In addition to close-ended questionnaires, CARA can supplement your data collection needs with qualitative data gathered through focus groups, interviewing, and open-ended questions on surveys. For additional information on the use of qualitative data collection methods for your research needs, contact CARA researcher, Mary Gautier.

Focus Groups:

Focus groups are best suited for learning in some depth how people think or feel about a particular topic or issue and to get some feedback from them. A focus group is basically a guided discussion or conversation with a group of individuals selected because they are representative of some larger group. A CARA facilitator uses a protocol of questions and prompts to guide the discussion to bring out insights and understandings that cannot be discerned from the structured questions of conventional survey research. These responses are then analyzed for trend data, and presented in easy-to-read reports, as well as fully transcribed for your own analyses.


In some cases, the best form of qualitative data collection for your needs might be a series of interviews with key stakeholders or representative individuals. Interviews - one on one guided conversations - can allow for more in-depth study of responses and opinions. Because of their more intimate nature, interviews allow for more flexibility on topics, responses, and follow up by researchers. CARA's high standards of confidentiality protect the rights of the respondents while reporting key findings. Like focus groups, the data collected from interviews is aggregated and analyzed for trends or representative comments. Full transcripts of all interviews are also made available.

Open-Ended Questions:

In addition to a number of forced response questions, your data collection needs might include the use of open-ended questions. These questions give the respondents a prompt and space to write in a response. These responses may include more exploratory answers that were not anticipated in the close-ended questions as well as the opportunity for respondents to explain other responses on the survey and to give suggestions or comments to the organization collecting the data. Once trends in the responses are identified and analyzed, a full transcription of all responses is also made available for your organization.