Chapter 7: Sampling Techniques

7.1 Sampling

Sampling is the process of selecting observations that will be analyzed for research purposes. To put it another way, sampling has to do with selecting some subset of one’s group of interest and drawing conclusions from that subset. Sampling is an integral part of any research project. The question is not if you will sample, but how you will sample. The answer to that question usually is dependent on the methods you use and the objectives of the study. Sampling can apply to people or objects, and is most important when these people or objects (your units of analysis) are heterogeneous (have different characteristics). If people (or objects) are homogeneous, or the same in terms of a specific characteristic of study, any sample will do, since everyone you sampled would be the same on that characteristic. However, when there is diversity or heterogeneity, sampling becomes highly relevant to the study, since a researcher will want to ensure that his/her sample reflects that variability in the population. How we sample and whom we sample shapes the sorts of conclusions we are able to draw.