3 years ago

The use of focus group discussion methodology: Insights from two decades of application in conservation

Christina J. Derrick, Kerrie Wilson, Tobias O.Nyumba, Nibedita Mukherjee
Focus group discussion is frequently used as a qualitative approach to gain an in-depth understanding of social issues. The method aims to obtain data from a purposely selected group of individuals rather than from a statistically representative sample of a broader population. Even though the application of this method in conservation research has been extensive, there are no critical assessment of the application of the technique. In addition, there are no readily available guidelines for conservation researchers. Here, we reviewed the applications of focus group discussion within biodiversity and conservation research between 1996 and April 2017. We begin with a brief explanation of the technique for first-time users. We then discuss in detail the empirical applications of this technique in conservation based on a structured literature review (using Scopus). The screening process resulted in 170 articles, the majority of which (67%, n = 114,) were published between 2011 and 2017. Rarely was the method used as a stand-alone technique. The number of participants per focus group (where reported) ranged from 3 to 21 participants with a median of 10 participants. There were seven (median) focus group meetings per study. Focus group discussion sessions lasted for 90 (median) minutes. Four main themes emerged from the review: understanding of people's perspectives regarding conservation (32%), followed by the assessment of conservation and livelihoods practices (21%), examination of challenges and impacts of resource management interventions (19%) and documenting the value of indigenous knowledge systems (16%). Most of the studies were in Africa (n = 76), followed by Asia (n = 44), and Europe (n = 30). We noted serious gaps in the reporting of the methodological details in the reviewed papers. More than half of the studies (n = 101) did not report the sample size and group size (n = 93), whereas 54 studies did not mention the number of focus group discussion sessions while reporting results. Rarely have the studies provided any information on the rationale for choosing the technique. We have provided guidelines to improve the standard of reporting and future application of the technique for conservation.

Publisher URL: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/resolve/doi

DOI: 10.1111/2041-210X.12860

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