Capturing Focus Group Data

November 10, 2014 (old blog)

Focus groups may seem like a relatively straight-forward method of data collection but there are many challenges that researcher’s experience when recruiting participants, and collecting and analyzing data.

Traditionally, qualitative data has been audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim by a professional transcriptionist – a process that can be time-consuming and frustrating, and can potentially result in inaccurate data. In 2009, Scott et al. published a paper discussing the use of court reporters in lieu of the traditional method to capture focus group data.

For our focus groups, we decided to use a court reporter (http://www.snowscourtreporting.com/) for real-time data transcription, and the benefits listed by Scott et al. have come to fruition!

Here’s a few:

  1. As the moderator, I am able to fully concentrate my time and energy on moderating the discussion.
  1. Turnaround for the transcripts is unbelievably quick (2-3 business days); the efficiency of this process has allowed me to analyze data prior to conducting the next scheduled focus group. Thus, an important tenet of qualitative research (concurrent data collection and analysis) can be adhered to, which may be unlikely with audio-recorded data (subsequenttranscription may take up to 15 days after the group).
  1. The data is extremely accurate (Yes, I checked; I audio-recorded the first meeting and randomly selected 10% of the transcript to audit).

Have I convinced you yet?

References

Scott SD, Sharpe H, O’Leary K, Dehaeck U, Hindmarsh K, Moore JG, Osmond MH. Court reporters: A viable solution for the challenges of focus group data collection? Qualitative Health Research. 2009;19:140-146. [http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19074635]

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