The analysis of interaction in online focus groups
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Watson, M., Peacock, S. & Jones, D. (2006) The analysis of interaction in online focus groups. International Journal of Therapy and Rehabilitation, 13(12), pp. 551-557.
Computer mediated communication has enabled researchers to transfer the focus group method to the online environment. This has important practical, ethical and theoretical implications including the challenge of maximizing and analysing focus group interaction in a faceless medium, devoid of visual and vocal cues. In the online setting where written communication is the only means of understanding data, interaction offers the researcher a critical window to interpret meaning and to understand better what is happening in the social context of the group. A schema of questions has been used in this study to draw attention to this interaction and to examine the transcripts of online focus groups, which sought to investigate the lived experiences of sufferers of repetitive strain injury. Five asynchronous online focus groups were conducted on a closed website specifically created for the study. Online focus group interaction was found to generate rich qualitative data. More studies are required to explore what is potentially an innovative tool for qualitative researchers.