How to plan it?
While planning the focus group research, it is important to:
- Have a well-framed research question. Defining the research question will help determine what kinds of information should be obtained (i.e., specific questions to pose during the group session) and from whom this information should be obtained (i.e., population of interest).
- Determine if the topic of discussion requires special expertise, experience or unique knowledge. If so respondents that have those characteristics should be selected. If not, random sampling should be considered.
- Choose the specific number of groups to include and how they will be constituted. This should be a function of the number of distinct types of individuals and the number of mixtures of individuals of interest to the research. It is also important to take into account the likely dynamic of a particular combination of individuals; for instance, care should be taken in mixing groups across cultures. Unless it is the study goal, homogeneity should be sought when forming groups, for instance in terms of occupation, education level, age, and gender or family characteristics.
- Make sure that potential participants know what is involved in the focus group and over-recruitment. It is important to make sure that clear information is provided to the participants regarding the purpose of the focus group, payment or other incentives (if applicable), where and when the session will take place. Several reminders should be issued, including a phone call the day before the session itself.
- Create an interview guide and practice. This should include open-ended questions about the topics of interest, with more general questions raised first and more specific issues raised later. Questions should be presented in a context with consistent and sufficient background information. Introduction to the session, including the rules to running it, and closing comments should be written in advance.
- Prepare the materials that will be use during the session. This may include other methods of collecting qualitative and/or quantitative data (e.g., questionnaires). It is important to check and double-check the recording equipment before every group and to have refreshments, writing materials for the moderator and the participants, informed consent forms and name badges.
- Set up the room and the recording equipment in advance.