What is a moderator's guide in market research? A moderator's guide is a document used by a focus group moderator or interviewer to help standardize and add structure to the focus group or interview by asking a series a sequenced questions which are pre-written before the fieldwork. A moderator's guide is a useful tool to ensure the discussion stays on track and that all objectives are addressed for your client. The term moderator is used synonymous with interviewer for in-depth interviews (IDIs.)
Moderator's guides are the key to successful qualitative research. Typically at least a week is spent developing a good in-depth moderator's guide after listening to the client's needs. This is a very iterative process and usually involves a lot of back-and-forth drafts between a client and a consultant. This is essentially the open-ended survey document used by the moderator to ask good thought-provoking questions during the focus group or interview.
A good moderator's guide includes the following 4 components:
Moderator's Guide Component 1: An Introductory Page (for internal use only)
This labels the date(s) and location(s) of the groups, type(s) of groups, and the screening criteria used to recruit the participants.
Moderator's Guide Component 2: An Introduction or Warm-up
This is for the participants. This includes a little background from the moderator, ground-rules, timing of the group, what to expect, who the sponsor is, and what the results of the research are used for. It's always good to include a fun and interactive warm-up activity to help get people comfortable and talking from the onset.
Moderator's Guide Component 3: Section-by-Section Breakdown
A section-by-section breakdown of the focus groups according to objectives and themes of the research. Focus groups typically work like a funnel. You start the group with very general questions and topics before getting into the meat of the discussion around the middle of the group or towards the end. These sections are typically time-stamped to help guide the moderator through the 90 minute to 2 hour discussion.
Moderator's Guide Component 4: A Conclusion
This wraps up any loose-ends including final thoughts or comments. This is typically when honorariums are distributed.
Drive Research is a focus group firm in Syracuse, NY. Our company also offers moderator services in Upstate, NY. Questions about your upcoming focus group project? Contact us at [email protected] or by calling 315-303-2040.