Focus Group Transcripts

To import a focus group transcript to MAXQDA, select Focus Group Transcripts in the Import tab. Alternatively, this function is available in the context menu at the top level of the “Document System”. The transcript can be stored in all MAXQDA readable text formats, which include DOC/X, ODT, RTF and TXT.

Import focus group transcripts
  • Each contribution begins in a new paragraph. At the beginning of each contribution the name of the participant appears, followed by a colon. Using bold type or special fonts for the names will not affect the import process, however upper and lowercase will be taken into account. Names like “Lisa B.” or “Gábor” with spaces and special characters are not a problem when importing. The subsequent text will be coded with the names of the participants, up to the point where the next speaker is indicated.
  • MAXQDA will tolerate a space that is accidentally set before a name or in front of a colon, and treats the associated names to be identical.
  • The names of the participants that appear before the colon can be a maximum of 63 characters in length.
  • Sections of text at the beginning of the transcript (in which no colon occurs within 63 characters) will not be coded. This provides the opportunity for you to include a title and general information about the focus group for easy recognition.
  • Timestamps originating from the transcription software F4 or F5 will be treated as usual: MAXQDA will ask if you wish to associate the corresponding audio/video file with the transcript. The timestamps will be integrated into the MAXQDA project and removed from the text.

Let’s take the following interview with multiple participants as an example:

Moderator: So would you say you are actually insecure job-wise – or is it just something that comes from a bit of negativity at the moment?

Lucas: Actually I think my job is actually safe because they would find it hard to replace me – not just saying that but it’s true.  And – and they do try to improve morale and there’s plenty of awards they dish out for employee of the month etc.  That’s sort of text book stuff though do you think?

Moderator: Anyone else with anything to say about their own careers or current employment anyway?

Miles: I’m an artist – just commercial – but even a commercial artist hasn’t got much job security.  But I’m lucky to have a job at all.  Don’t knock it.  – Most of the people I graduated with are still messing around looking for something permanent or retraining or doing nothing at all.

Lisa: Yes I am carer.  I work for XXX home care staff agency.  I am not really happy with that.  I tried to get permanent job with Nursing homes, but my papers – they needed NVQ, I have right experience you know but.  So the agency not so well paid but its job so I must take.  The council I think they pay agency £35 an hour for me.  I only get 8.  I would like leave but cannot maybe when I get proper job. 

Following a successful import, MAXQDA opens the transcript immediately in the “Document Browser”, and from the coding stripes in the margin you can see that the speech contributions have already been coded. During the import MAXQDA creates a new document in the “Document System” with the filename of the transcript. This document has its own symbol, which allows you to immediately recognize that it relates to a focus group. Below the document, the participants of are listed individually, with the number at the end of the line indicating the number of contributions. The participants are attached to their transcripts. If you move the document, the participants will move with it. Only the order of participants can be adjusted with the mouse. Like other documents, focus groups documents can be assigned to a document group or set.

MAXQDA view after importing a focus group transcript [must be able to view Document System, Code System and Document Browser with the above transcript]

In the “Code System” you will see a very similar listing: At the top of the Code System a code with the name of the imported data will appear, with the participants listed as subcodes, and the same  symbol as in the “Document System”. Participant codes and the participants in the document are attached: If you change the order of the participants or their names in the Code System, their order will also change in the Document System, and vice versa. This also applies when a focus group transcript is deleted: If you remove a transcript from the “Document System”, the corresponding code and its subcodes will be deleted from the “Code System”.

The fact that the participants are available both in the "Document System" and in the "Code System” opens up extensive possibilities for the analysis, as the participants can be activated as independent codes and as document subsets.

Tip: After importing the transcript you should check the names of the participants for typographical errors. This will avoid frustration later, in the case that the same person appears twice under different names because the name was written or spelled differently. Since the participant code cannot be deleted, you would have to make the appropriate modifications in a word processing program and then import the transcript again.

When you import multiple transcripts, a unique code will be assigned to each focus group along with subcodes for the respective participants. The top-level codes can be moved within the same Code System, but the participant codes are firmly attached to their top-level code, and their order can be modified only under this top-level code.

Tip: The automatic coding function for participants may be useful for other types of documents in which multiple individuals interact, for example forum discussions or comments on YouTube videos.

Converting an already imported text into a focus group transcript

Sometimes you realize that it would have been better to import a text as a focus group transcript into MAXQDA after you have already imported and coded it as a normal text document. In this case you can use the function Convert Text>Insert Displayed Text as a Focus Group Transcript, which is available in the Import Tab. First, open the relevant document and then start the function. MAXQDA will insert a copy of the text as a focus group document:

  • The participants contributions will be coded automatically and corresponding codes for each participant will be created in the „Code System“ window.
  • MAXQDA will copy all existing coding information and memos into the newly created document, also the variable values and the summaries.
  • A linked media file will be linked to the new document, too.
  • The links in or on the document will not be transferred.

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