Focus Group Transcription Services

Our standard focus group transcription rates are shown in the table below, but please note that this rate will be reduced slightly if you do NOT want the individual participants identified. We will try to identify participants as standard, but if you don’t require this please let us know. This will save some time. Each time the speaker changes we will note this, but we will not put in any attempts at distinguishing who is speaking, with the exception of the moderator.

Meeting, Round table or Focus Group transcription Price per Audio Minute
Standard rate £2.00-2.50 depending on numbers of people etc.
Discounted focus group transcription rate for universities, students, institutions and charities £1.80-£2.30 depending on numbers of people etc.
Please note: This only applies to good quality digital recordings – assuming clear recording with minimal background noise and no strong accents, with intelligent verbatim transcription. Please see the information on transcription times and type for more information on this.

Recording focus group transcriptions

Like any other type of transcription with more than three voices, such as meetings and round table discussions, focus group transcription recordings are particularly challenging and will take longer to transcribe than interviews. You can make your recordings more accurate by following the advice below:

Before the focus group

bullet point If you’re planning to provide refreshments, arrange to have the food before or after the discussion, as the noise of eating can obscure the participants’ speech.
bullet point Check with the participants that they do not mind being recorded for later transcription. Do this well in advance, and have a back-up plan or policy ready if anyone objects.
bullet point Do make sure you have a good enough recording system with external microphones. Internal mikes are only suitable for dictation, not focus group transcription; these are designed to be held close to the mouth for one person to record dictation into. For a focus group you will need a system with external microphones, ideally one per participant. If that’s not practical then one good quality microphone at the very least, and preferably two or three. A good quality recording will lead to a more affordable and better focus group transcription service, If you are making a digital recording then a dss file type is ideal (though by no means essential) as it is specially produced for speech and is also compact, so easy to send over the internet. For more information on file types including dss, wav and a selection of others, see our article on digital file types
bullet point Assuming you are using digital recording (strongly recommended as the quality is much better), use a file format that is compressed (see our our article on digital file types), so that it can be easily transferred over the internet to us.

Image of a focus group taking place, awaiting focus group transcription

Conducting the focus group for transcription

bullet point Make sure the group is meeting in a quiet, self-contained room with no distractions. Background noise can drastically reduce the quality of the recording and increase the time taken to produce the focus group transcription.
bullet point Check your recorder is recording before you start the group! We can’t make a transcription of a blank file!
bullet point Lay down the ground rules at the beginning of the session, including reminding participants not to talk over each other as this will mean we can’t hear clearly when we’re transcribing the recording for you later. Don’t be afraid to remind them of this during the discussion, as when people get passionate, excited or angry they will talk over each other! This is the time to give all introductory information, such as what you are researching and why, before you turn the recorder on, unless you want it transcribed. This will save on recording time. Or you can just tell us where on the recording to start. Sometimes you won’t need to know who’s speaking, so long as each time a new person speaks this is indicated on the transcript. This will be cheaper as we then don’t have to take time to distinguish the different voices, so it’s worth considering in advance whether you need the information on who’s speaking at any particular time.
bullet point If it is important to know who is talking then you will ideally not have more than five people of the same sex or eight people altogether, unless their voices or accents are very distinctive. If you need to have the different speakers identified in the transcription ask each person to introduce him/herself. Make sure this is more than just saying their name. For example, ask for a name, job, where they live, who else lives with them and their favourite food. The point is that the transcriptionist has a chance to get a ‘handle’ on the different voices before the meeting starts. It also helps to break the ice. If you have a large group, ask each person to state their name every time they make a comment, or alternatively thank them by name for every contribution, to help us identify participants.
bullet point It’s hard to strike the perfect balance between getting all the information and letting a true discussion develop. If the purpose of the group is to develop a discussion e.g. a group of company directors discussing government policy or a group of scientists giving opinions on your company’s latest product, then you won’t want to be continuously interjecting to remind them not to talk over each other, but if your primary reason for using a focus group rather than one-to-one interviews is financial e.g. market research, then the primary goal is probably to get opinions from as many people as possible and an in-depth discussion is not really the aim. In this case you can be firmer with moderating the group, bearing in mind the later focus group transcription and importance of not having too many voices speaking over each other.
bullet point If it’s important to stick to a discussion plan then don’t be afraid to gently reign people in if they go off track e.g. ‘That’s a very interesting point, but what we’re really discussing here is the taste; we will be discussing that later on.’

After the group – preparing for focus group transcription

bullet point Make a list of all the names (with correct spellings) and genders, and other relevant info e.g. Dr Sandy Shaw, Blogs Hospital NHS Trust, Qualified 10 years – Female. Give this list to the transcriber along with the names of the moderator and anyone else who is present and makes any comment e.g. someone who’s helped to organise the group or is participating in the research.
bullet point Make sure you tell your transcriptionist exactly what you want from your focus group transcription e.g. verbatim or intelligent verbatim transcription. Please see our Transcription Type page on the website for further information.


Anne Hickley has been running Penguin Transcription and Penguin Office Services since 2003. She is PhD qualified and has worked for a wide range of organisations, from large multinationals to small businesses, before starting her own businesses.