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Dr. V. K. MAHESHWARI Former Principal K.L.D.A.V. College ROORKEE (INDIA) Dr. SURAKSHA BANSAL Principal Gandhi Inst. of professional &technical studies MEERUT (INDIA)
Sampling is the act, process, or technique of selecting a suitable sample, or a representative part of a population for the purpose of determining parameters or characteristics of the whole population The process of defining a representative subpopulation to study is called sampling. Research is an Endeavour to study or obtain knowledge through the use of a systematic approach with the intent of clarification. This includes activities which attempt to discover new facts, information, or new applications of existing knowledge It is a careful or diligent search, studious inquiry or examination especially investigation or experimentation aimed at the discovery and interpretation of facts, revision of accepted theories or laws in the light of new facts or practical application of such new or revised theories or laws, it can also be the collection of information about a particular subject.
The Concept of Sample
Most people intuitively understand the idea of sampling. The basic idea of sampling is that by selecting some of the elements in a population, we may draw conclusions about the entire population.
A sample is a finite part of a statistical population whose properties are studied to gain information about the whole (Webster, 1985). When dealing with people, it can be defined as a set of respondents (people) selected from a larger population for the purpose of a survey. Researchers have developed a number of techniques where only a small portion of the total population is sampled, and attempts to generalize the results and conclusions for the entire population are made In research it would be ideal to include the entire population when conducting a study; this enables a generalization to be made about the results to the population as a whole. In some cases this has been possible, but not always.
Sometimes, the entire population will be sufficiently small, and the researcher can include the entire population in the study. This type of research is called a census study because data is gathered on every member of the population. Usually, the population is too large for the researcher to attempt to survey all of its members. A small, but carefully chosen sample can be used to represent the population. The sample reflects the characteristics of the population from which it is drawn. Since it will not be practical to recruit every human for the study, it is necessary to define an accessible population. The accessible population is a subset of the target population that reflects specific characteristics with respect to age, gender, diagnosis, etc., and who are accessible for study. Cox and West describe a population as a well-defined group of people or objects that share common characteristics. A population in a research study is a group of individual’s persons, objects, or items from which samples are taken for measurement for example a population of presidents or professors, books or students. A population is group about which some information is sought. Most researchers cannot include all members of the population in their studies and must resort to limiting the number of subjects to only a sample from the population It is incumbent on the researcher to clearly define the target population. There are no strict rules to follow, and the researcher must rely on logic and judgment. The population is defined in keeping with the objectives of the study. A basic principle of sampling is that every member of the population must have an equal chance of being included in the sample
The purpose of sampling?
The cost of studying an entire population to answer a specific question is usually prohibitive in terms of time, money and resources. Therefore, a subset of subjects representative of a given population must be selected; this is called sampling. The concepts involved in selecting subjects to represent the larger population are presented A sample is a small subset of the population that has been chosen to be studied . The sample should represent the population and have sufficient size so can be subjected to a fair statistical analysis. Unfortunately, all samples deviate from the true nature of the overall population by a certain amount due to chance variations in drawing the sample's few cases from the population's many possible members. This is called sampling error and is distinguished from non-chance variations due to determining factors. Determining factors include items such as biased sampling procedures, effects of independent variables, research conditions and other causal agents or circumstances. There would be no need for statistical theory if a census rather than a sample was always used to obtain information about populations. But a census may not be practical and is almost never economical.
Main reasons for sampling
There are six main reasons for sampling instead of doing a census. These are; -Economy -Timeliness -The large size of many populations -Inaccessibility of some of the population -Destructiveness of the observation –accuracy
The economic advantage Obviously, taking a sample requires fewer resources than a census. For example, let us assume that you are one of the very curious students around. You have heard so much about the famous I.I.T and now that you are there, you want to hear from the insiders. You want to know what all the students at I.I.T. think about the quality of teaching they receive, you know that all the students are different so they are likely to have different perceptions and you believe you must get all these perceptions so you decide because you want an indepth view of every student, you will conduct personal interviews with each one of them and you want the results in 20 days only, let us assume this particular time you are doing your research Cornell has only 2000 students and those who are helping are so fast at the interviewing art that together you can interview at least 10 students per person per day in addition to your 18 credit hours of course work. You will require 100 research assistants for 20 days and since you are paying them minimum wage of Rs5.00 per hour for ten hours (Rs50.00) per person per day, you will require Rs100000 just to complete the interviews, analysis will just be impossible. You may decide to hire additional assistants to help with the analysis at another Rs.100000 and so on assuming you have that amount on your account.
As unrealistic as this example is, it does illustrate the very high cost of census. For the type of information desired, a small wisely selected sample of I.I.T students can serve the purpose. You don`t even have to hire a single assistant. You can complete the interviews and analysis on your own. Rarely does a circustance require a census of the population, and even more rarely does one justify the expense.
The time factor A sample may provide you with needed information quickly. For example, you are a Doctor and a disease has broken out in a village within your area of jurisdiction, the disease is contagious and it is killing within hours nobody knows what it is. You are required to conduct quick tests to help save the situation. If you try a census of those affected, they may be long dead when you arrive with your results. In such a case just a few of those already infected could be used to provide the required information. The very large populations Many populations about which inferences must be made are quite large. For example, consider the population of high school students of disadvantage group of society in India, a group numbering 4,000,000. The responsible agency in the government has to plan for how they will be absorbed into the different departments and even the private sector. The employers would like to have specific knowledge about the student’s plans in order to make compatible plans to absorb them during the coming year. But the big size of the population
makes it physically impossible to conduct a census. In such a case, selecting a representative sample may be the only way to get the information required from high school students. The partly accessible populations There are some populations that are so difficult to get access to that only a sample can be used. Like people in prison, like crashed airplanes in the deep seas, presidents e.t.c. The inaccessibility may be economic or time related. Like a particular study population may be so costly to reach like the population of planets that only a sample can be used. In other cases, a population of some events may be taking too long to occur that only sample information can be relied on. For example natural disasters like a flood that occurs every 100 years or take the example of the flood that occurred in Noah’s days. It has never occurred again. The destructive nature of the observation sometimes the very act of observing the desired characteristic of a unit of the population destroys it for the intended use. Good examples of this occur in quality control. For example to test the quality of a fuse, to determine whether it is defective, it must be destroyed. To obtain a census of the quality of a lorry load of fuses, you have to destroy all of them. This is contrary to the purpose served by quality-control testing. In this case, only a sample should be used to assess the quality of the fuses Accuracy and sampling A sample may be more accurate than a census. A sloppily conducted census can provide less reliable information than a carefully obtained sample.
Concerns in Statstical Sampling
. There are some distinct advantages and disadvantages in using samples. Advantages include that sampling involves a smaller number of subjects and is more time efficient, less costly and potentially more accurate (since it is more feasible to maintain control over a smaller number of subjects). Disadvantages include potential bias in the selection of subjects, which may lead to error in interpretation of results and decrease in ability to generalize the results beyond the subjects actually studied.
Representativeness This is the primary concern in statistical sampling. The sample obtained from the population must be representative of the same population. This can be accomplished by using randomized statistical sampling techniques or probability sampling like cluster sampling and stratified sampling.
The reason behind representativeness being the primary concern in statistical sampling is that it allows the researcher to draw conclusions for the entire population. If the sample is not representative of the population, conclusions cannot be drawn since the results that the researcher obtained from the sample will be different from the results if the entire population is to be tested. Practicability
Practicability of statistical sampling techniques allows the researchers to estimate the possible number of subjects that can be included in the sample, the type of sampling technique, the duration of the study, the number of materials, ethical concerns, availability of the subjects/samples, the need for the study and the amount of workforce that the study demands. All these factors contribute to the decisions of the researcher regarding to the study design
Bias and Error in Sampling A sample is expected to mirror the population from which it comes, however, there is no guarantee that any sample will be precisely representative of the population from which it comes. Chance may dictate that a disproportionate number of untypical observations will be made. In practice, it is rarely known when a sample is unrepresentative and should be discarded. Sampling error Sampling error is the degree to which a sample might differ from the population. When inferring to the population, results are reported plus or minus the sampling error What can make a sample unrepresentative of its population? One of the most frequent causes is sampling error. Sampling error comprises the differences between the sample and the population that are due solely to the particular units that happen to have been selected. The more dangerous error is the less obvious sampling error against which nature offers very little protection. An example would be like a sample in which the average height is overstated by only one inch or two rather than one foot which is more obvious. It is the unobvious error that is of much concern. There are two basic causes for sampling error. One is chance: That is the error that occurs just because of bad luck. This may result in untypical choices. Unusual units in a population do exist and there is always a possibility that an abnormally large number of them will be chosen. The second cause of sampling is sampling bias. Sampling bias is a tendency to favor the selection of units that have particular characteristics.
Sampling bias is usually the result of a poor sampling plan. The most notable is the bias of non response when for some reason some units have no chance of appearing in the sample. Non sampling error (measurement error) The other main cause of unrepresentative samples is non sampling error. This type of error can occur whether a census or a sample is being used. Like sampling error, non sampling error may either be produced by participants in the statistical study or be an innocent by product of the sampling plans and procedures. A non sampling error is an error that results solely from the manner in which the observations are made. The simplest example of non sampling error is inaccurate measurements due to malfunctioning instruments or poor procedures. For example, consider the observation of human weights. If persons are asked to state their own weights themselves, no two answers will be of equal reliability. The people will have weighed themselves on different scales in various states of poor calibrations. An individual’s weight fluctuates diurnally by several pounds, so that the time of weighing will affect the answer. The scale reading will also vary with the person’s state of undress. Responses therefore will not be of comparable validity unless all persons are weighed under the same circumstances. In surveys of personal characteristics, unintended errors may result from: -The manner in which the response is elicited -The social desirability of the persons surveyed -The purpose of the study -The personal biases of the interviewer or survey writer The interviewers effect No two interviewers are alike and the same person may provide different answers to different interviewers. The manner in which a question is formulated can also result in inaccurate responses. Individuals tend to provide false answers to particular questions. The respondent effect Respondents might also give incorrect answers to impress the interviewer. This type of error is the most difficult to prevent because it results from out right deceit on the part of the responder. It is important to acknowledge that certain psychological factors induce incorrect responses and great care must be taken to design a study that minimizes their effect. Knowing the study purpose Knowing why a study is being conducted may create incorrect responses. A classic example is the question: What is your income? If a government agency is asking, a different figure may be provided than the respondent would give on an application for a home mortgage. One way to guard against such bias is to camouflage the study’s goals; Another remedy is to make the questions very specific, allowing no room for personal interpretation. Induced bias
Finally, it should be noted that the personal prejudices of either the designer of the study or the data collector may tend to induce bias. In designing a questionnaire, questions may be slanted in such a way that a particular response will be obtained even though it is inaccurate
Types of Sampling Models
The two types of sampling methods, probability and nonprobability, are defined and presented with their respective types In Nonprobability sampling, members are selected from the population in some nonrandom manner. These include convenience sampling, judgment sampling, quota sampling, and snowball sampling Nonprobability sampling includes convenience sampling, consecutive sampling, judgmental sampling, quota sampling and snowball sampling In nonprobability sampling, the degree to which the sample differs from the population remains unknown In probability samples, each member of the population has a known non-zero probability of being selected. Probability methods include random sampling, systematic sampling, and stratified sampling. Probability sampling includes simple random sampling, systematic sampling, stratified sampling, cluster sampling and disproportional sampling The advantage of probability sampling is that sampling error can be calculated The convenient sample
Convenience sampling is probably the most commonly used technique in research today . With convenience sampling, subjects are selected because of their convenient accessibility to the researcher. These subjects are chosen simply because they are the easiest to obtain for the study. This technique is easy, fast and usually the least expensive and troublesomeA convenience sample results when the more convenient elementary units are chosen from a population for observation. Convenience sampling is used in exploratory research where the researcher is interested in getting an inexpensive approximation of the truth. As the name implies, the sample is selected because they are convenient. This Nonprobability method is often used during preliminary research efforts to get a gross estimate of the results, without incurring the cost or time required to select a random sample
Consecutive sampling is a strict version of convenience sampling where every available subject is
selected, i.e., the complete accessible population is studied. This is the best choice of the Nonprobability sampling techniques since by studying everybody available, a good representation of the overall population is possible in a reasonable period of time ..
The judgment sample Judgmental sampling, also called purposive sampling, is another form of convenience sampling where subjects are handpicked from the accessible population . This technique leaves much to be desired because of its inherent bias. Subjects usually are selected using judgmental sampling because the researcher believes that certain subjects are likely to benefit or be more compliant A judgement sample is obtained according to the discretion of someone who is familiar with the relevant characteristics of the population. Judgment sampling is a
common nonprobability method. The researcher selects the sample based on judgment. This is usually and extension of convenience sampling Disproportional Sampling Disproportional sampling is a method that facilitates the difficulty encountered with stratified samples of unequal size (2). Suppose, for example, suppose an educational grant has been secured that will support study of only 200 members (subjects) and that the available population in the Academy is 2,000 individuals, in the available population of 2,000 there are 1,700 males and 300 females. Since the 200 subjects needed for the study comprise only 10 percent of the available population, then how many of each gender are required? Simple proportioning suggests that 17/20 (85 percent) of the 200 be males and 3/20 (15 percent) be females. This would result in approximately 170 males and 30 females. The small number of females probably would not provide adequate representation for drawing conclusions about the entire membership. Fortunately, this effect can be controlled by weighting the data so the males receive a proportionally larger mathematical representation in the analysis of scores than the females. Calculating proportional weights involves determining the probability that any one male or female Academician will be selected. Selecting 100 male Academicians involves a probability of 100 out of 1,700, or 1 of 17 (1/17). The probability of any one female Academician being selected is 100 out of 300, or 1 of 3 (1/3). Therefore, each female has a probability of selection more than five times that of any male Next, the assigned weights are determined by taking the inverse of these probabilities. The weight for male scores is 17/1 17, and that for females is 3/1 = 3. This means that when the data are analyzed, each male's score will be multiplied by 17, and each female's score will be multiplied by 3. In any mathematical manipulation of the data, the total of the males' scores would be larger than the total of the females' scores. Random sampling The random sample is the purest form of probability sampling. Each member of the population has an equal and known chance of being selected. When there are very large populations, it is often difficult or impossible to identify every member of the population, so the pool of available subjects becomes biased. This may be the most important type of sample. A random sample allows a known probability that each elementary unit will be chosen. For this reason, it is sometimes referred to as a probability sample. This is the type of sampling that is used in lotteries and raffles. For example, if you want to select 10 players randomly from a population of 100, you can write their names, fold them up, mix them thoroughly then pick ten. In this case, every name had any equal chance of being picked.
Types of random Samples
A simple random sample A simple random sample is obtained by choosing elementary units in search a way that each unit in the population has an equal chance of being selected. A simple random sample is free from sampling bias. However, using a random number table to choose the elementary units can be cumbersome. If the sample is to be collected by a person untrained in statistics, then instructions may be misinterpreted and selections may be made improperly. Instead of using a least of random numbers, data collection can be simplified by selecting say every 10th or 100th unit after the first unit has been chosen randomly as discussed below. such a procedure is called systematic random sampling. A systematic random sample Systematic sampling is often used instead of random sampling. It is also called an Nth name selection technique. After the required sample size has been calculated, every Nth record is selected from a list of population members. As long as the list does not contain any hidden order, this sampling method is as good as the random sampling method. Its only advantage over the random sampling technique is simplicity. Systematic sampling is frequently used to select a specified number of records from a computer file A systematic random sample is obtained by selecting one unit on a random basis and choosing additional elementary units at evenly spaced intervals until the desired number of units is obtained. For example, there are 100 students in your class. You want a sample of 20 from these 100 and you have their names listed on a piece of paper may be in an alphabetical order. If you choose to use systematic random sampling, divide 100 by 20, you will get 5. Randomly select any number between 1 and five. Suppose the number you have picked is 4, that will be your starting number. So student number 4 has been selected. From there you will select every 5th name until you reach the last one, number one hundred. You will end up with 20 selected students. A stratified sample Stratified sampling is commonly used probability method that is superior to random sampling because it reduces sampling error. A stratum is a subset of the population that share at least one common characteristic. Examples of stratums might be males and females, or managers and non-managers. The researcher first identifies the relevant stratums and their actual representation in the population. Random sampling is then used to select a sufficient number of subjects from each stratum. "Sufficient" refers to a sample size large enough for us to be reasonably confident that the stratum represents the population. Stratified sampling is often used when one or more of the stratums in the population have a low incidence relative to the other stratums. A stratified sample is obtained by independently selecting a separate simple random sample from each population stratum. A population can be divided into different groups may be based on some characteristic or variable like income of education. Like any body with ten years of education will be in group A, between 10 and 20 group B and between 20 and 30
group C. These groups are referred to as strata. You can then randomly select from each stratum a given number of units which may be based on proportion like if group A has 100 persons while group B has 50, and C has 30 you may decide you will take 10% of each. So you end up with 10 from group A, 5 from group B and 3 from group C. Quota sampling Quota sampling is the Nonprobability equivalent of stratified sampling. Like stratified sampling, the researcher first identifies the stratums and their proportions as they are represented in the population. Then convenience or judgment sampling is used to select the required number of subjects from each stratum. This differs from stratified sampling, where the stratums are filled by random sampling Quota sampling is a nonprobability technique used to ensure equal representation of subjects in each layer of a stratified sample grouping A cluster sample A cluster sample is obtained by selecting clusters from the population on the basis of simple random sampling. The sample comprises a census of each random cluster selected. For example, a cluster may be some thing like a village or a school, a state. So you decide all the elementary schools in New Delhi State are clusters. You want 20 schools selected. You can use simple or systematic random sampling to select the schools, and then every school selected becomes a cluster. If you interest is to interview teachers on their opinion of some new program which has been introduced, then all the teachers in a cluster must be interviewed. Though very economical cluster sampling is very susceptible to sampling bias. Like for the above case, you are likely to get similar responses from teachers in one school due to the fact that they interact with one another. Cluster sampling is a method used to enable random sampling to occur while limiting the time and costs that would otherwise be required to sample from either a very large population or one that is geographically diverse. Using this method, a one- or two-level randomization process is used the important element in this process is that each one of the criteria have an equal opportunity to be chosen, with no researcher or facility bias. Purposeful Sampling Purposeful sampling selects information rich cases for indepth study. Size and specific cases depend on the study purpose. There are about 16 different types of purposeful sampling. They are briefly described below for you to be aware of them. The details can be found in Patton (1990)Pg 169-186. Extreme and deviant case sampling This involves learning from highly unusual manifestations of the phenomenon of interest, suchas outstanding successes, notable failures, top of the class, dropouts, exotic events, crises.
This is information rich cases that manifest the phenomenon intensely, but not extremely, such as good students, poor students, above average/below average. Maximum variation sampling this involves purposefully picking a wide range of variation on dimensions of interest. This documents unique or diverse variations that have emerged in adapting to different conditions. It also identifies important common patterns that cut across variations. Like in the example of interviewing Cornell students, you may want to get students of different nationalities, professional backgrounds, cultures, work experience and the like. Homogeneous sampling This one reduces variation, simplifies analysis, facilitates group interviewing. Like instead of having the maximum number of nationalities as in the above case of maximum variation, it may focus on one nationality say Americans only. Typical case sampling It involves taking a sample of what one would call typical, normal or average for a particular phenomenon, Stratified purposeful sampling This illustrates characteristics of particular subgroups of interest and facilitates comparisons between the different groups. Critical case sampling This permits logical generalization and maximum application of information to other cases like "If it is true for this one case, it is likely to be true of all other cases. You must have heard statements like if it happened to so and so then it can happen to anybody. Or if so and so passed that exam, then anybody can pass. Snowball or chain sampling this particular one identifies, cases of interest from people who know people who know what cases are information rich that is good examples for study, good interview subjects. This is commonly used in studies that may be looking at issues like the homeless households. What you do is to get hold of one and he/she will tell you where the others are or can be found. When you find those others they will tell you where you can get more others and the chain continues. Snowball sampling is a special Nonprobability method used when the desired sample characteristic is rare. It may be extremely difficult or cost prohibitive to locate respondents in these situations. Snowball sampling relies on referrals from initial subjects to generate additional subjects. While this technique can dramatically lower search costs, it comes at the expense of introducing bias because the technique itself reduces the likelihood that the sample will represent a good cross section from the population. Criterion sampling Here, you set a criteria and pick all cases that meet that criteria for example, all ladies six feet tall, all white cars, all farmers that have planted onions. This method of sampling is very strong in quality assurance. Theory based or operational construct sampling Finding manifestations of a theoretical construct of interest so as to elaborate and examine the construct. Confirming and disconfirming cases Elaborating and deepening initial analysis like if you had already started some study, you are seeking further information or confirming some emerging issues which are not clear, seeking exceptions and testing variation. Opportunistic Sampling This involves following new leads during field work, taking advantage of the unexpected flexibility.
Random purposeful sampling This adds credibility when the purposeful sample is larger than one can handle. Reduces judgment within a purposeful category. But it is not for generalizations or representativeness. Sampling politically important cases This type of sampling attracts or avoids attracting attention undesired attention by purposisefully eliminating from the sample political cases. These may be individuals, or localities. Convenience sampling It is useful in getting general ideas about the phenomenon of interest. For example you decide you will interview the first ten people you meet tomorrow morning. It saves time, money and effort. It is the poorest way of getting samples, has the lowest credibility and yields information-poor cases. Combination or mixed purposeful sampling This combines various sampling strategies to achieve the desired sample. This helps in triangulation, allows for flexibility, and meets multiple interests and needs. When selecting a sampling strategy it is necessary that it fits the purpose of the study, the resources available, the question being asked and the constraints being faced. This holds true for sampling strategy as well as sample size.
There are two types of sampling risks, first is the risk of acceptance of the research hypothesis and the second is the risk for incorrect rejection. These risks pertain to the possibility that when a test is conducted to a sample, the results and conclusions may be different from the results and conclusions when the test is conducted to the entire population. The risk of incorrect acceptance pertains to the risk that the sample can yield a conclusion that supports a theory about the population when it is actually not existent in the population. On the other hand, the risk of incorrect rejection pertains to the risk that the sample can yield a conclusion that rejects a theory about the population when in fact, the theory holds true in the population. Comparing the two types of risks, researchers fear the risk of incorrect rejection more than the risk of incorrect acceptance. Consider this example; an experimental drug was tested for its debilitating side effects. With the risk of incorrect acceptance, the researcher will conclude that the drug indeed has negative side effects but the truth is that it doesn’t. The entire population will then abstain from taking the drug. But with the risk of incorrect rejection, the researcher will conclude that the drug has no negative side effects. The entire population will then take the drug knowing that it has no side effects but all of them will then suffer the consequences of the mistake of the researcher.
The researcher makes several decisions when designing a sample these are represented in exibit shown below the sampling decisions flow from two decisions made in the formation of educational- research question hierarchy, the nature of the educational question and the investigative questions that evolve from the research question.
Educational Research question Hierarchy
Select Sample Type Nonprobability Probability
Define Relevant Population
Select the Sample Technique Identify Existing Sample Frames
Evaluate and Select Sampling Frame
Determine Sampling Frame Rules
Draw Samp le
Once the decision to use a certain sampling approach has been made, subjects must be recruited. The goal of recruitment is to obtain a sample large enough to enable valid statistical analysis and allow subjects to be selected in such a manner as to avoid bias (4). Errors or problems in either of these areas can be prevented with a research design that employs controls and a carefully planned sampling technique. There often is an inverse relationship between the ease of recruitment effort and the success in obtaining data. In survey research, for example, direct personal effort in recruitment often is not employed; the recruitment method frequently is comprised of obtaining a mailing list and submitting questionnaires to the accessible population via the mail. A frequent drawback in this type of recruitment effort is a very low response rate of 50 to 60 percent Alternately, subjects are more difficult to recruit when more effort on their part is requested. . Once the accessible population has been defined, every effort should be made to obtain subjects in the manner planned. If a systematic random sampling method has been chosen and a large proportion of the accessible subjects refuses to participate, then a bias error is introduced into the study. In the case of subject refusal, bias is introduced since the reason for their refusal is often universal Recruitment techniques may include personal contact, follow-up phone calls, incentives (such as paying subjects for their time or parking), etc. Some researchers even make home visits to potential subjects to explain the research and its importance; others mail advertising brochures to make participating seem exciting and important. Language also may present a potential difficulty with recruitment. Therefore, a brochure in the appropriate foreign language or a staff or volunteer who can translate or interpret the foreign language may be required. Exclusion Criteria Exclusion criteria are applied to subjects who generally meet the inclusion criteria but must be excluded because they cannot complete the study or possess unique characteristics that may confound the results. Subjects who may have unreliable sources of transportation or noncompliant parents also may need to be excluded.An important ethical consideration is the willingness of the subject to participate.
Before deciding how large a sample should be, you have to define your study population. For example, all children below age three in Tomkins County. Then determine your sampling frame which could be a list of all the chidren below three as recorded by Tomkins County. You can then struggle with the sample size.
The question of how large a sample should be is a difficult one. Sample size can be determined by various constraints. For example, the available funding may prespecify the sample size. When research costs are fixed, a useful rule of thumb is to spent about one half of the total amount for data collection and the other half for data analysis. This constraint influences the sample size as well as sample design and data collection procedures. In general, sample size depends on the nature of the analysis to be performed, the desired precision of the estimates one wishes to achieve, the kind and number of comparisons that will be made, the number of variables that have to be examined simultaneously and how heterogeneous a universe is sampled. For example, if the key analysis of a randomized experiment consists of computing averages for experimental and controls in a project and comparing differences, then a sample under 100 might be adequate, assuming that other statistical assumptions hold. In non-experimental research, most often, relevant variables have to be controlled statistically because groups differ by factors other than chance. More technical considerations suggest that the required sample size is a function of the precision of the estimates one wishes to achieve, the variability or variance, one expects to find in the population and the statistical level of confidence one wishes to use. The sample size N required to estimate a population mean (average) with a given level of precision is: The square root of N= (1.96)*(&)/precision Where & is the population standard deviation of the four the variable whose mean one is interested in estimating. Precision refers to width of the interval one is willing to tolerate and 1.96 reflects the confidence level. For example, to estimate mean earnings in a population with an accuracy of Rs.100 per year, using a 95% confidence interval and assuming that the standard deviation of earnings in the population is Rs.1600.0, the required sample size is 983:[(1.96)(1600/100)] squared. Deciding on a sample size for qualitative inquiry can be even more difficult than quantitative because there are no definite rules to be followed. It will depend on what you want to know, the purpose of the inquiry, what is at stake, what will be useful, what will have credibility and what can be done with available time and resources. With fixed resources which are always the case, you can choose to study one specific phenomenon in depth with a smaller sample size or a bigger sample size when seeking breadth. In purposeful sampling, the sample should be judged on the basis of the purpose and rationale for each study and the sampling strategy used to achieve the studies purpose. The validity, meaningfulness, and insights generated from qualitative inquiry have more to do with the information-richness of the cases selected and the observational/analytical capabilities of the researcher than with sample size.
The goals and concepts related to recruitment are reviewed with application to survey and experimental research. Three steps are suggested for obtaining an appropriate research
sample: clearly define the target population, the accessible population and define the steps and effort that will be employed to recruit subjects for study. The goals of sampling are to decrease time and money costs, to increase the amount of data and detail that can be obtained, and to increase accuracy of data collection by preventing errors. To accomplish these goals it is necessary to follow these steps: Clearly define the target population to which the results will be generalized. . An accessible population representative of the target must be defined by additional inclusion criteria with specific characteristics regarding the geographic, social and time frames required for this subpopulation. • The sampling process must be defined well ahead of subject selection whether it be a random (probability) or nonrandom (nonprobability) approach, and the researchers must adhere to a specific technique for recruitment appropriate for that approach. The recruitment effort must be vigorous enough to assure a large enough sample to enable statistical validity and must minimize probability of error and bias of selection.
In conclusion, it can be said that using a sample in research saves mainly on money and time, if a suitable sampling strategy is used, appropriate sample size selected and necessary precautions taken to reduce on sampling and measurement errors, then a sample should yield valid and reliable information. Details on sampling can be obtained from the references included below and many other books on statistics or qualitative research which can be found in libraries.
1. Webster, M. (1985). Webster`s nith new collegiate dictionary. Meriam - Webster Inc. 2. Salant, P. and D. A. Dillman (1994). How to conduct your own survey. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 3. Patton, M.Q.(1990). Qualitative evaluation and research methods. SAGE Publications. Newbury Park London New Delhi. 4. Lapin, L. L. (1987). Statistics for mordern business decisions. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc. 5. Cox RC, West WL. Fundamentals of research for health professionals, 2nd ed. Ramsco Pub. Co.; 1986:29. 6. Portney LG, Walkins MR Foundations of clinical research: Applications to practice. East Norwalk, Conn.: Appleton and Lange; 1993. 7. Dominowski RL. Research methods. New Jersey: PrenticeHall; 1980. 8. Hulley SB, Cummings SR. Designing clinical research. An epidemiologic approach. Baltimore: Williams and Wilkins; 1988. 9. Currier DR Elements of research in physical therapy, 2nd ed. Baltimore: Williams and Wilkins; 1984.
10. Schlesselman JJ. Case-control studies: Design, conduct, analysis. New York: Oxford University Press; 1982. 11. Isaac 5, Michael W. Handbook in research and evaluation, 2nd ed. San Diego: Edits Pub.; 1990:1
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