An Overview of Sampling Methods in Research

by | Jan 25, 2021

You may have heard of sampling. It’s a cost-effective and efficient means of obtaining opinions or observations from a broad and diverse range of people. These people are selected from a particular group to gather more information and insights about the whole group.

Did you know that sampling helps considerably in research? It is among the most crucial factors determining the accuracy and reliability of your research results. It’s important to note that if something goes wrong with the sample you have selected, the final output will reflect it. Keep in mind that it is not practical to study an entire population due to feasibility and cost constraints. This is why it is best to select a representative sample for observation, assessment and analysis from the relevant population.  

There is no doubt that sampling offers many benefits as a useful market research tool. It helps entrepreneurs as well as start-ups looking to understand the target market more accurately.

You likely know that it is quite expensive, laborious and time-consuming to obtain data from the whole population comprising your target market. However, by carefully and meticulously sampling your demographic, you can build an accurate and reliable picture of the target market.

Population vs. Sample

A population will include all members or elements from a specified group. This means it includes all possible measurements or outcomes that are of interest. So, we can say that the population is a full set of elements possessing a standard or specific parameter. And it is worth noting that the exact population in a study will depend on its scope and objectives.

Did you know that in research, the population does not necessarily need to be human? Instead, the population can be any data parameter that has a common trait. In contrast, a sample typically consists of a few observations that you draw from the population.

As a result, it is a subset or part of the population. We can also define the sample as a group of elements that took part in the study. This is why a sample is a much smaller part of the entire population. The best samples are often representative of the entire population in any study.

Sampling Methods

Cluster Sampling

You can target a sample in your target demographic by using specific demographic groups, also known as “clusters.” The best thing is that it is a reasonably quick sampling technique if you are looking to conduct your research without complete information on your population.

You can identify clusters using various details and attributes, such as sex, age or location. However, keep in mind that this technique can prove quite costly if the clusters that you have selected are vast, and you have a higher risk of sampling errors.

Stratified Sampling

This sampling method divides the various elements in your population into many small subgroups, also called strata, based on similarity.

The division makes sure that the elements in the group are similar or homogeneous. After that, you will randomly select the elements from all of these strata. Keep in mind that you need to have some preliminary information regarding the population to create subgroups.

Systematic Sampling

In this sampling method, you will select people from a bigger population according to two conditions, a fixed and periodic interval and a random starting point. The benefit of this technique is ensuring that your sample is well spread throughout your target population.

Keep in mind that it can be time-consuming and costly if your chosen sample isn’t conveniently located.

Convenience Sampling

For this method, you will select the sample based on availability. Did you know that convenience sampling is probably the simplest sampling method? This is because participants are usually selected based on the willingness to participate and availability. This sampling method has the advantage that it is usually less expensive than the other methods. Moreover, participants are readily available which normally translates to quicker data collection turnaround times.

Quota Sampling

Like other methods, this technique aims to obtain a representative and reliable sample of the whole population. In most cases, you will divide your entire population using some key variables and then draw a sample using each variable.  

Although this technique is advantageous because it is relatively straightforward, keep in mind that the chosen sample might not be representative of many other characteristics and traits that you did not consider.