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FOCUS GROUPS. What are they. NOT group interviews Focused discussions, small group, physically co-present Used a lot in market research. what are they most useful for. in-depth understanding – WHY Speculation (what you would like?) reaction to proposals, ideas, prototypes group synergy.

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what are they
What are they
  • NOT group interviews
  • Focused discussions, small group, physically co-present
  • Used a lot in market research
what are they most useful for
what are they most useful for
  • in-depth understanding – WHY
  • Speculation (what you would like?)
  • reaction to proposals, ideas, prototypes
  • group synergy
caveats
caveats
  • conceptual/retrospective not actual/activity
  • only what they can and will articulate
  • may be the response in the moment – which may change over time
  • strong personalities are a hazard
  • groupthink
participants
participants
  • Number: 5 to 9
  • Qualities of participants
    • Outspoken enough
    • Homogeneous group, but heterogeneous views
    • Beware of power relations
  • For multiple types of participants need multiple groups
  • Recruitment
    • Paid; ‘professional’
    • As you would recruit other subjects
logistics
logistics
  • 1- to 1 1/2 hours
  • round table, chairs in circle
  • comfortable room, good sightlines, acoustics
  • Food and drink with care – they have to be able to talk!
guiding the discussion
guiding the discussion
  • know your objectives
  • don’t try to do too much – 2-4 major topics is probably all
  • have an outline of how you want to proceed
  • be ready to be flexible if need be – or to reign in the discussion
  • Stick to the time limit
moderator s role
moderator’s role
  • encourage discussion
  • encourage them to talk with one another not you
  • bring in people who aren’t speaking
  • Bring out a variety of viewpoints
  • keep on discussion track w/o stifling
  • allow silence
  • avoid premature closure
moderator cont
Moderator, cont.
  • Ensure safety
  • Listen and regroup as needed
  • Do NOT act as a leader
  • Preferably not connected with the topic
    • However, for some topics, really need someone who understands topic, terminology
  • Use 2 people if possible – one to guide, one to take notes
introducing the process
Introducing the process
  • introduce purpose, sponsorship if applicable
  • Lay out guidelines, e.g. time
  • Be clear on the topic(s) of discussion
  • make introductions
  • Specify that you are interested in thoughts not decisions
recording
Recording
  • videotaping
  • audiotaping
  • note-taker
    • Has to be someone other than moderator
reporting
Reporting
  • fast
  • synthesis of important issues
  • Key quotations useful but NOT a transcription
    • Though use a transcription to create report if at all possible
web based focus groups
Web-based focus groups
  • Method
    • Real time conferencing
    • Asynchronous conferencing
  • benefits:
    • Distant participants
    • Convenient for participants
    • Immediate transcript
  • Difficulties
    • Less synergy
  • All the usual pros and cons of electronic communication
  • Example: http://www.surveycompany.com/onlinesurveys/focusgroup.html
    • [this is not a recommendation; just one you can observe]
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