Focus groups form a popular qualitative research methodology in various business fields, including the medical field. The information obtained from discussions such as this, is not only useful for research purposes but also for diagnosis and treatment. For instance, the University of Wisconsin conducted a research on computer interviewing for patients in a family practice clinic, and the outcome of the study was evaluated in a follow-up focus group discussion by physicians. This helped in collecting useful data and obtaining the required information in a more convenient way. The main benefit of focus groups is that it can generate a large amount of information difficult to obtain from written surveys or one-on-one interview in a short period of time.
It is imperative to capture all the nuggets of information generated in a focus group interview or discussion as we don’t know which data will turn out to be most valuable. Here comes the importance of recording focus group interviews or discussions and transcribing them accurately for later use. So, how can we record focus groups efficiently? The answer is ‘digital recording’. Apart from getting high quality sound, digital recordings can be downloaded directly into the computer using built-in USB and transmitted easily through email.
What are the points to bear in mind when recording focus group discussions/interviews?
- Ensure that the participants have no objection to recording the focus group discussion.
- Give details about the research and the necessary background information before starting the recording. This will save the recording time.
- If you want the different speakers in the focus group to be identified in the transcribed documents, ask each of them to introduce themselves at the time of recording. In the case of a large group, ask each of them to mention their name whenever they make a comment.
- Set up some rules (for instance don’t talk over each other, don’t make noise) for the participants before you start the recording so that there will be less difficulty for the transcriptionists later.
- Use an external microphone on your recorder instead of using internal mikes as they are only suitable for one voice. It is better to use a series of microphones when there are more than four participants.
- Choose a quiet place for recording to reduce background noise and thereby increase the sound quality.
- Ensure that your recorder has the facility to transfer files to a PC and you are using a file format that is compressed so as to transfer them over the internet to the transcriptionist.
- Check if there is any recording problem with your recorder before starting the group.
- Do not serve food in between the recording as the audio may be rather unclear amidst the noises of eating.
If you have challenging focus group transcription requirements to meet, go ahead and hire a professional medical transcription company that can offer the service of skilled, experienced medical transcriptionists and three-level quality assurance.