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Page history last edited by PBworks 14 years, 4 months ago



(i would like the topic to link with the topics underneath, but i don't know how to)


  1. Insight not Rules
  2. Social not Individual






The special features of focus groups”

In diversities of qualitative research, focus group owns some differences from other survey methodologies.

1. Insight not Rules

Focus group can provide trustworthy naturalistic data that also lead to important insights about human behaviors by allowing all participants to say anything they would like in front of the whole group. Meanwhile, researchers listen not only for the content of discussions but observe something beyond talking, such as tone and emotions which help them to learn or confirm not just the facts but the meaning behind the facts.



2. Social not Individual


In a focus group session, conversation among participants results in data that are “talk.” In this way, focus groups elicit information that paints a portrait of combined local perspectives because the research may seek way to fit all together. It is possible to gauge a groups’ overall reaction to educational materials, but not on an individual basis.


3. Homogenous not Diverse

Focus group researchers select and invite 20-25 people with similar characteristics to a single session. The goal is to fill the room with a minimum of 10-12 participants that are similar (Krueger and Casey, 2000) which is supposed to increase the quality of the data.



4. Flexible not standardized

During the course of a two-hour session, we can see a natural conversation will be produced because individuals are allowed to laugh, tell personal stories, revisit an earlier questions, disagree with other… researcher only need to lead the conversation on track by applying his prepared interview guide. Actually, a well-designed guide encourages group members to relax, open up, think deeply, and consider alternatives.


5. Warm not Hot

Focus groups do not produce reliable data on topics that produce extremely strong feelings (Krueger and Casey, 2000). Because conversation in many cultures avoids conflict some topics, which are too sensitive will not be discussed thoroughly.


6. Words not Numbers


Focus groups rely upon words spoken by participants. A report based on focus groups will feature patterns formed by words, called themes or perspectives. Researchers must use specific methods to analyze patterns in spoken language (Creswell, 1998).

Focus groups method isn’t meant to create generalizations of this type and its procedures offer none of the protections that would permit them to do so (Fern, 2001). Numerical analysis is not a preferred technique. In fact, it is inappropriate to report a result of focus groups by percentage.



Creswell, J. W. 1998. Qualitative Inquiry and Research Design: Choosing Among Five Traditions. Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Sage.


Fern, E.F. 2001. Advanced Focus Group Research. Thousand Oaks, Calif: Sage.


Krueger, R. A., and M. A. Casey 2000. Focus groups: A Practical Guide for Applied Research (3rd edition.) Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Sage.



    • The elements of focus groups

(I tried to insert a table but i don't know how to insert a table here, its' different from what i used to see, another problem is i tried to make the topic bolded, but i failed)


Element Focus groups

Format Group session

Size 8-12 per session; invite twice as many

Length 1.5 to 2 hours

Number of sessions Varies; should be more than 1

Participants 1. Selected; by invitation only

2. Similar characteristics

Forms of data 1. Conversation, including

2. Silences (words and3. Body language

Data collection 1. Audiotape

2. Transcribe

Moderator 1. Flexible yet focused

2. Uses interview guide; modify based on early sessions

Formats for reporting 1. Selected quotations

2. Analysis of repeated themes

Committee on Human Subjects Submit as for other social research


Grudens-Schuck, N. , Lundy,B. A., and Larson, K., May 2004 focus group Fundamentals Iowa State University Extension. Retrieved April 5, 2006 from:






The strength of focus groups


1. The Authority Role Of The Moderator

The face-to-face involvement of a qualified moderator can ensure the conversation always on track, and encourage participants’ engagement without one individual dominating the meeting.


2. The Ability Of Group Participants To Interact With Each Other

When participate are stimulated to discuss, the group dynamics can generate new thinking about a topic which will result in a much more in-depth discussion.



3. The Dynamic Nature Of The Methodology

Due to the dynamic environment the moderator can modify the topics, which are prepared before the session to make the topic more suitable for the purpose.


4. The Ability To Involve The Client Personnel In The Research Process

In traditional focus groups it is possible for the client personnel to watch the whole discussion behind a one-way mirror. The client personnel can provide their thinking to moderator, which may help moderator better handle the direction of talking, and improve the quality of output.


5. The Capability To Utilize Non-Verbal Behavior As A Research Input

The expression, attitude of individual, the intensity of the conversation etc. can be apperceived by the researcher, which can modify the moderator’s decision and also can be counted in the research result.


6. The Level Of Participant Involvement In The Research

Because every participant is under observation of moderator and everybody know the process has been videotaped, it is easy to make participants fully engaged even during the time they don’t talk.


7. The Greater Security Associated With Traditional Focus Group Research –

The possibility to screen each participant let researcher know who have been involved in making it certain the whole process is without some undesirable people

(from your competition) watching.




Focus groups are not the optimal technique for all research situation, the criticisms below are always been mentioned by the people who promote some other qualitative research methods.


1.Focus Groups Tend To Become Influenced By One or Two Dominant People In The Session Thus Making the Output Very Biased

The moderator plays a very essential role in handling the situation, but if the moderator is not experienced enough, it is very easy to occur that the whole discussion has been dominant by a few people.


2.Focus Groups Are Not As Effective As IDI’s In Dealing With Sensitive Topics

It is very difficult to have the participants share their real feelings of some sensitive topics publicly, which will influence the output data.


3. Focus Group Output Is Not Projectable

Though if a great deal of consistency in the results from a series of focus groups have been identified and it is very likely that the results from these sessions probably can represent a larger number of people however we can’t expect focus groups to be project able in the same way as quantitative study findings can be.

Furthermore actually traditional focus groups only be held in a few cite, unlike some internet and telephone focus groups which could be organized in various situation without limitation of time and location. This also makes data from focus groups less representative of the total universe.


4. Focus Groups Are A Very Artificial Environment Which Can Influence The Responses That Are Generated **

This is frequently the argument that ethnographers will use when recommending their methodology versus focus groups. Because research use ethnographic technique, they will situate themselves in the real environment this is unreachable for focus groups. In focus groups people are collected in a meeting room thus they might behave differently from how do they behave when they are not watched and it will affect the quality of research result.


(it is so strange that something i want to make bolded they don't something they do while i didn't expect them to be, mandy, do you mind to let me know or just change it from your computer, its very slow in mine since i used proxy here)


Group plus. June 2003. retrieved April 5, 2006 from: http://www.groupsplus.com/pages/Respect3.htm

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