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This paper considers the contemporary use of focus groups as a method of data collection within qualitative research settings. The authors draw upon their own experiences of using focus groups in educational and 'community' user-group environments in order to provide an overview of recent issues and debates surrounding the deployment of focus group methods and to pick out specific areas of contention in relation to both their epistemological and practical implications. Accordingly, the paper reflects on some of the realities of 'doing' focus groups whilst, at the same time, highlighting common problems and dilemmas which beginning researchers might encounter in their application. In turn, the paper raises a number of related issues around which there appears to have been a lack of academic discussion to date. © 2006 Taylor & Francis.

Original publication




Journal article


International Journal of Research and Method in Education

Publication Date





23 - 37