Sampling Basics: Questions to Determine Sampling Methods

Deciding on sample size is one of the most important and first steps any survey researcher must take in order to create an effort that is completely successful. Determining the appropriate size and type of sample can be a daunting task. To help you select the perfect sample for your next research project, follow this simple sample size determination checklist.

For creating a sample, these questions should be answered:

What is the research budget? Can we afford the desired sample? If not, what are some alternatives/compromises that can be made without affecting the data quality?

What is the population size?
Large? Small/Finite? When the population size is unknown, it is assumed to be large.

What type of analysis will be done on the data?
Will subgroups (e.g. males vs. females, youths vs. adults, etc.) be compared in your results?

What is the probability of a respondent answering in a certain way?
If you cant be sure through looking at previously collected data, 50% is the estimate you should use.

How much error can you handle?
How much precision in your results do you require?

How confident do you need to be that data from the true population value will fall within the confidence interval you chose?

Unfortunately for us all, there is no magic number as far as appropriate sample size for your survey. This checklist is a great starting point to get you ahead of the game when it comes to determining how many participants you will need to approach to make your data usable for your needs.
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