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5. Focus groups

The use of focus groups is sometimes used when it is better to obtain information from a group rather than individuals.

Group interviews can be used when:

  1. Limited resources (time, manpower, finances)
  2. The phenomena being researched requires a collective discussion in order to understand the circumstances, behaviour or opinions
  3. Greater insights may be developed of the group dynamic - or cause and consequence

Characteristics of a focus group:

  1. Recommended size of the sample group is 6 - 10 people as smaller groups may limit the potential on the amount of information collected, and more may make it difficult for all participants to participate and interact and for the interviewer to be able to make sense of the information given
  2. Several focus groups should be used in order to get a more objective and macro view of the investigation. i.e. focussing on one group may give you idiosyncratic results. The use of several groups will add to the breadth and depth of information. A minimum of three focus groups is recommended for best practice approaches
  3. Members of the focus group should have something in common which is important to the investigation
  4. Groups can either be put together or existing groups - it is always useful to be mindful of the group dynamics of both situations

The aim of the focus group is to make use of participants' feelings, perceptions and opinions

This method requires the researcher to use a range of skills:

  1. group skills
  2. facilitating
  3. moderating
  4. listening/observing
  5. analysis