Back in March this year, we attended a  Sciencewise (the UK’s national centre for public dialogue in policy making involving science and technology issues) workshop. The session was for research practioners and covered its new framework for assessing the quality of public dialogue in public policy making. The debate was driven partly by the findings from evaluations of public dialogue projects supported by Sciencewise. These have identified specific questions about the rigour and quality of dialogue processes, and the implications of those questions for the extent to which dialogue results can be used with confidence to inform public… Continue reading

As professional regulator, the General Dental Council (GDC) has a duty to encourage dental professionals to raise concerns where they have witnessed something that they believe poses a risk to patients. The Report into the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust Public Inquiry (the ‘Francis Report’) highlighted numerous issues relating to the provision of health services, not least the fact that taking the decision to raise a concern in the workplace is often a difficult one, which may impact on health professionals’ personal and professional lives. One objective of the GDC’s response to the Francis Report was to review its guidance… Continue reading

As researchers we sometimes face asking people about issues and experiences which are very sensitive, highly personal and / or emotionally charged. Nevertheless, if handled carefully, such subjects can be successfully explored and understood.

We faced this challenge when asked by the General Medical Council to undertake research first with doctors who had been through their Fitness to Practise procedures and then with complainants who had been through that same process from the other side.

Understanding the issues

The GMC wanted to understand how their processes might be improved from both perspectives. This was clearly important work, however we faced… Continue reading

Following on from our first blog article outlining two focus group tricky characters to be aware of in groups, here are the remaining three:

# 3 – The Ranter

Angry participants can be keen to attend discussion groups as they have a particular issue they want to air. Their views need to be taken into account, but it is important to manage their behaviour as it can frighten other participants and derail the session. It’s vital that they do not undermine your authority as the facilitator. The best way to deal with them is to:


We wanted to share some tips on how to deal with different respondent types when facilitating group discussions. Here are the first two:

# 1 – The floor-hogger
This participant just loves to talk – about themselves!
Whilst they will have valid opinions, you don’t want them to dominate the room or sway the discussions. Some tactics you can use are:

  • Actively ask others in the group for their opinions.
  • Remind them that it is your job to make sure everyone has their say (as laid out in the ground rules, which you agreed at the start.)
  • Angle your… Continue reading

We have recently been doing a good deal of qualitative research in an online environment and for those of us who have been doing face to face interviews and groups for many years the move to online presents both benefits and challenges. We thought it might be useful to share our thoughts and experiences with you about.

When to Go Online
One of the benefits of online qualitative research is that it allows us to undertake, for example, group discussions with geographically dispersed and quite niche audiences. We are currently talking to a university client about doing some research with… Continue reading

YWT_wWe’re very proud to have been involved in The Young Women’s Trust (YWT) recent Inquiry about the lives of young women who are Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEET.)

Contrary to popular belief, there are many more women than men in this position. Women are also, on average, NEET for longer.

YWT asked us at Community Research to conduct a series of group discussions with women who were either currently NEET or who had been in the past. We spoke both to young women and to some who had now moved on and could give us insight into the… Continue reading

Conducting qualitative data analysis can be challenging and sometimes completely overwhelming. Researchers, when faced with endless transcriptions of discussion groups, interviews and workshops can find themselves literally drowning in data.

In this article, we offer you a life-raft with our 6 top tips:

1: Plan, plan, plan – think about the analysis process right at the start of the project. What are the hypotheses relating to the research objectives – what do you expect to find? Who is going to do the research fieldwork – will there be several of you so that you can brainstorm findings? How will the… Continue reading