How to select a sampling strategy for a qualitative research?

Question: How to select a sampling strategy for a qualitative research?

Answer: Sampling selection is tough; therefore, researchers face dilemma in selecting a suitable sampling strategy with justification. It is because there are many sampling strategies, and it is sometimes nearly impossible for novice researchers to identify and finalise one sampling strategy. So how can you select one and justify the adoption of the research? In this section, we tried to give some valuable insights for your understanding regarding the tactics and some sampling strategies commonly used in qualitative research so that you can select the most appropriate sampling strategies.

Sampling is the process of selecting the objects, participants, or respondents for your study. The participants or respondents or objects can be questioned, surveyed, or observed. However, a sample is a group on which information is obtained from a relatively larger population. A research population is also called an extensive/large collection of objects or individuals (i.e. respondents or participants) that is the central focus of a research investigation or query. Moreover, the research population – either objects or individuals – are mainly identified to have similar characteristics. However, the larger group to which a researcher wishes to apply the results is known as the population (Fraenkel et al., 2015).

Like quantitative researchers, qualitative researchers usually cannot include a bigger sample from the population through the sampling strategies. It is because data amassed by qualitative researchers cannot be quantified; hence, such researchers try to reach a saturation point (discussed in the later section of this article). Therefore, it is vital to apply an appropriate sampling strategy to include the right participants, respondents, or objects for the qualitative research.

However, before we discuss some sampling strategies suitable for qualitative research, we should inform you that generalisation of the work to the whole research population is not the goal of most qualitative researchers (Dawson, 2019). They rather usually seek to explore, explain, or describe what is happening within a smaller group of people or objects (Dawson, 2019). Qualitative researchers do this because they believe data from the smaller group might provide insights into the behavior or situation of the broader research population. Those insights can be tested in future research, for example, in quantitative studies. If you adopt qualitative research, you have to accept that everyone is different; therefore, if you do the same research with another group of people, the results might not be the same.

However, there is a significant difference among the scholars regarding the sampling strategies for qualitative research. However, if you are trying to write a research paper, thesis, or dissertation, you should not be worried regarding the types of sampling strategies. You should be concerned about selecting the right one for your study. In this regard, you are recommended to read some scholarly documents where various types of sampling strategies are clarified (see e.g. Fraenkel et al., 2015; Saunders et al., 2009). However, the most common sampling strategies used in qualitative research are purposive sampling and convenience sampling. The former allows you to select objectives and specially qualified respondents or participants to collect the requisite data (Fraenkel et al., 2015).

The latter, on the other hand, allows selecting objectives and easily accessible respondents or participants to collect the requisite data. However, both of these sampling strategies are also called non-random sampling strategies. Moreover, purposive sampling was also divided into 16 types in the study of Patton (1990). Now, you may wonder that there are so many sampling strategies to know. Yes, you should know that would be great. However, we urge the researchers working on thesis or scholarly articles to read academic research journal articles related to the topic so that a suitable sampling can be identified and applied for data collection. This would allow them to justify why they adopted the sampling strategy.

For more information: 

Islam, M. A., & Aldaihani, F. M. F (2022) Justification for Adopting Qualitative Research Method, Research Approaches, Sampling Strategy, Sample Size, Interview Method, Saturation, and Data Analysis, Journal of International Business and Management, 5(1), 01-11.


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