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Focus Groups II: Analysing Results. Outputs from FGs Order out of Chaos? Order out of Chaos? Writing up qualitative results is challenging because it.

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Presentation on theme: "Focus Groups II: Analysing Results. Outputs from FGs Order out of Chaos? Order out of Chaos? Writing up qualitative results is challenging because it."— Presentation transcript:

1 Focus Groups II: Analysing Results

2 Outputs from FGs Order out of Chaos? Order out of Chaos? Writing up qualitative results is challenging because it is not an exact science – yet should inform your research design, your hypotheses and your independent/dependent variables. Writing up qualitative results is challenging because it is not an exact science – yet should inform your research design, your hypotheses and your independent/dependent variables. Much attention in the qualitative methods literature on how to set up focus groups but very little on how to interpret results. Much attention in the qualitative methods literature on how to set up focus groups but very little on how to interpret results.

3 Different approaches What worked and what didnt? What worked and what didnt? Were you asking the right questions? Were you asking the right questions? What other questions were raised by the groups? What other questions were raised by the groups? Key words Key words Key themes Key themes Key emotions Key emotions Key ideas Key ideas

4 Challenges to interpreting FG results Lengthy texts Lengthy texts Groups rambled or (more rarely) failed to engage Groups rambled or (more rarely) failed to engage Moderator talked to much or diverted the flow of the conversation Moderator talked to much or diverted the flow of the conversation People were reluctant to express their real opinions People were reluctant to express their real opinions Hard to categorise or organise the proceedings – particularly when there are a large number of groups Hard to categorise or organise the proceedings – particularly when there are a large number of groups

5 Ideas for organising FG analysis Transcripts are probably necessary. Transcripts are probably necessary. Categorization via words, ideas, themes or whatever seems appropriate Categorization via words, ideas, themes or whatever seems appropriate Sometimes quite simple ideas will work fairly well. Sometimes quite simple ideas will work fairly well.

6 Interpretive approach 1) Break proceedings down into text segments 1) Break proceedings down into text segments 2) Allocate under themes and headings 2) Allocate under themes and headings 3) Themes and headings can be inductive (from what arises) or deductive (imposed by the researcher initially) or mix of both 3) Themes and headings can be inductive (from what arises) or deductive (imposed by the researcher initially) or mix of both

7 Holistic approach Script annotation (through listening or reading, writing interpretive thoughts. Transcript is considered as a whole rather than set of discrete responses; allows social scientist to consider each proceedings as a whole, rather than discrete responses. You can re- experience the group, body language and tone of the discussion.

8 Qualitative market researchers distance themselves from approaches to data (cognitive, journalistic, discursive) in which data from groups are taken largely at face value and responses may be counted. By comparison, 'good' qualitative research involves a therapeutic or clinical interpretation or the cracking of cultural codes

9 Phases of a group Forming Forming Storming Storming Norming Norming Performing Performing Mourning (or adjourning) Mourning (or adjourning)

10 Forming Forming Considerable anxiety, testing. Assessing what help will come from facilitator; what behaviours are appropriate or inappropriate. Storming Storming Conflict emerges among sub-groups; the authority and/or competence of individuals is challenged. Opinions polarize. Individuals react against efforts of the others to control them Norming Norming The group begins to harmonize; experiences group cohesion or unity for the first time. Norms emerge as those in conflict are reconciled and resistance is overcome. Mutual support develops.

11 Performing Performing The group structures itself or accepts a structure, which fits most appropriately its common task. Roles are seen in terms functional to the task and flexibility between them develops. The group structures itself or accepts a structure, which fits most appropriately its common task. Roles are seen in terms functional to the task and flexibility between them develops. Mourning Mourning The group must accept that the project is complete and disband gracefully. There may be a sense of loss and anxiety at having to break- up. The group must accept that the project is complete and disband gracefully. There may be a sense of loss and anxiety at having to break- up. Modified from a web page from the University of Queensland Department of Anthropology and Sociology, see Modified from a web page from the University of Queensland Department of Anthropology and Sociology, see

12 The paradox of group dynamics Most important asset in promoting discussion amongst participants Most important asset in promoting discussion amongst participants YET YET Biggest threat to open discussion of issues by all participants Biggest threat to open discussion of issues by all participants

13 How valuable is FG interaction? Some argue that while focus groups can provide insight into the experiences of individual participants, the real value of group data is to be found from analysing the interaction between participants. Some argue that while focus groups can provide insight into the experiences of individual participants, the real value of group data is to be found from analysing the interaction between participants. See Schindlers conclusions about the failure of Coke to understand focus group reactions to New Coke (and why it would fail) See Schindlers conclusions about the failure of Coke to understand focus group reactions to New Coke (and why it would fail)

14 Source Schindler, R.M. (1992), "The Real Lesson of New Coke: The Value of Focus Groups for Predicting the Effects of Social Influence," Marketing Research, 4 (December), – Available electronically via the University of Glasgow library

15 Snapshots vs. moving picture Cut and paste approaches, manual or computer, can fail to capture or even recognize the following events in the unfolding story of the focus group: VS Annotating-the-scripts approach -- more likely to capture the whole moving picture of the unfolding script or story that is the focus group discussion.

16 Good article on FGs Catterall, M. and Maclaran, P.Catterall, M. and Maclaran, P. (1997) 'Focus Group Data and Qualitative Analysis Programs: Coding the Moving Picture as Well as the Snapshots' Sociological Research Online, vol. 2, no. 1,

17 Benefits to moving picture Sequence Sequence See participants change views, think out loud, react See participants change views, think out loud, react Expand on experiences recounted earlier Expand on experiences recounted earlier Interactive pattern is far clearer. Interactive pattern is far clearer.

18 Coding over interpreting Social scientists who employ focus groups have a much more positive attitude to coding, cutting and pasting data, counting words or text segments, and using computers to assist with analysis Social scientists who employ focus groups have a much more positive attitude to coding, cutting and pasting data, counting words or text segments, and using computers to assist with analysis

19 Analysis of interaction 1. Shared language 2. The beliefs and myths about the topic that are shared, taken for granted, and which ones are challenged 3. The arguments which participants call upon when their views are challenged 4. The sources of information people call upon to justify their views and experiences and how others respond to these. 5. The arguments, sources and types of information that stimulate changes of opinion or reinterpretation of experiences. 6. The tone of voice, body language, and degree of emotional engagement is involved when participants talk to each other about the topic.

20 Mixed coding Define key terms Define key terms Read through and annotate scripts. Read through and annotate scripts. Add in more primary and secondary terms as you go Add in more primary and secondary terms as you go Organise key comments onto MS Word table with five categories. Organise key comments onto MS Word table with five categories.

21 Word table for FG analysis Item number Item number Group Group Participant number Participant number Keyword 1 Keyword 1 Keyword 2 Keyword 2 Comment Comment


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