‘Talk amongst yourselves’: designing and evaluating a novel remotely-moderated focus groups methodology for exploring group talk

Annayah Prosser, Lois N.M. Hueng, Leda Blackwood, Saffron O'Neill, Jan Willem Bolderdijk, Tim Kurz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (SciVal)

Abstract

The use of a moderator has become ubiquitous when using focus groups for social science research. While a skilled moderator can facilitate discussion, we argue that, in some instances, moderators can potentially hinder the generation of the types of group discussions that academic researchers may seek to access. In this paper we outline some of the challenges associated with moderated focus groups and propose a complimentary methodology: a remotely-moderated focus group that can help overcome some of the problems a physically present moderator might create, while still incorporating many of the benefits of moderation. Using two remotely-moderated focus group designs - one exploring dietary identity and the other exploring gendered experiences of sexual harassment - we provide evidence for the efficacy of this design in multiple contexts. We evaluate its ability to produce high quality conversational data and suggest directions for future research exploring the utility of this methodology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-43
Number of pages43
JournalQualitative Research in Psychology
Volume21
Issue number1
Early online date19 Sept 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jan 2024

Bibliographical note

Funding
The first author was supported with an ESRC PhD Scholarship.

Data availability statement
The focus group guides and materials for the dietary and sexual harassment focus groups are available at: https://osf.io/znc3m/. Transcripts for the sexual harassment focus groups are not openly available due to concerns about potential identifiability, sensitive discussions, and lack of participant consent to open the data. The opened transcripts for the dietary focus groups are openly accessible on the OSF page https://osf.io/znc3m/. To ensure participants in the dietary groups could informedly consent to data opening, the data opening process was explained by the remote moderator in-person before and after the focus group took place and was also outlined on the study information sheet. Participants in the dietary focus group gave consent to share their discussions openly both before, and after the focus groups in a two-stage signed consent form. Participants in the dietary groups were also given the opportunity to withdraw their data from analysis and/or data opening prior to full anonymisation up to 30 days after the focus group took place, which no participants did. We ensured the transcripts were fully anonymised before data sharing and redacted any potentially identifying person or place names and other details from the openly available transcripts. For the dietary identity groups, we did not identify any sensitive legal or political issues that would preclude sharing of this data. Further details on our anonymisation method can be found with the opened dietary identity transcripts at https://osf.io/znc3m/.

Data Availability Statement

The focus group guides and materials for the dietary and sexual harassment focus groups are available at: https://osf.io/znc3m/. Transcripts for the sexual harassment focus groups are not openly available due to concerns about potential identifiability, sensitive discussions, and lack of participant consent to open the data. The opened transcripts for the dietary focus groups are openly accessible on the OSF page https://osf.io/znc3m/. To ensure participants in the dietary groups could informedly consent to data opening, the data opening process was explained by the remote moderator in-person before and after the focus group took place and was also outlined on the study information sheet. Participants in the dietary focus group gave consent to share their discussions openly both before, and after the focus groups in a two-stage signed consent form. Participants in the dietary groups were also given the opportunity to withdraw their data from analysis and/or data opening prior to full anonymisation up to 30 days after the focus group took place, which no participants did. We ensured the transcripts were fully anonymised before data sharing and redacted any potentially identifying person or place names and other details from the openly available transcripts. For the dietary identity groups, we did not identify any sensitive legal or political issues that would preclude sharing of this data. Further details on our anonymisation method can be found with the opened dietary identity transcripts at https://osf.io/znc3m/.

Keywords

  • Focus Group
  • Groups
  • Methods
  • Moderation
  • Qualitative
  • Remotely Moderated Focus Group
  • Social Research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)

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