A focus group can be defined as a group of people with common interests or characteristics who interact with one another by discussing questions or topics supplied by a researcher, acting as a moderator. This type of group interaction generates data and insights about a specific issue that would be less accessible without the dynamics of group discussion. Focus groups are a valuable and widely practised research method within the social sciences for qualitative research, and are also commonly used in market research and by radio or television program evaluators to understand people’s beliefs about a particular topic or program of interest.
The advantage of focus groups is that they provide insights about how people think or feel about issues and why certain opinions are held. They help provide a means of evaluating existing programs and give valuable information for the planning and design of new initiatives. In addition to these points they have high face validity and allow a faster and lower cost method of data collection than individual interviews. They generally require less preparation and are fairly easy to conduct. Researchers can also interact directly with respondents for clarification and follow-up, and analyse respondents’ words verbatim, which allows for deeper understanding and identification of subtle nuances. Focus groups have a flexible format and the results are easier to understand than complex statistical analyses of surveys.
Obtaining accurate and reliable data is paramount to research outcomes, with subtle nuances and insights about participant views found through careful and systematic analysis of the exact language used by participants. Without a verbatim record, the richness and true meaning of what was said is likely to be misinterpreted or forgotten. For valid results, focus group discussion must be recorded and subsequently transcribed verbatim, however as this task is incredibly time consuming, those with a busy schedule are likely to benefit from outsourcing the work to an independent and professional transcription provider such as TTP.
If you are planning to run focus groups for your project and would like to discuss a fast, economical and reliable option for transcription with a company that specialises in multi-speaker audio and has extensive experience within research and academia, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for further information or a quote!