Tips for Great Recordings and Transcripts
Poor recordings are challenging and can be prevented by testing your equipment before the start of a recording. Record a quick 30 second warm up question, press rewind and listen making sure you have captured the best audio possible.
Check for optimal placement of the microphone. The ideal distance would be a hand’s distance away from the interviewee. With group setting in a large room, placement of several individual mics around the table would greatly improve the transcript quality.
Look for any background sounds that may arise during the recording, i.e. air conditioners have a humming noise that can make it very difficult to hear or people passing in the hallway
Other than digital recordings, standard tapes are the best media for recording, with micro cassettes producing the poorest audio quality.
In focus group settings, identifying speakers is difficult. What’s most helpful is if the moderator asks everyone to introduce themselves first, saying their name, maybe a brief description about themselves acquainting the transcriptionist with their voices. Once the meeting starts, if the moderator addresses speakers by their name or ask the speakers to say their name before they speak, identifying will be firmed up. Ask participants to speak one at a time.
In all cases, avoid talking over the respondents. It’s their information you want, not your own!
A list of unfamiliar terms, acronyms, names and discussion guide submitted beforehand is very helpful.