Validity issues in the application of selected qualitative social research methods
This paper investigated the validity concerns in the application of Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) and One-on-one Qualitative Interviews as forms of qualitative social research methods with the objective of unraveling the validity concerns embedded in their application.In order to reach this objective, theeffectiveness of qualitative social research methods – FGDs and One-on-one Qualitative Interviews– is put on the line by empirically comparing and contrasting data from two FGD sessions and one-on-one interviews to ascertain the consistency in terms of data retrieved from participants using these two data collection methods. The study is guided by the hypothesis that data obtained via FGDs may be influenced by groupthink rather than individual participant’s perspectives. A critical scrutiny of the data that emanated from the two organized FGDs departed quite significantly from the data that was elicited from the one-on-one qualitative interviews. The difference in responses confirms that FGDs are not fully insulated from the shackles of groupthink. It is recommended, among others,that though FGD can stand unilaterally as a research methodology for non-sensitive topics with no direct personal implications forparticipants; researchers should be encouraged to adopt FGD in league with other methods in a form of triangulation or mixed methodological approach for a
more quality data, bearing in mind the central role occupied by data in the social scientific research process.
Key Words: Focus Group Discussion, One-on-One Qualitative Interview, Social Research Methodology, Qualitative Data, and Groupthink.
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