The person who runs a group discussion or focus group. She or he is responsible for ensuring the smooth running of the discussion, managing the group process and dynamics, introducing relevant issues and ideas for response by the group, and for ensuring that the client's objectives are addressed. 'Moderator' is the usual term for a qualitative market researcher in the US, where moderation is often the major part of the researchers' role. In the UK, qualitative researchers often have a wider remit and moderation is only a part of their role - they thus tend to be called 'researchers'.
The term 'facilitator' is also used for a research group leader. The terms moderator and facilitator are sometimes used interchangeably but they relate to subtly different skill sets and applications. That is, 'facilitators' manage group processes and tasks, but are not responsible for the content and the outcomes of a group - so this term is often used for someone running a brainstorming or workshop group. 'Moderating' implies greater control, direction and responsibility for outcomes. There is some emerging preference for applying the term 'facilitator' to many forms of qualitative market research, because it suggests a more open and a less controlling position being taken by the researcher over participants.
Synonyms, Acronyms and Abbreviations