How are focus groups used in sociology and political science?*

Image: International Institute for Communication and Development (IICD)

 

A 2015 study by Jennifer Cyr published in the Sociological Methods & Research journal analyzed the use of focus groups in four of the leading journals in sociology and political science. This was the percentage of articles that applied focus groups from 2004 to 2013:

  • American Political Science Review – 0.47%
  • American Journal of Political Science – 0.34%
  • American Sociological Review – 0.72%
  • American Journal of Sociology – 1.42%

Focus groups are more common in sociology than in political science. Of all articles from January 2004 to July 2013, sociology journals published eight articles with focus groups; while in political science journals, four were published during the same period. The results show that this technique is little used in these disciplines, since the number of published articles that use focus groups is very small.

Source: Cyr, J. (2016). The Pitfalls and Promise of Focus Groups as a Data Collection Method. Sociological Methods & Research, 45(2), 231-259. https://doi.org/10.1177/0049124115570065

Transparency

The articles published in these journals that applied focus groups have some transparency problems in their research, among them:

  • No article included the complete list of questions applied.
  • Five articles did not include the number of focus groups applied.
  • Three articles did not specify how many people participated in the focus groups.

Contribution

We reviewed the last two issues of the aforementioned journals to identify how many articles had used focus groups. We discovered that none of the four journals used focus groups in the research published in their two most recent issues.

References

Cyr, J. (2016). The Pitfalls and Promise of Focus Groups as a Data Collection Method. Sociological Methods & Research, 45 (2), 231-259. https://doi.org/10.1177/0049124115570065