Update so far …
We are now coming to the end of the recruitment for Phase 2 of the UMF Review Evaluation project. We have carried out 5 focus groups in total, all of which have provided some really interesting and useful information. We will be sharing this information, along with the key findings from our research over the coming months, so stayed tuned for that … ♦
First, a few things that we’ve learnt along the way when it comes to conducting focus groups effectively as part of a research project:
Provide a range of dates and times for potential focus groups – it can be difficult to find a suitable date for all participants, so use a Doodle Poll-type system to help with scheduling dates and times for as many people to attend as possible.
Try to book more participants on each focus group than required – there will nearly always be instances where people can no longer attend the focus group, so it’s good to book more people than you’d like.
Book an appropriately sized room (as early as possible after confirming the date) that is easily accessible and well-located for participants to attend. You don’t want to put people off from attending, if it’s difficult to get to for example.
Make sure to have the right equipment for the running of the focus groups. This includes:
– Ethical documents – to be given to participants at the beginning of the focus group, including – informed consent form (to be signed and returned to researcher), participant information sheet, copy of the focus group questions etc.
– List of participants that are booked onto the focus group session.
– Speaker/microphone – this will really help to pick up the conversation and ensure that the recorded material is clear and easy to transcribe. We used a Jabra Speakerphone which worked great (just remember to make sure you don’t use the Microphone on your laptop).
– Recording software – to audio record the conversations in a digital format. We used Audacity which worked really well and it was quite easy to use. You can convert the files to MP3, as usually required by transcription services.
– PowerPoint presentation – to present the key questions or topics that you will be discussing during the focus group. We presented each question to the group using the BARCO University system, which helped to keep the discussion on topic and guided the focus group.
Allow a few weeks for the transcription process to be completed, if you are using a professional transcription service. Having the recordings professionally transcribed can be really time-saving and much easier. The costs of this also need to be considered based on the research project funds.
Be prepared to go through the written transcripts whilst listening to the audio version – this can help to check the quality of transcripts, particularly as there may be terms or phrases that are commonly used during the discussion, of which the transcriber does not know. You may also need to go through and identify which participants are which in the transcripts (e.g. interviewer and respondent 1, 2, 3 etc.), as these are not always recorded by the transcriber.
Project plans (over the coming months):
- To commence analysis of the qualitative focus group data
- To begin write-up of the project (i.e. introduction, methodology, analysis etc.)
Thank you for reading this post.