Interview and Focus Group: Assessing the Pros and Cons

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Interviews and focus groups as a primary sources of collecting data, the researcher explore research subject (human) to obtain deeper information, we could explore how people talk about environment sustainability; similarity (p: 169)

The advantages of interviews and focus group

  1. Discovering new information and consolidating old or established knowledge.
  2. Obtaining different perspective on the same topic (sometimes describe as multivocality) in participants’ own words.
  3. Gaining information on participants’ views, attitude, belief, response, motivation and perceptions on topic; why people think or feel the way they do.
  4. Examining participants’ shared understanding of every life, and the every use of language and culture of particular groups.
  5. Brainstorming and generating ideas.
  6. Gaining insights into the ways in which individuals are influenced by others in a group situation (group dynamics)
  7. Generating a sense of rapport between the research and researched (p: 170)

The disadvantages of interview and focus groups

  1. Bias and manipulation, due to the interviewer/ moderator either leading participants directly in terms of what they say in meetings, or where participants end up saying what they think the convener (or other in group) what to hear.
  2. False’ consensus, which may be the result of some participants with strong personalities and or similar views dominating the discussion, while others remaining silent.
  3. Other effect of group dynamics- such as group polarization, where a group may respond collectively in more exaggerated way what than any individual member.
  4. Problem with making generalization from these group to wider population.
  5. They are intensive in terms of both time and resources and usually require a high level of commitment from one’s participants (p: 172)
Source: Edley, Nigel & Litosseliti, Lia. 2010. Contemplating Interviews and Focus Groups. In Litosseliti, Lia. 2010. Research Methods in Linguistics. Newyork: Continnum International Publishing Group.

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