Focus group transcription is the creation of a precise written record of discussion at a meeting. There are a number of options available for preparation of transcripts including using a transcriptionist in the focus group and having one made from a recording. Written records can be valuable for analysis and discussion, as going over recordings can sometimes present challenges. Companies may use internal staff to make transcripts or could contract the work out to a specialty firm.
In these documents, each speaker is identified and the transcriptionist notes everything said, including verbal ticks and pauses. These notes may include references to events in the room, such as indicating when a video is screened or a sample of a print advertisement is passed around. If the transcriber works in the room or from a video, body language can be included in the focus group transcription as well. Nonverbal cues do not always carry over in speech and it can be important to know about them when reviewing a transcript.
Using a transcriptionist in a focus group can be an effective method. This person usually works with a steno machine to rapidly and accurately record information during the meeting. When the meeting is over, the transcriptionist can expand the steno record into a full document and check it against a tape or video for accuracy. Members of the group may be unsettled by the presence of an observer performing focus group transcription, however, in which case the session may simply be recorded on audio or video with discreet devices.
Recordings can be turned into a transcript by a skilled technician, who carefully watches or listens and generates a transcript. The difficulty of preparation can depend on factors like the quality of the audio and whether people talk over each other. Focus group transcription rates can vary, depending on the type of recording, to allow companies to charge more for complex or difficult records. Once the transcript is finished, it can be prepared in digital as well as hard copy format.
One benefit of focus group transcription is the ability to quickly look up information. Such documents may also be easier to analyze mathematically, as they can be loaded into programs used for this purpose. It is possible to look up keywords and references, to mark up the transcript with flags, and to turn these into quantitative data. Analysts might, for example, note the number of positive references to a product in a discussion, or could pull out specific themes from the conversation.