Bulletin Board Focus Groups

Discover asynchronous online discussion boards

Online Bulletin Board Discussions are another option for online qualitative research. The discussion is held online, however rather than a specific block of time with everyone participating simultaneously, asynchronous online discussions are conducted over multiple days with participants sharing their thoughts at their convenience.

How does an asynchronous online discussion work?

During an online bulletin board discussion, questions are posted to a secure website and participants answer the posted questions each day. The moderator of the discussion logs in throughout the day to see how it is progressing and to ask clarifying questions. An asynchronous online discussion can last 3 – 5 days or several weeks, depending on the depth of the topic being discussed.

Asynchronous online discussion boards are desirable when working with participants who would find it difficult to schedule two consecutive hours to participate in a group discussion. The participants are encouraged to log in to the discussion at their leisure throughout the study.

Online discussion boards are also used to discuss sensitive or thought provoking topics. The participants feel a sense of anonymity and do not feel rushed to come up with answers. The responses can include not only their answer, but also why they responded as they did.

As with any form of online research, this methodology eliminates geographic barriers, allowing people from all across the world to participate together in a group discussion.

A drawback for asynchronous online discussion boards is that they may take up more of the participants’ time over multiple days versus a traditional one night discussion. Participation can taper off, as people get busy over the course of the study, and their participation becomes less of a personal priority.

What are the differences between synchronous online focus groups and asynchronous online discussions?

Synchronous Online Focus Groups

  • Occur within a 2 hour time frame
  • All participants are logged in at the same time
  • Move quickly – great when you are looking for immediate top of mind responses
  • Feedback from 8-10 respondents
  • Responses are short and brief

Asynchronous Online Discussion Boards

  • Run over 3-5 days or longer
  • Participants log in several times per day, at their convenience
  • Slower paced – allows responses to be carefully thought out
  • Feedback from 12-15 participants
  • Responses are detailed and answer the entire question