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The Focus Group

The Focus Group Home

A focus group interview is an interview with a small group of people on a specific topic. Groups typically consist of six to eight people who participate in the interview for 90 to 120 minutes. Group discussions are used for various reasons. Pollock prefers them to single interviews because "studying the attitudes, opinions and practices of human beings in artificial isolation from the contexts in which they occur should be avoided" (1955, p.34). Other important feature of group discussion is that corrections by the group concerning views that are not correct, not socially shared, or extreme are available as means for validating statements and views. Since Focus groups involve interactions between the participants, it is important to ask the right questions. We help you get into the role of a perfect moderator or observer by preparing for you an accurate and comprehensive questionnaire for such interviews.

How to conduct Focus Groups

The number of group interviews you should conduct is based on your research question and on the count of different population subgroups required. Normally, it is recommended that it is more appropriate to work with strangers instead of groups of friends or people who know each other. This is due to the reason that the level of things taken for granted, which remain implicit tends to be higher in groups which share an acquaintance with each other. Further, you should begin with groups as heterogeneous as possible and then run a second set of groups that are more homogeneous.

Type of Focus Group conducted

There can be many types of focus group interviews. The most common being the ones where there is one moderator, who acts as the observer also. Another type can be where there are two moderators, who intentionally raise two different viewpoints to gather knowledge about the contrasting views of the group members. There can be two focus groups being studied at the same time, where one group watches and reacts to the discussion of the other group. In another scenario, a member of the group can be asked to act as the moderator temporarily. The researcher here acts only as the observer, noting the behaviour of the group members. The type of focus group and the method depends on the field of research and the problem being addressed.

Research process (Qualitative Research) and Focus Groups

Focus groups begin from an interface point of view and intend to show how an issue is constructed and changed while the group discusses this issue. Sampling is generally directed towards diversity of the members of the various groups in a study. The analysis of the data is pragmatic with use of statements, rather than extensive interpretations, as the focus of the analysis.

Focus groups are extensively used in marketing and media research. Importance is laid on the interactive aspect of the data collection. The key advantage of focus groups is the "explicit use of group interaction to produce data and insights that would be less accessible without the interaction found in a group" (Morgan, 1988, p.12). Many times, Focus groups are used as an individual method of research or in combination with other methods including surveys, observations and interviews.