Video: Running Focus Groups

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Focus groups are a form of qualitative research in which the researcher generates the data through an open, but directed, discussion with a small group of participants.

In this video – which you can watch for free by clicking here —  qualitative researcher Carol McNaughton Nicholls discusses but the behind-the-scenes aspects of running a focus group and is show actually leading a real-life five-person focus group of young Britons. The video is part of SAGE Research Methods Video , an extensive collection with almost 500 titles and more than 125 hours of total video.

This particular focus group was convened to discuss the best way to announce to rail passengers that a train has been delayed due to a suicide. The messages have to balance the concerns of riders for their own itinerary, the desire to know why the train is delayed, the concern they will feel for another human being, and all without creating an incentive for ‘imitative behavior’ for others that might be considering suicide.

Before showing the group, Nicholls outlines the basics of focus groups, pointing out, for example, the importance of talk through the ‘rules of engagement’ with participants, doing prep work on the physical location of the interview area, and of using your own body language when sometimes words would interrupt the group’s flow.

Nicholls has been working in the research industry for 15 years and currently works at Truth, a commercial strategic agency. At the tail end of the video, she discusses what it’s like to be a working social scientist at an agency.

SAGE Video offerings are close captioned but also include a searchable transcript that’s clickable to a specific point in the video. The videos also include citation information and you can create your own clips from the longer video. You can share the clips? via e-mail or social media, save to a playlist, and speed up or slow down play.

Focus group

Carol McNaughton Nicholls offers potential messages to the focus group for them to discuss and dissect.

To view this particular video, for free, click here.

For more about SAGE Video Research Methods Videoclick here.

One thought on “Video: Running Focus Groups

  1. Having observed this example, I’m sort of confused about the difference between a group interview and a focus group, and the relative amount of time the participants should be interacting vs. just listening to the facilitator/moderator “set up” a question. I realize that this is not supposed to represent an actual focus group session, as it’s meant to be instructive, but it just seems like it was difficult to get much of a sense of the participants speaking and interaction because so much of it was the facilitator.

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