Planning Focus Group Session



TIPS: Over-recruiting participants

It is possible that research participants will withdraw from the research. Therefore, it is necessary to over-recruit participants, as much as 20% of the original plan (Morgan, 1998). For instance, if the planned focus group is to involve 6-8 members, at least 10 people (i.e. 1 to 2 extra members) should be invited.

Methods of recruitment

(a) Nomination: Ask gate-keepers or key individuals to nominate potential participants that are related to the topic or known for their knowledge/ability to share their opinion on the issues. However, these nominees must agree to participate voluntarily without pressure from the gatekeeper/key individual.

Social workers can nominate disabled individuals to give opinion on the design of infrastructure or the implementation of the ‘Barrier-free’ environment’ policy in the community

(b) Random selection: If there is a large defined group (E.g. an entire high school, or an entire department of a company) with many eager participants, names can be randomly drawn.

(c) All members of the same group: Sometimes participants could be invited from an already existing group which serves as an idea pool. (e.g. members of the district council; council members of the education panel in the Legislative Council).

(d) Volunteers: When the selection criteria are relatively broad, participants can be recruited with flyers, newspaper advertisement or online/social media posts. However, researchers should carefully verify the suitability of volunteered participants.



TIPS: Call and Confirm

Once the location has been confirmed, you should call or inform each potential participant to confirm their availability and interest. Information provided includes:

  • Time
  • Location
  • Purposes of the focus group
  • Secure verbal confirmation (if possible)

A written confirmation should be sent and a reminder call should be made to the participants before the scheduled meeting date.