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  3. Research methods
  4. Overview of Research Methods
  5. Focus groups
  6. Reporting

Focus groups

Key aspects when writing and reading the results

The process of reporting the results of a focus group should serve three functions:

  • Communicate useful information to an identifiable audience for a specific purpose
  • Develop a logical description of the research
  • Provide a historic record of findings


The framework of the report should be composed of the key questions that were asked or the big themes that have emerged from the discussion. These serve as an outline for organizing the comments of the participants. Comments could be arranged on a continuum such as degree of support, agreement versus disagreement, or intensity.


When preparing the report, two styles of report could be considered:

The Narrative Report
Uses complete sentences and is augmented with quotes from the focus group.


The Bullet Report
Uses key words and phrases to highlight the critical points. This type of report can be prepared and consumed more quickly.



What should be in the report?

  • A summary describing why the focus groups were conducted and listing the major conclusion and recommendations.
  • A description of the research procedure, including the interview guide with key questions, participants’ recruitment and socio-demographic characteristics and materials used during the group discussion.
  • A description of the results, identifying the key themes and ideas raised during the group discussion and providing examples of participants’ quotes regarding each theme. A possible interpretation of the data should always be provided.
  • Possible limitations and alternative explanations.
  • The transcription of the whole group session (if requested).



What should NOT be in the report?

  • Direct comparisons between groups, particular statistical analysis comparing participants with or without similar characteristics.
  • Complex quantitative data and analysis, without clear justification.
  • Generalization of the results to the larger population.
  • Assertions of cause-effect.
  • Participants identification.



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Methods selection decision aid

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