Focus groups are group discussions conducted with the participation of 7 to 12 people to capture their experiences and views regarding specific issues closely related to research question(s). Focus groups data collection method is most suitable for types of studies where multiple perspectives needed to be obtained regarding the same problem.
Focus groups are led by a moderator who is responsible to ensure that group discussions remain focused on the research area. Advantages of focus groups include the possibility of obtaining primary data through non-verbal channels, as well as, verbal channels and approaching the research area from various perspectives.
As is it is the case with any other research method, focus gropes have some disadvantages as well. Group discussions may be heavily influenced by one or two dominant individuals in the group. Also, some members of focus group may be discouraged from participating in discussions due to lack of confidence or not articulate communication skills. Moreover, the nature of primary data obtained through focus groups are greatly influenced by environmental factors such as design of the room, room temperature, time of the day, etc.
It is important to understand that data collection and data analysis using focus groups is much more difficult compared to questionnaires and interviews. You have to make sure that you fully understand these difficulties before making a final choice of primary data collection method. However, this is not to say that you should not use focus group to collect primary data for your dissertation.
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