"Focus groups are fundamentally a way of listening to people and learning from them" (Morgan, 1998 p.9).
Focus groups are:
Think about what you want to learn about your library. This is a crucial step. Don't go too big on this - keep it focused.
Listen to what the groups say. It can be hard not to chime in, especially if the group wants something you already offer. But remember that you are there to listen. If you want to chime in, keep it short and go back to listening.
Summarize your findings. Know up front who will get the results, what you want for the results (a bulleted list or an in-depth analysis), and how you will communicate to the public the results and any resulting changes.
Do a FEW focus groups
Too many groups makes analysis time consuming and difficult.
With a FEW people
Too many people in one group may prevent some people from speaking.
Too many people produces too much data and too much data makes analysis time consuming and difficult.
Asking a FEW questions
Too many questions may mean that you have to move on before the group has finished with a topic.
Too many questions produces too much data and too much data....
Focus groups use humans as the research subjects. This means that certain precautions must be taken. If you are going to publish your research, you will need to have your research plan approved by an Institutional Research Board (IRB) or other such organization. Most research that poses little or no risk to participants or is used only for quality improvement does not need IRB approval. It is always best to talk to someone from an IRB if you have any questions.