For my thesis, I want to refer to interviewees talking for one occasion. The interview was not one-on-one, but conducted in a focus group. A focus group is a group interview without requiring consensus, where the group typically consists of 6 to 10 interviewees.

An example makes it much clearer, so here's a fictional transcript of a focus group:

A: Hello, what are your names?
B: My name is B.
C: My name is C.
D: And my name is D.
A: Next question, what is your opinion about SE?
B: Well, that asks for a long answer. I'm mostly positive. Some things can be better though.

My goal is to refer to one sentence here, like the last long one by B, both directly like on occasion X, B said that ..., but also abstractly like B talked on 45 of 399 occasions, where occasion[s] is replaced with the word I'm looking for.

It can't be called one sentence as such, because it consists of multiple sentences. Calling it a citation also doesn't cover it completely, neither does case or event. Occasion comes closest, but results in extra explanation, because occasion can mean a lot of things.

Does anybody know the academic term used for this?

  • 1
    Welcome to English Language & Usage Stack Exchange.   I don't understand.  If it's an interview, and you're not referring to sentences, wouldn't the interviewee always talk on exactly half of the "occasions"?  If we stipulate that the interviewer got the last word, wouldn't B always have talked on 199 of 399 occasions?  And, if so, what information are you really trying to communicate? Jun 6, 2016 at 11:58
  • 1
    When you're asking for a word, information on how it will be used is a necessary part of the question.   I advise you to edit your question with the information from the above comment. Jun 6, 2016 at 12:09
  • 1
    Perhaps "topic(s)" (a subject of conversation or discussion)
    – Graffito
    Jun 6, 2016 at 12:31
  • 1
    One reason for some of the misunderstanding in your original Q. may be that you used the singular possessive form "interviewee's" in 2 places, instead of the plural form "interviewees". I've corrected this - and I hope that is what you intend.
    – TrevorD
    Jun 6, 2016 at 14:43
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    It's not clear to me whether you mean (1) B spoke a total of 399 times, and on 45 of that occasions he mentioned XYZ; or (2) The number of times that anyone spoke was 399 in total; and 45 of those times were B speaking & 354 times were other people speaking.
    – TrevorD
    Jun 6, 2016 at 14:46

3 Answers 3


Since the "occasions" are specifically referring to times when a question was asked and answered, I would think that you can replace occasion with either

"question" (M-W)

an act or instance of asking


"inquiry" (M-W)

a request for information

  • the interviewee is prompted to speak by your questions. When you refer to the talking performed by the interviewee, it is in the form of a

response (dictionary.com)

an answer or reply, as in words or in some action.

Therefore, the resultant sentence would read

B responded to 45 of 399 inquiries/questions


Although you could consider “contributions,” for participants are arguably contributing/making contributions to the focus group each time/occasion they say something, I would reserve “contribution” to refer to, describe, and evaluate their total, overall contribution (or lack thereof) to the group, and refer to each individual occasion as an “utterance”; …“statement” ; … or “remark”, with "remark" being, in my non-academic opinion, the most idiomatic of the three to use in the blanks in your examples:

"in remark X, B said that ..."
"B made 45 of [the] 399 remarks."

Definition of utterance (from Merriam-Webster)
1 : something uttered; especially : an oral or written statement : a stated or published expression

Definition of statement (from Merriam-Webster)
1 : something stated: as
a: a single declaration or remark : assertion

Definition of remark [countable noun] (from *Oxford Learner’s Dictionary)
something that you say or write which expresses an opinion, a thought, etc. about somebody/something


I think "comment" would work perfectly here.

1. a remark, observation, or criticism

  • 1
    "comment" is the commonly used phrase in my experience. Add a reference/definition and I'll +1.
    – Waylan
    Jun 6, 2016 at 19:39
  • @Waylan There you go
    – Kevin
    Jun 6, 2016 at 20:03

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