This is a qualitative method used to collect data intended to supply information for a given research. In these groups, people are quizzed about their beliefs, opinions, attitudes and perception about various issues that are the point of research (Acocella 2011). The participants that will be involved with this focus group will come from a similar age group, and all of them will be students from universities in Dubai. These participants must have a shared interest in that they are avid users of social media platforms in their day to day communications. A sample of both male and female participants will be asked a set of questions regarding social media usage, and they will be expected to provide their opinions. There will be a moderator who will encourage the participants to converse and explore the issues at hand entirely.
Advantages of Focus Groups
Focus groups will bring various advantages to the research. Among them is that participants are accorded the opportunity of reflecting or reacting to the views of other people. This means that they will have an opportunity of learning other aspects of social media that they were not aware of initially. This makes for a good conversation. The dynamic discussion involved also tends to stimulate the thoughts of the participants regarding the research (Patton 2014). This would help in bringing up other issues regarding social media usage in the universities that were not considered initially. The method also makes it feasible to derive information by observing non-verbal responses such as body language and facial expressions.
Among the limitations that might arise while conducting the research is that it might become difficult to control discussions and manage the process due to conflicting attitudes and opinions (Acocella 2011). The climate of the group also affects the nature of the discussion that is likely to accrue. It is quite difficult to know how the climate will be.
Observation is another viable method for collecting information on this topic. It is more of a basic and fundamental method for obtaining information about many things. In this case, it will involve an observation of the people around me. This will include my friends and other class mates on their social media usage patterns. The observations will take place for a period of time. Certain individuals would be selected for this purpose. These are the people that I am close to, and I can observe their social media trends since we spend most of our time together. However, they all have to be college students within Dubai.
Advantages of Observation
The data collected in this case will be accurate and reliable since it is primary data. The method will also help to improve the precision of the results to be derived.
It will not be possible to study opinions using this method. This means that I will only derive information of the social media platform that is mostly used, but not have the ability to know why. The process will also involve a lot of time for the events to happen (Clark 2011).
Use of surveys is another possible method of research available for this study. Surveys can be administered through telephone interviews, mail surveys, online surveys and face-to-face interviews. In this case, face to face will be the most preferred option. Based on the nature of the information that ought to be gathered regarding social media usage among university students, it will allow for gathering more data. Some of the respondent’s concerns and queries will be answered in the face-to-face sessions hence reducing aspects of non-response. The questionnaires used in this case will be semi-structured. This means that it will contain both close-ended and open-ended questions that are in line with the study’s research questions. Participants to the study will be selected randomly to avoid any possible bias. The respondents must be university students that use social media.
Advantages of Surveys
Surveys are relatively easy to administer while conducting research, and makes it possible to collect data from a huge number of participants. It also presents the opportunity of asking numerous questions regarding the given subject and hence providing extensive flexibility when it comes to data analysis. A survey will also enable collection of varied data including opinions, beliefs, facts, attitudes and behaviour, which makes it suitable for this research (Bernard 2011).
Participants may not feel the encouragement of providing honest and accurate data (Woodside 2010). There is also a probability of data errors as a result of non-responses to the survey questions.
2.2 Chosen Method
The most suitable method for this research is the use of a focus group. Given the topic of discussion, there is a need to have a deep analysis of the issues at hand. Focus groups tend to stimulate the thoughts of the participants with regard to the research that is being conducted. This is because they are given an opportunity to reflect and react to other people’s opinions. At this point, the respondents will remember some aspects of social media that they would not have considered if they were just filling individual questionnaires. Having detailed information will help in answering the research questions favourably. A focus group will also help in saving time compared to the other proposed methods; observation and surveys (Acocella 2011). This will be more of a one-time thing and will definitely help in obtaining a broader range of information. A focus group also serves as the ideal method in terms of seeking clarification. Through observation and surveys, you might know that someone prefers a certain social platform, but there is no data that informs on the reasons behind that.
The target audience for the focus group will comprise students that are currently in universities within Dubai. The research intends to employ a diverse demographic. The students will come from 3 to 5 universities. There will be a balance between the gender, whereby the number of males and females should be equal. There is no regard to the current year of study for the students involved. A number of 10 to 15 participants will be preferred. This number is deemed suitable since it is easy to moderate. There will be a draft of questions that the group will be expected to discuss. Advertisements for the focus group will be placed in the relevant universities whose students will be chosen for the research. Interested parties will reach out to the relevant number. Here, participants will be selected on the basis of first come, first served. The gender balance will be adhered to during the selection process. Arrangements for the meeting location will be made, and all the selected respondents will be duly informed.
Unlike various forms of research, a focus group might end up feeling quite informal. Actually, the best groups might seem more like a conglomeration of friends (Hammersley and Anna 2012). As a result, it is of high importance to remember that varied ethical requirements apply while conducting a focus group research.
In this case, the potential ethical issues include informed consent. This will entail informing the participants that they are part of a research activity. It will be important to disclose details regarding the research, such as what the research is meant for. Sometimes it might be tempting for a researcher to lie to the participants the reasons for conducting the research. This is because some reasons might be deemed to create more motivation than others (Zimmer 2010). Participants are supposed to agree to be part of a research when they are fully aware of what is required of them and the consequences that are likely to accrue.
Another ethical issue that is likely to accrue with this study is confidentiality. Apart from communication purposes, people use social media for other reasons. These reasons are likely to accrue at the onset of the discussions. Some revelations would be good if they remained confidential and are not made subjects of the public. All the participants should be informed of the need to keep the information discussed in this group as confidential as possible. When the participants are aware of the confidentiality of the process, they will be able to provide as much information as possible regarding their social media usage. There is also a need to respect all the participants involved in the focus group. People tend to be different, and there are those that share more information than others. As a moderator, it is a good practice not to pressure participants to speak when they do not feel like doing so. Everyone should speak at their own free will. The moderator is supposed to make the discussion lively in order to elicit participants to participate willingly.
It will also be ethical to seek permission from the relevant individuals where advertisements for the focus groups will be placed. Different universities have different rules when it comes to placement of advertisements or notices in different areas within the institution. It is important to ensure that the prescribed regulations have been adhered to by contacting the relevant authorities before placement of the advertisements takes place. This will also ensure that the advertisements are not removed, and they reach the target audience.
The research is expected to cover a period of three months. Generally, collecting the data for the study will not take a long time since it involves a focus group that is going to meet once. More time will be consumed in the recruitment of respondents for the focus group. This is because they have to come from three to five different universities, and the gender balance has to be equal. Therefore, the first month will involve recruitment of potential respondents. I will have to visit several universities physically in order to place some ads informing the relevant students of the research. I will hand out several flyers too. The first half of the second month will involve sorting the names of the respondents that showed interest. The second half will involve choosing a suitable venue that offers convenience for all respondents. The focus group will be carried out during this period too. The data collected will be analysed in the third month, and the report will be written during this period too.
The budget for the research will involve recruiting costs and facility costs. Recruiting costs will involve costs incurred in preparation for advertising materials; the posters that will be placed in the universities and flyers. This is likely to cost around………….……….There is also the need to offer an incentive for the participants in order to motivate their interest in the research. I will offer…………………..(write what you’ll offer over here). Facility costs, on the other hand, will involve the cost of renting a social space where the discussion will take place. This will cost around………………………… The participants will also be offered some refreshments upon their arrival. The figure is estimated to be around………………
The use of social media has gained prominence over the years. The ease of access to the internet has made this a possibility. Here, in United Arab Emirates, over 50% of the population is active on a variety of social media platforms. Ascertaining the most preferred social media platform by university students is a topic that has not been researched extensively. This research will help in adding knowledge with this regard. Marketing companies will find this information very useful since they will have an idea on the platforms to use while trying to reach university students. The research will use a focus group for the collection of data. The participants involved with the study will be university students from different institutions in Dubai. The students must be avid users of social media. The research is expected to take a period of three months.
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