Virtual Focus Groups: New Frontiers in Research

  • Lyn Turney Swinburne University of Technology
  • Catherine Pocknee Swinburne University of Technology


New information and communication technologies in the form of learning management systems provide unique and inventive opportunities for qualitative researchers. Their intrinsic ability to record discursive data in text format accurately and to provide safe, secure, and anonymous environments for participants makes them amenable for use as advanced research tools. In this article, the authors report on a collaborative project that tested the potential of online discussion boards for use in virtual focus groups. What the researchers found was that not only was the method theoretically sound, it actually enhanced their ability to connect with difficult-to-access populations that were disparately spread.