The Pitfalls and Promise of Focus Groups as a Data Collection Method
AffiliationUniv Arizona, Sch Govt & Publ Policy, Polit Sci & Latin Amer Studies
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherSAGE PUBLICATIONS INC
CitationThe Pitfalls and Promise of Focus Groups as a Data Collection Method 2015, 45 (2):231 Sociological Methods & Research
JournalSociological Methods & Research
Rights© The Author(s) 2015.
Collection InformationThis item from the UA Faculty Publications collection is made available by the University of Arizona with support from the University of Arizona Libraries. If you have questions, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
AbstractDespite their long trajectory in the social sciences, few systematic works analyze how often and for what purposes focus groups appear in published works. This study fills this gap by undertaking a meta-analysis of focus group use over the last 10 years. It makes several contributions to our understanding of when and why focus groups are used in the social sciences. First, the study explains that focus groups generate data at three units of analysis, namely, the individual, the group, and the interaction. Although most researchers rely upon the individual unit of analysis, the method’s comparative advantage lies in the group and interactive units. Second, it reveals strong affinities between each unit of analysis and the primary motivation for using focus groups as a data collection method. The individual unit of analysis is appropriate for triangulation; the group unit is appropriate as a pretest; and the interactive unit is appropriate for exploration. Finally, it offers a set of guidelines that researchers should adopt when presenting focus groups as part of their research design. Researchers should, first, state the main purpose of the focus group in a research design; second, identify the primary unit of analysis exploited; and finally, list the questions used to collect data in the focus group.
NoteOnline First Version of Record - Feb. 5, 2015 / Version of Record Apr. 10, 2016 / SAGE Green Route - Once the article has been accepted for publication, you may post the accepted version (version 2) of the article on your own personal website, your department’s website or the repository of your institution without any restrictions.
VersionFinal accepted manuscript