Traditionally, the term
“research” is commonly understood as a systematic cognitive activity
aimed at obtaining new knowledge, information, and studying certain problems.
In its turn, sociological research allows the
researcher to move forward by confirming or refuting the conjectures and
guesses, collecting and evaluating information about the phenomenon being
studied (Marsh, 1982). However, the reality is so tricky (Babbie, 2001).
Sometimes even, what we are sure in fact may be wrong. The researcher always
has a question about what is already known about the nature of the object under
study, and consequently what possibilities exist for its further study (Gomm,
For this reason, the root of any social research is philosophical beliefs. The
traditions of these philosophical views provide the basis for quantitative and
qualitative methods. Being the most common methods in sociological
research, these approaches use large scope of different methods. In particular,
focus groups (qualitative method) and surveys (quantitative method) are the
most effective and broadly applied. Nevertheless, the most important part of the research is the
obtained result. The judgment of research will depend on how much
is the data from research reliable, is it valid or not. To obtain proper results, it is crucial to carefully design the research and, most
importantly, choose the right method.
on the above contestation, this essay aims to compare and contrast focus groups
and surveys. The main part of essay starts by looking in details philosophical
components of research such as epistemology and ontology. Furthermore, the
different perspectives of these concepts will be critically analysed in the
relation to the qualitative and quantitative methodologies. Within the
framework of these methods, next part will be devoted to the discussion of
focus groups and surveys. These two methods will be compared and contrasted
focusing on philosophical assumption, research design and application of
validity, reliability and generalizability. In Section III the practical
application of focus groups and surveys through the examples of research about
poverty will be demonstrated. Further part will provide analysis of research
examples through the discussion of advantages and limitations of surveys and
focus groups. Overall summary will be provided in Section IV.