What is a Discussion Guide?

In qualitative research, a discussion guide is a document or outline that guides the interviewer or moderator in conducting a structured interview or focus group. The discussion guide includes a set of open-ended questions or prompts that the interviewer or moderator uses to facilitate a conversation with participants.

The purpose of a discussion guide is to ensure that the meeting or focus group covers all relevant topics and issues related to the research question or objectives while still allowing for the exploration of new or unexpected themes that may arise during the conversation.

A well-designed discussion guide should be flexible enough to allow for spontaneous discussion while still providing a clear structure and focus to the conversation. It should also be designed to promote participant engagement, encourage participants to share their thoughts and experiences, and allow for the exploration of diverse perspectives and opinions.

Discussion guides are a common tool in qualitative research methods such as focus groups, individual interviews, and ethnography. They are particularly useful when researching complex or sensitive topics where a structured conversation is necessary to ensure that all participants are heard and to help the moderator stay on track with the research goals.