Research Top Tips

Make a checklist of everything you will need for your focus group discussions: consent forms and enough pens for everyone to sign; information sheets; whiteboard/flip chart pens; recording equipment; refreshments; topic guides and notebook; demographic questionnaires; vouchers or reimbursements; petty cash and receipts for travel costs; materials for tasks.

Arrive at the location well before your participants so you are able to provide a welcome without being busy also organizing chairs, recording equipment, refreshments, lighting, and whatever unexpected challenges the venue presents.

Make sure you are have checked if there are any special needs your participants might have to participate fully, such as communication needs, a wheelchair-accessible location, or childcare.

Before facilitating your first group, role-play potentially difficult interactions – such as overly dominating participants, groups that are less confident about speaking in public, over-disclosure, arguments – to practice ways of dealing with them.

When analyzing and writing up group interview studies, remember the unit of analysis is the group not the participant – so report the number of groups as the main sample size, and include the group number (not the participant number) when quoting material.