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[Catherine, Dr. Dawson] Introduction to Research M(Bookos.org)

[Catherine, Dr. Dawson] Introduction to Research M(Bookos.org)

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As moderator you must spend some time helping participants to

relax. In all focus groups you need to explain the purpose of the

group, what is expected of participants and what will happen to

the results. Negotiate a length for the discussion and ask that

everyone respects this as it can be very disruptive having people

come in late, or leave early. Usually one and a half hours is an

ideal length, although some focus groups may last a lot longer.

79

Assure the participants

about anonymity and confi-

dentiality, asking also that

they respect this and do not

pass on what has been said

in the group to third parties.

You may find it useful to

produce and distribute a

Code of Ethics (see Chapter

13).

Asking questions

General, easy to answer

questions should be asked

first. Don’t expect any type of personal disclosure early in the

group. As moderator, listen carefully to everything people say,

acknowledging that you are listening by making good eye contact

and taking notes regarding issues to which you may return later.

Make sure that no one person dominates the discussion as this

will influence your data.

Some moderators prefer touse a list of questions as their interview

schedule, whereas others prefer to use a list of topics (see Chapter

7 for more information on developing an interview schedule). The

overall aim is a free-flowing discussion within the subject area,

and once this happens the input from the moderator may be

considerably less than it would be in a one-to-one interview.

Seeking responses

In focus groups you need to try to get as many opinions as

possible. You will find that in most focus groups, most people will

TIP

Thebest waytobecomea
successfulmoderatoristhrough
experienceandpractice.Ifpossible,
try tositinonafocusgrouprunby
anexperiencedmoderator.Onceyou
havedonethis,holdyourownpilot
focusgroup,eitherwithfriendsor
actualresearchparticipants.You
mightfinditusefultovisuallyrecord
thisfocusgroupsothatyoucan
assessyourbodylanguage,seehow
youdealwithawkwardsituations,
analysehow youaskquestions,and
soon.Don’tbedisappointedifyour
firstfewgroupsdonotgoaccording
toplan.Eventhemostexperienced
moderatorshavebaddays.

80 Chapter 8 . How to Conduct Focus Groups

talk some of the time, although to varying degrees. In some

groups, some people may need gentle persuasion to make a

contribution. You have to use your discretion about how much

you do this as there might be occasions when somebody is

unwilling or too nervous to contribute.

You often find that, even though you have negotiated a time,

people enjoy the discussion and want to continue, although at this

stage you must make it clear that people can leave, if they wish.

Often, some of the most useful and pertinent information is given

once the ‘official’ time is over. Also, you will find that people talk

to you on an individual basis after the group has finished,

especially those who might have been nervous contributing in a

group setting. It is useful to take a notepad and jot down these

conversations as soon as possible after the contact as the

information might be relevant to your research.

Finishing the focus group

When you have finished your focus group, thank the participants

for taking part and leave a contact name and number in case they

wish to follow up anyof the issues that have been raised during the

discussion.It’sgoodpracticetooffer acopyofthereporttoanybody

who wants one. However, this might not be practical if the final

report istobe an undergraduate dissertation.You could explain this

to the participants and hope that they understand, or you could

offer to produce a summary report which you can send to them.

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