Focus Groups

What are focus groups?

Focus groups are widely used in the social sciences as well as in fields such as marketing as a way to get a group of people to discuss an issue in-depth. Focus groups can be thought of as a type of group interview in which participants are encouraged to enter into conversation with each other on topics chosen by (and guided by) a facilitator.

Why should I run a focus group?

Focus groups enable you to access rich qualitative data about your resource.  Focus groups are often conducted in addition to other qualitative data gathering methods such as interviews and questionnaires, and can be used to put the results of other data gathering efforts in context.  If you have created a resource, you can use focus groups to see how your resource is being used, how your target audience rates your resource, how easy or difficult they find it to use, how easy it is to navigate to and through your resource’s websit

How do I organise a focus group?

Focus group sessions should be as relaxed as possible.  You should provide comfortable surroundings, and encourage participants to talk to one another (rather than to you).  Make sure you budget enough time to discuss the issues you want to cover, and try not to cover too much in one session.

How do I recruit participants?

Focus groups: A short bibliography

Focus groups: Methodology

Adams, A. B., A (2002). 'Digital Libraries in Academia: Challenges and Changes', Digital Libraries: People, Knowledge, and Technology. Berlin/Heidelberg, Springer. 2555: 392-403.

Agar, M. and J. MacDonald (1995). 'Focus groups and ethnography', Human Organization 54(1): 78-86.

Barbour, R. S. and J. Kitzinger (1999). Developing focus group research: politics, theory and practice, Sage.

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