By Holly Edmunds
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Extra info for The focus group research handbook
The screening process usually requires a brief time on the phone with each contact person, sometimes as little as five minutes. The screener is designed to appear as a mini survey. The recruiter invites qualified contacts to attend a group and leaves unqualified contacts feeling that they have completed a research study, unaware that they are not actually participating in the study itself. The client should monitor a few initial recruitment interviews to ensure that the screener flows smoothly and that contacts are clear on what is being asked.
While the logic behind such questions is apparent, recruiters are not necessarily the best judges of how the dynamics of the focus group will work. A good moderator, rather than recruiters' opinions, is the real key to a fruitful focus group session. Let's look at another example: screening questions for a focus group to test a series of new fast-food advertisements. For advertisements that are targeted at adults, it might be assumed that the most desirable participants for the focus groups would be men and women between the ages of eighteen and forty-five Page 34 who purchase any type or brand of fast food.
Likewise, the research sponsor(s) can call into a designated number and be put into a listening mode, where they are able to listen to the group discussion without being heard themselves. When using this format, it is preferable to aim for slightly smaller groups (six or seven participants), in order to allow the moderator to maintain better control over the group. Clients can also send messages to the moderator via an operator on the conference line. The client signals the operator, for example, by dialing a prespecified code.