# Sampling Methods in Qualitative and Quantitative Research

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Sampling in Qualitative and Quantitative ResearchA practical how-to

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Key themesA famous sampling mistakeQuantitative assumptions in samplingQualitative assumptions in samplingTypes of samplingEthnographic samplingInterview samplingContent analysis samplingHow many?

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A famous sampling mistake

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A famous sampling mistake

Thats TrumanThey only asked rich, white people with telephones whod they vote for. Sadly, they published their mistake

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Even with proper samplingbeware!

predicting behavior on the basis of knowledge of attitude is a very hazardous venture. Meaning, predicting social behavior is often misguided. Keep that in mind!

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What exactly IS a sample?

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What exactly IS a sample?

A subset of the population, selected by either probability or non-probability methods. If you have a probability sample you simply know the likelihood of any member of the population being included (not necessarily that it is random.

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I want to know what causes something else.What do quant researchers worry about?

I really spend a lot of time wondering how to measure things.I wonder how small patterns generalize to big patterns.

I want to make sure others can repeat my findings.

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Assumptions of quantitative samplingWe want to generalize to the population.Random events are predictable.

ThereforeWe can compare random events to our results.Probability sampling is the best approach.

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I want to see the world through the eyes of my respondents.What do qual researchers worry about?I want to describe the context in a lot of detail. I want to show how social change occurs. Im interested in how things come to be.

I really want my research approach to be flexible and able to change.

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Assumptions of qualitative samplingSocial actors are not predictable like objects.Randomized events are irrelevant to social life.Probability sampling is expensive and inefficient.

ThereforeNon-probability sampling is the best approach.

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Types of samples

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Simple Random SampleGet a list or sampling frameThis is the hard part! It must not systematically exclude anyone. Remember the famous sampling mistake?Generate random numbersSelect one person per random number

Systematic Random SampleSelect a random number, which will be known as kGet a list of people, or observe a flow of people (e.g., pedestrians on a corner)Select every kth personCareful that there is no systematic rhythm to the flow or list of people.If every 4th person on the list is, say, rich or senior or some other consistent pattern, avoid this method

Stratified Random SampleSeparate your population into groups or strataDo either a simple random sample or systematic random sample from thereNote you must know easily what the strata are before attempting thisIf your sampling frame is sorted by, say, school district, then youre able to use this method

Multi-stage Cluster SampleGet a list of clusters, e.g., branches of a companyRandomly sample clusters from that listHave a list of, say, 10 branchesRandomly sample people within those branchesThis method is complex and expensive!

The Convenience SampleFind some people that are easy to find

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The Snowball SampleFind a few people that are relevant to your topic.Ask them to refer you to more of them.

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The Quota SampleDetermine what the population looks like in terms of specific qualities.Create quotas based on those qualities.Select people for each quota.

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The Theoretical Sample

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What about generalizing?Our findings have a margin of error of + or - 4%, 19 times out of 20.The average man is 35% more likely to choose this option over the average woman.

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Proviso in non-probability sampling: no generalizingOur findings have a margin of error of + or - 4%, 19 times out of 20.The average man is 35% more likely to choose this option over the average woman.

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Ethnographers samplePeoplePlacesContextsTimesEvents

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Interviewers samplePeoplePlacesTimes

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How many?Qualitative researchers seek saturation How many isnt the issue. Do you understand the phenomenon? Have you learned enough?Mere numbers are irrelevant. You want verstehn or deep understandingQuantitative researchers seek statistical validityCan you safely generalize to the population? Have you systematically excluded anyone? (See the famous sampling mistake!)

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Improving Response RatesPersonalize the invitationOffer money -- no strings attached!

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Copernicus ConsultingDesign research and strategyhttp://www.copernicusconsulting.net

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