Franklin & Marshall College Franklin & Marshall College

Center for Opinion Research

Focus Group FAQs

What is a focus group?

A focus group brings together a group of people to talk about their perceptions, opinions, beliefs and attitudes about a product, service, concept, advertisement, or idea. Questions are asked in an informal group setting where participants are free to talk with other group members. Sometimes group participants are asked to complete short tasks, such as ranking items. Generally, the focus group will consist of eight to twelve participants and a researcher, called a moderator, who guides the discussion.

What is the moderator’s role?

The moderator is an experienced, independent researcher who leads the discussion. The moderator will ask questions and encourage the conversation to flow freely between members of the group. The role of the moderator is, simply, to get you talking!

What is my role?

Your role is to share your thoughts and opinions with the group, including responding to the moderator’s questions and commenting on other’s opinions—even when your opinions are different from other group members. In fact, we often learn the most when we hear you respectfully share why you don’t agree.

How should I dress? What should I bring along?

Wear comfortable clothes that will allow you to sit, stand, and walk around easily. You might want to bring a sweater or a light jacket because our room temperatures are maintained at about 70 degrees. Bring your glasses for reading. Be sure you know how to power off or silence your cell phone, because we’ll ask you to do so immediately before the session begins.

How should I prepare for the group?

Be sure to familiarize yourself with directions to our focus group facility.

As for the questions you’ll be asked . . . there are no right or wrong answers! The purpose of the group is for you to share your opinions, so you don’t need to do any research or preparation. The most important thing to remember is that the discussion is meant to be informal, honest, interesting, and fun!

What should I do when I arrive?

When you arrive on the third floor of Franklin & Marshall’s Harris Center, please go to the administrative office (Rm. 305) to confirm your arrival with a Center representative.

Will there be something to eat and drink?

Yes. A light meal and beverages will be provided at the start of your group. During the group breaks, refreshments and food will be available. If you have any dietary restrictions you did not share when enrolling in the group, please call us at 1-866-366-7655 to discuss them with us.

What should I do if I can no longer attend my scheduled group or am running late?

Please contact the Center at 1-866-366-7655 to advise us of your situation. If you reach our voicemail, please include your name, group date and time, a telephone number and an explanation of your message.

Can I bring a friend to the Focus Group?

No. Only those recruited to participate in the focus group will be allowed to participate in the group. If you bring someone with you to a session, they will have to wait outside the session room and will not be able to talk with you until after the session is over.

Is the information I share at the group confidential?

Yes. All information you provide to the Center for Opinion Research will be kept confidential and will never be used for any solicitation purposes.

If the group is confidential, then why is the moderator taking notes and why is the group being recorded?

The group moderator may take notes during the discussion to help follow up on particular comments participants make without interrupting the group’s conversation.

Research sessions are usually recorded, and you will be asked permission before we do so. The recordings are used for analysis of the project and for analysis of participants’ emotions and/or reactions. In the event the recording is transcribed, any identifying information you may have shared during the group (your name, employer, etc.) will be removed from the transcription.

There is a one-way mirror in the room, behind which colleagues of the moderator can sit and take notes without disturbing the group. Again, all the information collected during the group is kept confidential and only used for research purposes.  Your name will never be tied to the comments you make in any of our reporting documents.

How is my honorarium or incentive fee paid?

The Center for Opinion Research will distribute your compensation at the end of the discussion. If you have been added to the group with short notice, it may be necessary for us to mail your compensation. We will notify you when you are added to the group whether you will receive your compensation in person or via mail. A 1099 will be issued only for participation compensation exceeding $600 per tax year.

There may be a lot to cover during the Focus Group session, but people generally have a good time. We hope you do, too!