You may wish to have an experienced social scientist as part of your team. There are challenges in interpreting focus group data. Kidd and Parshall (2000) suggest approaches to enhance the validity of focus group findings.
- Prepare a report, including transcription of tapes if needed, as soon as possible after completion of the individual focus group
- After all the focus groups are complete, compare and contrast results by categories of individual focus groups
- Identify emerging themes by question
- Diagram the analysis
- Find the big ideas
Tips for analyzing the focus group discussion:
- Reflect on the actual words used, similarity of words and the meanings of those words.
- Consider whether responses are specific and based on experience or are vague and impersonal.
- Were participants consistent or did they change their positions during the course of the discussion? What clues explain the change?
- Think about whether the response was triggered by a pre-determined question or a comment from another participant.
- Are some topics discussed more frequently than others? Are there topics that were not discussed or received limited comments?
- Take into account voice tone, speed of speech and emphasis, which may indicate how strongly the opinion is held.
- This link from the New York State Teachers Centers provides the rationale for using a focus group to collect data, designing the process and questions, data analysis and links to resources for communicating results.
- Kidd, P. S. and Parshall, M. B. 2000. Getting the focus and the group: enhancing analytical rigor in focus group research. Qualitative Health Research 10(3): 293-308. (doi: 10.1177/104973200129118453)
- This link provides instructions for planning, organizing and implementing focus groups and analyzing data. Office of Assessment, Duke University Trinity College of Arts and Sciences. How to Conduct a Focus Group.
- Colorado State University, Tri-Ethnic Center, Community Readiness Model.