Focus Groups and Surveys as Complementary Research Methods: Examples from a Study of the Consequences of Family Size in Thailand

Publication Abstract

Wolff, Brent, John E. Knodel, and Werasit Sittitrai. "Focus Groups and Surveys as Complementary Research Methods: Examples from a Study of the Consequences of Family Size in Thailand." PSC Research Report No. 91-213. 5 1991.

This paper addresses theoretical and practical issues of combining qualitative and quantitative methods in observational research design, with particular emphasis on the complementary use of focus groups and sample surveys. Focus group and survey components may be ordered sequentially or concurrently and combined to achieve different research objectives. The article focuses on the concurrent use of these two methods, using a study of the socioeconomic consequences of family size in rural Thailand conducted in 1988 to illustrate the central themes and provide specific examples. In conjunction with a survey, focus groups can be used to illustrate or confirm survey results, elaborate or clarify survey findings, or to suggest new explanatory categories not captured by the survey or unanticipated in the original research design. The success of this triangulation method depends on the ability of the research design to accomodate the respective strengths and weaknesses of both methods. The potential conflict between different epistemological assumptions implicit in qualitative and quantitative methodologies is also discussed.

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