Planning and Facilitating Focus Groups

Focus groupFocus groups are a great way to collect qualitative research data. They’re excellent for helping gain an insight into the views and perceptions of people, and a really great way of understanding users. They can be used to get feedback on products or services, or to help plan future developments. They’re often used in market research but can be adapted for a number of different purposes. One way we have used focus groups at Evidence Base was to gain a deeper understanding of student’s views on e-books and print books – their preferences, use, and reasons behind these. This was incredibly useful for supporting future purchasing decisions and user support. We’ve facilitated focus groups for a number of different organisations, including many libraries, and if you’d like us to work with you on this, please contact us.

Focus group training workshop

However, we recognised there was a need for training to enable other people to plan and facilitate their own focus groups or improve ones they already do. Following a number of requests for support in this, we spent time designing a training workshop on this topic. This started as a half-day workshop, but it has since expanded into a full day workshop to allow time for the theory, practice and planning.

The aims of the workshop are to help attendees:

  • Understand the value of focus groups and consider when they would be appropriate
  • Plan, organise and facilitate a focus group
  • Prepare activities for different types of focus groups to maximise the information collected
  • Report findings from focus groups to different stakeholders

The workshop includes a presentation to cover the logistics of focus groups, techniques to attract attendees, techniques to improve facilitation, and how to record and share the results of the focus group. It also includes a series of focus groups activities, based around a neutral topic, to experience the different types of activities you could include in focus groups. This then allows participants to consider how these could be adapted for their own focus groups.

We ran the first full day workshop in September 2015, and had very positive feedback. Some comments included:

“Very thorough information and an excellent balance between theory and practical.”

“It has given me a theoretical and practical grounding for ideas and activities I have seen in use and participated in. I now have a clear idea of what sort of activities I would / wouldn’t use in different focus groups, and a good understanding of how people react differently to activities.”

“The activities were really useful to see how to make focus groups more interactive.”

“The handbook and individual exercises were laid out really clearly and will be really useful in future. The presentation was really clear and easy to follow.”

Book your place

Due to the success of the workshop, we’ve scheduled more dates and our latest is now ready to accept bookings – Tuesday 15th March 2016. Booking is now open so you can find out more at http://www.bcu.ac.uk/evidence-base/training-and-events/planning-and-facilitating-focus-groups and book your place at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/focusgroupworkshop.

Hope to see some of you there!

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Library Research Priorities Survey

We would like to invite you to complete the Library Research Priorities Survey which is being conducted by Evidence Base at Birmingham City University in order to understand more about current practice and future plans for research in libraries and information services. It covers conducting and disseminating research, research skills, and support and guidance.

The survey is open to all LIS practitioners in any sector and country. It should take around 10-15 minutes of your time and all questions are optional. The survey will remain open until May 29th 2015 and is available at:

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/libraryresearchpriorities

To thank you for your participation, we are offering entry into a prize draw to win one of two £50 Amazon vouchers. Details are on the final section of the survey.

For purposes of this study, we are defining research as:

The process of arriving at dependable solutions to problems/questions/hypotheses through the planned and systematic collection, analysis, and interpretation of data: it may be applied or theoretical in nature and use quantitative or qualitative methods. (This definition does not include library research that is limited to activities such as compiling bibliographies and searching catalogues.)

Please feel free to pass the details of the survey to other contacts who may be researching in library and information services, or would like to.

If you have any questions about the survey, please contact ebase@bcu.ac.uk.

Planning and Facilitating Focus Groups

Focus groupFocus groups are a great way to collect qualitative research data. They’re excellent for helping gain an insight into the views and perceptions of people, and a really great way of understanding users. They can be used to get feedback on products or services, or to help plan future developments. They’re often used in market research but can be adapted for a number of different purposes. One way we have used focus groups at Evidence Base was to gain a deeper understanding of student’s views on e-books and print books – their preferences, use, and reasons behind these. This was incredibly useful for supporting future purchasing decisions and user support. We’ve facilitated focus groups for a number of different organisations, including many libraries, and if you’d like us to work with you on this, please contact us.

Focus group training workshop

However, we recognised there was a need for training to enable other people to plan and facilitate their own focus groups or improve ones they already do. Following a number of requests for support in this, we spent time designing a training workshop on this topic. This started as a half-day workshop, but it has since expanded into a full day workshop to allow time for the theory, practice and planning.

The aims of the workshop are to help attendees:

  • Understand the value of focus groups and consider when they would be appropriate
  • Plan, organise and facilitate a focus group
  • Prepare activities for different types of focus groups to maximise the information collected
  • Report findings from focus groups to different stakeholders

The workshop includes a presentation to cover the logistics of focus groups, techniques to attract attendees, techniques to improve facilitation, and how to record and share the results of the focus group. It also includes a series of focus groups activities, based around a neutral topic, to experience the different types of activities you could include in focus groups. This then allows participants to consider how these could be adapted for their own focus groups.

We ran the first full day workshop in September, and had very positive feedback. Some comments included:

“Very thorough information and an excellent balance between theory and practical.”

“It has given me a theoretical and practical grounding for ideas and activities I have seen in use and participated in. I now have a clear idea of what sort of activities I would / wouldn’t use in different focus groups, and a good understanding of how people react differently to activities.”

“The activities were really useful to see how to make focus groups more interactive.”

“The handbook and individual exercises were laid out really clearly and will be really useful in future. The presentation was really clear and easy to follow.”

Book your place

Due to the success of the first workshop, we’ve scheduled another date to repeat it – Tuesday January 13th 2015. Booking is now open so you can find out more at http://www.bcu.ac.uk/evidence-base/training-and-events/planning-and-facilitating-focus-groups and book your place at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/focusgroupworkshop.

Hope to see some of you there!

Recent JUSP Presentations

Angela Conyers, Research Fellow at Evidence Base, was the keynote speaker at a conference at Stockholm University organised by the National Library of Sweden. The conference was on the evaluation of e-resources and there was great interest in the work being done here by the Journal Usage Statistics Portal (JUSP) which now has over 140 UK higher education and research council libraries as members. You can see a copy of the presentation below:


Angela also spoke about JUSP to an audience of publishers at a Digital Publishing Forum event on ‘Measuring the Reader’ organised by the Publishers’ Association and the Centre for Publishing at University College London. The presentation can be seen below:

More JUSP presentations and resources are available from the Events page of the JUSP website.

News from the LIS Research Coalition, Research in Librarianship Impact Evaluation Study, RiLIES1

The Research in Librarianship, Impact Evaluation study refers to two projects supported by the Library and Information Science Research Coalition (LIS).  RiLIES1 was completed in July 2011 and explored the extent to which funded librarianship research projects influence library practice in the UK.  The project focused particularly on factors that increase or hinder the impact of project outcomes on practice studying the features of five specific research projects.

A number of librarians, library and information science researchers contributed to the study including Evidence Base Research and Evaluation from Birmingham City University with their Evalued toolkit, (http://www.evalued.bcu.ac.uk/) designed to support information services staff in Higher Education Institutions with the evaluation of electronic information services (EIS).

The project findings have generated new insights relating to the roles of research leadership and sponsorship, highlighting preferences for face to face channels for the dissemination of research result and revealing for the first time the role of social media in raising awareness of research.  The RiLIES1 project report, enhancing the impact of LIS research projects can be viewed at http://lisresearchcoalition.files.wordpress.com/2012/02/rilies1_report.pdf.

The next phase of the project, RiLIES2 is almost complete and is concerned with the production of a series of outputs that will support the use and execution of research by librarians and information scientists.   If you’re interested in finding out more about the RiLIES2 project please view the blog posts on the http://lisresearch.org/rilies-project/.

For further information relating to the LIS Research Coalition please visit http://lisresearch.org/.