Posted on 21 April 2012
Focus groups can be defined as small interview groups that are structured. People who go through the interview usually have similar characteristics (e.g. different backgrounds with the same views on various topics, they could also be part of the same community or financial group). The main aim of the interview is to collect information about a certain topic that is guided by a set of focused questions. Participants listen and interact with each other as well as the facilitator or leader which usually results in different views as opposed to interviewing different people separately.
Purpose of the focus groups is to come up with a deeper understanding and broad view rather than get a quantitative summary. A lot of emphasis is put on opinions, responses and insights. Focus groups are normally made up of 8- 12 people. Multiple groups are normally encouraged as all the discussions are mostly influenced by the comments from the individuals who are involved. The discussions are normally held for about one or two hours. There are some special cases however when it can last the whole day or two.
It is important to have a skilful leader or facilitator to handle the focus group. An outsider can be used especially if you are familiar with the participants so that they can be comfortable enough to address their views. The questions should be set in such a way that the conversation flows naturally. Do not ask too many questions and they should be classified as broad or specific. When recording the sessions always make sure that the speakers identify themselves before they go ahead and speak. This is usually easier for the transcription process.
The interview usually consists of 3 parts: opening, questions and conclusion.
The opening section is supposed to welcome all the participants, introductions and thanking them for attending the focus group. Purpose of the focus group should be reviewed so that people are in the same page. Don’t brush away negative comments as they help to provide insight on the topic.
Remember to guide all the participants through the questioning part so that there are no confusions.
When it comes to the conclusion part, this is where things that were being discussed are wrapped up. This is done by summarizing the discussion and giving the participants the chance to say their last words. Finish off by thanking the participants for spending their time in the discussion and offer to give them transcribed material once it is available. More on Focus group transcription.
Posted on 07 July 2011
Focus group discussions are a popular interview method used to collect relevant information from a group set up. Usually these group discussions are informal and allow the sharing of information between the participants. The group sessions have a moderator, or moderators, who facilitate the discussions by asking questions relevant to the research topic and encouraging debate among participants to get different point of views about the topic at hand. For effective analysis of these group sessions; a number of people have turned to digital recordings for documentation purposes. Here are a few tips which will help you prepare the discussion groupings for digital recordings.
- The first step is to get a good digital recorder and get familiar with the equipment. Set the recorder up and record discussions with friends; in order to get a feel for the equipment and how it works.
- Get an external microphone to ensure that you will record high quality audio. The audio recorded is very important to the transcription process; if any sound distortions are picked up the transcription is likely to have inaccuracies or misinterpret facts. The internal microphone which most recorders come with is not sufficient to get the clear audio quality required for transcription purposes. An external microphone also acts as a backup plan should the internal microphone fail to record any sound.
- Set the recorder to use a compressible file format. This may be a technical process and you can get help from an audio equipment expert.
- When initially purchasing the recording equipment; make sure that the recorder is supported your computer’s operating system. This is because you will transfer the recordings to your computer for storage and to send to transcriptionists via email.
- Make sure that you inform participants that the group sessions will be recorded for documentation purposes. This is an important move to help participants prepare to speak freely regardless of the presence of recording equipment.
- Record the participants when the only activity taking place at that time is the discussion. Recording when the participants are eating will lead to muffled audio and the participants will be more conscious of the equipment and give inaccurate facts or refrain from answering questions entirely.
Once you have your digital recording from the group discussion; transfer it to your computer system. Remember to compress the digital audio file and create a backup storage for the file for added safety. more on focus group transcription