Qualitative Research Methods
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Editor’s note: Peter DePaulo is an independent marketing research consultant and focus group moderator doing business as DePaulo Research Consulting, Montgomeryville, Pa. In a qualitative research project, how large should the sample be? How many focus group respondents, individual depth interviews (IDIs), or ethnographic observations are needed? We do have some informal rules of thumb. For example, Maria Krieger (in her white paper, “The Single Group Caveat,” Brain Tree Research & Consulting, 1991) advises that separate focus groups are needed for major segments such as men, women, and age groups, and that two or more groups are needed per segment because any one group may be idiosyncratic. Another guideline is to continue doing groups or IDIs until we seem to have reached a saturation point and are no longer hearing anything new.
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Authors of this page: Graham R. Gibbs and Celia Taylor Affiliation: University of Huddersfield