How do you extract useful information from a group of people in connection with your research? One of the tools used is focus group discussion. Read on to find out how this is done.
If you engage in social research or study research methodologies, one of the common sometimes abused methods of data collection that you should be familiar with is focus group discussion or FGD.
Aside from soliciting ideas that will help answer or narrow down your research topic, the output of the discussion verifies or confirms the results of surveys designed to answer research questions that you are interested in see Triangulation.
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What is focus group discussion, when do you use it and how should you conduct it? What good practices should be observed? This article provides answers to these questions.
Sometimes, FGD is also called focus ed group discussion because the discussion focuses on questions that seek multi-stakeholder response. Essentially, FGD is a discussion of issues and concerns between a selected group of four to eight people. A well-trained moderator guides the progress of the discussion using a set of questions prepared by the researcher.
The participants of the FGD are selected using a set of guidelines or criterion such that the participants are able to give useful or relevant information to meet the objectives of the study.
This requires familiarity with the background of the participants.
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For example, in a study on coastal resource use, if the issue relates to dynamite fishing in the coral reefs, the participants to look for include representatives from the groups of fishers, fish traders, former dynamite fishers, law enforcers, explosives suppliers, local policy makers, non-government organizations or associations, among others who have direct or indirect transactions in the community. Avoid bias in the selection of participants such as including only those who are accessible or favoring a certain political group.
Examples of questions that relate to illegal fishing in the coral reefs that will serve as the focus of the FGD are the following:. Of course, the questions will ultimately depend on what information you would like to draw out from the participants.
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The FGD enables you to explore which variables you will include and focus the quantitative if ever part of your study. You might want to relate fisher income with frequency of dynamite fishing. Or you might want to quantify the costs and benefits of dynamite fishing taking the point of view of the fisher. The end justifies the means, so they say.
The information derived from the FGD, aside from fulfilling an academic requirement, is useful in policy making and management. It can lead to agreement on certain controversial issues and evaluation of program or project accomplishments in the target community.
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