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Digital Recording For Transcription of Focus Groups – Top Ten Tips

Anne Hickley

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  • Check with the participants before the group starts that they do not mind being recorded for later transcription. Do this well in advance as if one person objects you may have to abandon the recording.
  • Conduct explanations about your research and give background information before switching on the recorder, to save on recording time.
  • If you need to have the different speakers identified in the transcription ask each person to introduce him/herself and, if you have a large group, ask each person to state their name every time they make a comment.

  • Lay down the ground rules to participants before you start e. g. remind them not to talk over each other as this will cause problems for the transcriptionist.
  • Use an external microphone on your recorder.

    Internal mikes are only suitable for dictation (one voice). Ideally, if you have more than four people, use a series of microphones.

  • Record the group in a quiet place. Background noise can drastically reduce the quality of the recording and increase the time taken to transcribe.
  • Make sure you use a recorder that has a facility for transferring files to a PC
  • Use a file format that is compressed (see my article Digital File Types for Audio Transcription, so that it can be transferred over the internet to your transcriptionist
  • Check your recorder is recording before you start the group!
  • Do not serve food while recording the group as the noises of eating will obscure participants’ speech.

Penguin Transcription ( ), part of Penguin Office Services, offers an affordable transcription service by tailoring each quote to the exact requirements of the client. The more information the client can provide us with, and the better the quality of the recording for transcription, the more affordable the transcription service will be.

Why not visit our site and fill in an enquiry form at to receive a quote for your transcription requirements.

This article is copyright, Anne Hickley, 2007.


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