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Bulletin Board Groups

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Bulletin Board Groups

Bulletin Board Groups, also known by other names such as Bulletin Board Focus Groups or forums, is a qualitative research methodology. It is an online technique, whereby participants take part in an online threaded discussion on a dedicated message board, over extended periods of time.

Typically around 30 individuals take part in Bulletin Board Groups, logging in to a certain URL with predetermined username and password.

Bulletin Board Groups are similar to traditional focus groups, as a moderator asks questions and the participants answer them. However, this time the questions are posted on to the online message board. The moderator can monitor the answers and probe for more information, and clarification to gain deeper insights. It can be set up so that the participants can see all the other participants’ answers therefore encouraging group discussion can be extremely useful. Alternatively, participants could be interviewed individually without access to other responses.

Bulletin Board Groups differ from online focus groups by the fact that they are asynchronous, rather than synchronous. Online focus groups mirror face-to face-groups where a small number of participants interact for a short period of time, while Bulletin Board Groups, as noted before, last much longer and interaction is not in real time.  

One advantage of this research methodology is the great flexibility that it wields. Moderators can post questions manually or set it up for questions to be asked automatically at pre-determined intervals.

Bulletin Board Groups can vary in length, some lasting a couple of days to a week, while others can be anything up to a month long. Participants can also respond at great length as they have a long time to think of their answers. Therefore, they can provide very detailed and useful answers. The fact that participants can log in at any time is also a major benefit, as this will negate the issues that may be caused by time zones during traditional international research methodologies, while busy individuals will not be pressured to respond when they have other things to do. This is particularly beneficial in some market spaces, such as with GPs/doctors, where it is hard to get participants together at one time due to their busy workload, or when conducting research across the country and participants do not have to be in the same location to take part.

Clients can also log in to Bulletin Board Groups to observe the discussions and post private messages to the moderator.

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