Focus Group Data Preparation

This guide will walk through data preparation tips for focus group data. For tips on transcription or formatting, please reference the beginning of our Interview Data Preparation Guide.


Typically, there are two options for formatting your focus group data depending on: 

1. Needing to explore and compare differences between individuals in their focus group

2. You do not need to explore differences between participants in their focus group, but you want to be able to compare and explore differences between various focus groups as a whole


Need to Compare Differences Between Participants in a Focus Group Transcript

If you are interested in exploring or comparing individual-level differences between participants within a focus group transcript (through the use of “Descriptors”), you have a couple options to choose from. For example, if you had only one focus group with a mixture of men and women who drink coffee and you wanted to compare differences between men and women.

Note: These steps are necessary because descriptors attach to an individual document/media, rather than an excerpt. For more information on descriptors, see our Descriptor Guide.

Option 1: Make copies of the transcript to represent each person in the focus group. For example, if 4 people were in the focus group you would have a copy of the transcript for each of them and perhaps label them: FocusGroup A_Participant 1; FocusGroup A_Participant 2; FocusGroup A_Participant 3; FocusGroup_Participant 4.

You would then code only Participant A’s responses within Participant A’s copy of the transcript, and so on.


Option 2: You can create codes to represent categories that would typically be descriptors and assign them to the individual excerpts throughout the focus group. For example, I would create a code for “women” and a code for “men” and assign that code on each excerpt that I coded.

Note: This method is also helpful if you have video data (or other data) where it is harder or not feasible to make multiple copies.

With this method, you can still compare differences between participants using the Code Co-Occurrence Chart and by filtering in the Excerpts Workspace. 


Need to Compare Differences Between Various Focus Groups as a Whole 

If you are interested in analyzing your focus group as a homogenous group—meaning you are not interested in analyzing differences between individuals within each focus group—you can prepare your document as you would an individual interview and assign a descriptor profile to each document (if desired).

This is ideal when your focus groups were primarily designed to generate discussion and ideas about an issue, and when individual differences between focus group members are less significant to your study. It is also useful when you want to relate or compare various focus groups as a whole.