transcriptionist. There are a few things that the transcriptionist has to follow in order to come up with an accurate transcription of the focus group discussions.

Here are a few focus group discussion transcription tips:


Since the transcription is also focused on not just what the speakers are saying but also how they say something and the whole environment of the focus group discussion, everything needs to be transcribed. This means that the transcriptionist should include the fillers like ahs, hms, ums, ers, and others.

The transcription, however, should also include other non-verbal communication like laughter, claps, coughs, cries, pauses, and etc. Other background noises should also be included when transcribing the audio file. This means that doors opening, pens clicking, cars honking, or maybe even dogs barking should be included in the whole transcription.

Plain transcription

It is important that the final transcription file is not simplified to the “bare conversation” since other forms of communication are also important. If the participants in the focus group discussion use certain colorful words, say things grammatically wrong, or even mispronounce certain words, it is still very important to not correct the mistakes when transcribing.

For mispronunciations, what the transcriptionist can do is to put the correct pronunciation or spelling in brackets after the mispronounced word to avoid confusion.

Make sure to use timestamps

For those that are manually transcribing the focus group discussion, this could prove quite tedious. However, a transcriptionist may use transcription tools that automatically put time stamps whenever a speaker is talking. This would generally help speed up the whole process instead of having to pause, note the time, then play again.

Identify the speakers

Once again, for those that are manually transcribing the entire focus group discussion, this is where things can get rocky. A focus group could have around 5-7 speakers so it may be hard to identify who is talking. However, a transcriptionist may refer to them as either the participant or the moderator.

For a smoother process, a transcriptionist can also use transcription tools that automatically note when another speaker is talking and can easily be edited later on. This would automatically provide the needed data and discard the need to go back and forth with names that could even confuse the transcriptionist.

Keep confidentiality

There are certain times that it might not be appropriate to give formal names of the participants on the given transcription. In fact, there are a number of researchers who would actually rather keep all of their names and places confidential. In these situations, it is important to discuss along with the customer if they would want the names/places included in the official transcription.

Clarifying with the client makes transcribing the focus group discussions much easier compared to editing everything entirely once finished. The clarification with the client will save a significant amount of time and effort when it comes to the final transcription.

Pay attention to the detail

Focus group discussions may be informal at times and this could make the whole transcription harder since sometimes, people talk at the same time along with other distractions. Sometimes, even the speakers themselves talk fast and unclearly so it is very important to pay attention to every single detail.

This is why, when transcribing focus group discussions, the best of all the transcription tips would be to make use of transcription tools in order to save time and get the raw transcription. Once the raw transcription is in place, this is where the transcriptionist can spend more time editing the whole transcription coming up with a more accurate and specific final product.

The basic idea of focus group discussion transcription is to be able to be as detailed as possible with again, not just what the speakers are saying but also how they say it. This means the “how” is equally as important as the “what.”

Transcription tips

There are three things that could increase efficiency and at the same time improve the quality of the official transcription. These few things could not only help the transcriptionist come up with better work, but also save time on a certain transcription and get more done in a short amount of time.

1. Clarify with the client

As noted earlier, the more thorough the conversation is with the client, the better chances of a transcriptionist coming up with exactly what the client wants eliminating the need for correction. This includes asking if the names should be included, the unnecessary sounds, should the mispronounced words be corrected, end etc.

2. Using transcription tools

The use of transcription tools is very important. Not only to have an automatic transcription that can be edited, but also to have automatic indications when a new speaker is talking, time stamps, and even non-verbal sounds all included.

3. Follow the conversation

When it comes to focus group discussions, some things might seem mispronounced but are actually correct in their context. This is why it is also very important to follow the whole conversation regarding what someone says, how they are saying it, and what is the context of the conversation in general.

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