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Conducting Online Focus Groups - Online

This live online course explores the principles and benefits of online focus groups (Foundation level). * Price:  £165 for SRA members, £220 for non-members.  It runs in one day and uses Zoom software *


This course provides participants with an in-depth introduction to successfully conducting and facilitating online focus groups. Traditionally, online focus groups have tended to be viewed as inferior to the traditional physical ‘face-to-face’ focus group. However, online focus groups can vary in form and offer us a valuable means by which to conduct social research with a range of diverse groups via various information and communication technologies. The course covers the principles and benefits of online focus groups, and the challenges which online communication poses when conducting focus groups virtually. We cover how to design, conduct and facilitate a synchronous online focus group using voice and video technologies. Participants are provided with guidance and the opportunity to practice running an online focus group, including strategies for participation and ethical considerations.


Learning outcomes


  • To have knowledge of the original principles of traditional face-to-face focus groups.
  • To understand how these principles change in the context of online communication and online data collection. • To be aware of the pros and cons of running an online focus group.
  • To be aware of the different types of online focus groups including synchronous and asynchronous and be able to select the most appropriate in various scenarios.
  • To be able to design and facilitate an online focus group via a practical activity.
  • Sensitivity to the ethics of online data collection.




  • The principles and benefits of online focus groups
  • The nature of online communication
  • Challenges of conducting online focus groups
  • Synchronous online focus groups and voice and video technologies
  • Designing and running your online focus groups
  • Strategies for encouraging participation
  • Ethics of online data collection
  • Other types of online focus groups: discussion forums, email distribution lists


Who will benefit


This introductory course will benefit researchers who are new to qualitative research methods and those who already have a basic understanding of qualitative research methods but are new to conducting focus groups in online settings.


Course tutor


Dr Karen Lumsden is a sociologist and criminologist at the University of Aberdeen, UK. She has a PhD in Sociology from the University of Aberdeen and has held a number of academic posts including Assistant Professor at the University of Nottingham, Associate Professor at the University of Leicester, and at Loughborough University. She has over 15 years’ experience teaching qualitative research methods to doctoral students, academics, practitioners and social researchers. This includes courses at the Universities of Aberdeen, Glasgow, Essex, Kingston, Bristol, Cardiff, and for the Social Research Association. Karen has also designed and delivered research methods training for police officers and staff via the East Midlands Policing Academic Collaboration (EMPAC) and for research consultancies. She has authored a number of academic books and journal articles on qualitative research methods and is on the Editorial Board of the Qualitative Research journal.


  This course contributes 6 hours to the MRS CPD programme


8/23/2022 10:00 AM - 4:00 PM
GMT Daylight Time

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