I’ve done more focus groups in the last 18 months than I did in the previous 5 years. It’s been a steepish learning curve and one of the first things I realised was that I really hate listening back to hours of me moderating via Dictaphone for both analysis purposes and to find some good quotes for the debrief.
Then it dawned on me that since my clients were paying for my time (as I laboriously rewinded the tape yet again, typing the best bits out at 25wpm), it would actually be cheaper for them to pay a professional transcription agency to knock out transcripts of my groups at 100wpm. Everyone was a winner.
In fact, I came out of it even better as it turns out that transcripts are a brilliant learning tool. While you’re wincing at the sound of your own voice on the tape and typing as fast as you can you don’t really pause to wonder if you worded that question right or should have left that lady to talk for a bit longer. But looking though a nicely laid out transcript the week after the groups your less-than-brilliant moments are there in black and white.
Through my transcripts I’ve identified several little bad moderating habits to be nipped in the bud – and transcripts are dead handy (in a word doc edit-find kind of way) when you suddenly need a quote about product guarantees and don’t want to wade through nine hours of tape to find it.
I honestly believe that all researchers should be getting professional transcripts of their groups done occasionally simply to see where they might be going wrong or right. Or are you all doing that anyway and I’m just late to the party?