Focus Groups

  • By:Jude Robinson | Edited by: Paul Atkinson, Sara Delamont, Alexandru Cernat, Joseph W. Sakshaug & Richard A.Williams
  • Publisher: SAGE Publications Ltd
    • Publication year: 2019
    • Online pub date:
  • Discipline: Sociology, Anthropology
  • Methods: Focus groups, Moderators
  • Length: 10k+ Words
  • DOI:


Focus group discussions represent a useful way to bring people together to generate new insights and ideas about a research topic. The advantages of using focus groups include the potential to gain a rapid insight into how a topic is viewed and discussed from complementary or contrasting perspectives. Participants are invited to present their views in turn, and as they can hear and reflect on what others in the group are saying, they can also give their response to what they have heard. While this open and discursive approach to data collection can produce a consensus in the group, as people may find it easy or polite to broadly agree with what other participants have already said, it can also highlight tensions and disagreements between group members as they interact.

As focus groups represent a dynamic and potentially provocative research method, this entry highlight the advantages as well as the limitations of including focus group discussions in a research project. Moving through the practicalities of designing and setting up focus group discussion, there are discussions around the composition of focus groups, ethical considerations, and the role of technologies to facilitate and capture group discussions in real and virtual settings. By highlighting both the opportunities and issues, researchers may encounter if they are using focus groups in research. This reflective overview guides the reader through the process of moderating a group discussion through to the analysis and presentation of data.

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