How to conduct focus groups: Free online resources for researchers

February 6, 2017

I have been putting some resources together for graduate students on how to conduct focus groups. Here are over a dozen freely available online resources on how to plan, implement, record and analyze focus groups:

  1. Dawson, S., Manderson, L., & Tallo, V. L. (1992). The focus group manual. Retrieved from http://www.ircwash.org/sites/default/files/125-10840.pdf
  2. Education Training Services. (n.d.). Focus Group Planning Checklist. Retrieved from http://www.etr.org/cisp/access-resources/focus-areas/organizational-development/focus-groups-planning-checklist-pdf/
  3. Elliot & Associates. (2005). Guidelines for conducting a focus group. Retrieved from https://assessment.trinity.duke.edu/documents/How_to_Conduct_a_Focus_Group.pdf
  4. Family Health International. (n.d.). Qualitative focus groups: A data collector’s field guide. Retrieved from https://sa-assessment.uoregon.edu/Portals/0/focusgroups1.pdf
  5. Com. (n.d.). Moderator Check List to Conduct Focus Groups or Depth Interviews. Retrieved from http://www.focusgrouptips.com/conduct-focus-groups.html
  6. Harrell, M. C., & Bradley, M. A. (2009). Training manual: Data collection methods: Semi-structured interviews and focus groups. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation. Retrieved from http://www.mbamedicine.activemoodle.com/mod/resource/view.php?id=486
  7. Jordan Civil Society Program (CSP). (2012). How to engage your stakeholders in designing, monitoring and evaluating your Programs: A step-by-step guide to focus group research for non-governmental organizations Retrieved from http://staff.estem-uc.edu.au/taipham/files/2013/01/A-Step-by-Step-Guide-to-Focus-Group-Research.pdf
  8. Kielman, K., Cataldo, F., & Seeley, J. (2012). Introduction to qualitative research methodology: A training manual. Department for International Development (DfID). Retrieved from https://rbfhealth.org/sites/rbf/files/Introduction%20to%20Qualitative%20Research%20Methodology%20-%20A%20Training%20Manual.pdf
  9. Modesto, T. S. (Ed.) (2013). Preparing your dissertation at a distance: A research guide. Virtual University for the Small States of the Commonwealth (VUSSC) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC), Centre for Distanced Education (CDE) – (SADC-CDE). Retrieved from http://www.sadc.int/files/3713/7821/2867/Dissertation_PDF.pdf
  10. Reilly, L. (2013). Training handbook: Organizing and facilitating focus groups. Alexandria: VA. National School Boards Association. Retrieved from https://cdn-files.nsba.org/s3fs-public/05_PET_FocusGroups_Handbook.pdf?cVFz.heuGUiKZnO.caQz8Qjftx7AV9Fk
  11. Shallwani, S., & Mohammed, S. (2007). Community-based participatory research: A training manual for community-based researchers. Retrieved from http://www.livingknowledge.org/fileadmin/Dateien-Living-Knowledge/Dokumente_Dateien/Toolbox/LK_A_Training_manual.pdf
  12. Temple University. (2004). Module III: Qualitative data: Focus group tools. Rapid policy assessment and response. Retrieved from http://www.temple.edu/lawschool/phrhcs/rpar/tools/english/Module%20III_tools.pdf.
  13. Temple University. (2004). Module III: Qualitative data: Focus groups: Training materials. Rapid policy assessment and response. Retrieved from http://www.temple.edu/lawschool/phrhcs/rpar/tools/english/Module%20III_training.pdf.
  14. S. Environmental Protection Agency. Focus group check list. Retrieved from https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2015-09/focus_group_checklist.doc

I’ll update this list as I find more resources.

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Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.

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What makes a good research question?

November 6, 2012

This week I posed a question to my students: What makes a good research question?

As Masters of Education students, they are learning about what it means to be a researcher and building a foundation of knowledge. They came up with some great resources this week. If you are looking for answers to this question, check out these great resources:

Sarah Eaton blog leadershipSonia Ospina’s entry in the Encyclopedia of Leadership on Qualitative Research

This is a 13-page document, available free in .pdf format. Published in 2004, this text shares some of the fundamentals of qualitative research, particularly as it pertains to leadership. It is also very useful for students and researchers working in education and other social sciences. It contains an extensive bibliography that serves as a great point of departure for more exploration. Link for this resource: http://ualr.edu/interdisciplinary/files/2010/03/Qualitative_Research.pdf

Sarah Eaton blogJudith Haber’s chapter called “Research Questions, Hypotheses and Clinical Questions”

Though marked as “Sample – Not final” with a watermark on the .pdf, this is an incredible 29-page resource that includes flow charts and tables of information. It is easy to understand and written in language that most novice researchers could understand. This one quickly became a favorite because it was colorful and concise. Even though it appears to be written for students and practitioners of health research, there are many elements that may be useful to educators and social science researchers, too. Link for this resource: http://www.us.elsevierhealth.com/media/us/samplechapters/9780323057431/Chapter%2002.pdf

Companion for Undergraduate Research

This is a website (http://www.socscidiss.bham.ac.uk/) that outlines the characteristics of a good research question. Then it talks about each characteristic in detail. It is written in clear language and is very well organized. The page also contains links to other helpful resources on research.

Figuring out how to craft a research question can be tricky. Resources like these help to demystify the process.

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Update – April, 2017 – This blog has had over 1.5 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.


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