# User Sampling Methods

Topics: Sampling, Sample size, Sampling error Pages: 6 (1406 words) Published: July 4, 2005
1Sampling Methods
When surveying, for any purpose, it is important to recognise that the results are only as representative as the survey subjects (the sample), and as such much academic research has been performed in to techniques for selection, broadly placing them in one of two categories  probability sampling and non-probability sampling. In short, with probability sampling the participants are selected by chance. There are dozens of methods of selecting members, using a variety of mathematical techniques, but the key is that each subject has a random, calculable chance of being selected. There is no human intervention involved in the selection. MethodCharacteristics

Simple (random) SamplingThe sample is selected entirely at random StratifiedThe population is first divided in to exclusive subgroups based on some predetermined criteria (e.g. location), then samples are selected at random Proportionate StratifiedAs above, but a smaller group that would otherwise not provide statistically valid results may be oversampled then the results weighted to correct for this. For example, if a particular group is too small to provide a statistically significant sample, more members of that group would be sampled ClusteringThe starting point for the sample is randomised, then assumes that the sample at that point is representative of the region. For example, selecting a street corner, interviewing the first 10 people, and assuming that they are representative of the area Table 2 - Probability Sampling Methods

Non-probability samples, however, contain an element of human bias in the sample selection. Again, there are various methods for the selection, the most common of which are: MethodCharacteristics

QuotaRespondents are preselected to ensure that the sample is representative PurposiveSubjects are selected as they have some specific characteristic, for example, hold a certain position or job type ConvenienceThe sample is selected by availability

SnowballingContacts provide information about other potential respondents Self-selectionRespondents volunteer themselves for selection JudgementAn "expert" uses his or her judgement to nominate people for sample Table 3 - Non-probability Sampling Methods

Most samples use a combination of sample selection methods. For example, quota sampling is often used to ensure that a random sample is actually representative of the population. 2Survey types
There are three basic surveying techniques that are suitable for consideration in the project: Interview
Telephone
2.1Interview (face to face)
This category includes in-depth interviews, focus groups and projective methods (such as word association tests) which are not suitable for use in this project. There are several distinct advantages to this type of survey, such as: Response rates tend to be higher than other methods

Ability to reassure the subject about their responses
Questions can be clarified
The interviewer can supplement the data with observation (for example, other feedback) Longer and more complex interviews can be performed (although this is not recommended here) Visual aids, such as queue cards, can be used

Response bias can be largely removed from the results if respondents see follow up interviews as an essential part of the implementation process However, there are disadvantages:
It is often costly to meet each subject, even in a group session. Travel costs and time must be taken in to account. There is much more significant chance of interviewer bias being introduced to the sample, for example, by tone of voice or interpretation of response Although response rates are higher, as people are reluctant to appear "rude" the response may include some level of bias here 2.2Telephone

Telephone interviewing, especially within a single organisation such as a company, represents a highly convenient, accurate sampling technique Telephone interviews tend...