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An evaluation toolkit for e-library developments


Focus groups

Reasons for using focus groups

Focus groups are a useful method to:

Advantages of focus groups

The main advantages of focus groups are:

Disadvantages of focus groups

The main disadvantages of focus groups are:

Advantages of using online focus groups

The main advantages of online focus groups are:

Disadvantages of using online focus groups

The main disadvantages of online focus groups are:

Focus group process

Stage 1: Determine what information is required. What do you want to find out?

Focus groups are usually conducted in relation to specific library resource or services.

Stage 2: Decide on the number of focus groups, focus group participants eg students, library staff, academics and how these should be contacted

Most focus groups consist of between six and twelve participants. Homogeneity is important, but participants should be sufficiently diverse to allow for contrasting opinions. In most situations, there should be separate focus groups for staff and students. However, if you want to explore how perceptions vary between different groups, you may wish to encourage a mix of different types of participants. Ideally, the participants should not know each other. Ways to recruit participants include email, posters and flyers. Tutors may be useful to help to recruit students. Invitations should describe:

Stage 3: Draft the interview schedule, considering content, wording, format, structure and layout

Issues to consider

Stage 4: Pilot/test the focus group schedule with colleagues or a sample of potential participants and revise as necessary

A focus group should typically last between one and two hours. Make sure the questions can be discussed in the allotted time. Consider the best order of questions to ensure the flow of conversation.

Stage 5: Conduct the focus groups

Stage 6: Transcribe focus groups

Stage 7: Analyse the transcripts

Stage 8: Write up, present and use the findings

Case studies