Over the past decade, focus groups and group interviews have reemerged as a popular technique for gathering qualitative data, both among sociologists and across a wide range of academic and applied research areas. Focus groups are currently used as both a self-contained method and in combination with surveys and other research methods, most notably individual, in-depth interviews. Comparisons between focus groups and both surveys and individual interviews help to show the specific advantages and disadvantages of group interviews, concentrating on the role of the group in producing interaction and the role of the moderator in guiding this interaction. The advantages of focus groups can be maximized through careful attention to research design issues at both the project and the group level. Important future directions include: the development of standards for reporting focus group research, more methodological research on focus groups, more attention to data analysis issues, and more engagement with the concerns of the research participants.
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