User Sampling Methods

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1 Sampling 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.
Method Characteristics
Simple (random) Sampling The sample is selected entirely at random
Stratified The population is first divided in to exclusive subgroups based on some predetermined criteria (e.g. location), then samples are selected at random
Proportionate Stratified As 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
Clustering The 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:
Method Characteristics
Quota Respondents are preselected to ensure that the sample is representative
Purposive Subjects are selected as they have some specific characteristic, for example, hold a certain position or job type
Convenience The sample is selected by availability
Snowballing Contacts provide information about other potential respondents
Self-selection Respondents volunteer themselves for selection
Judgement An “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.
2 Survey types
There are three basic surveying techniques that are suitable for consideration in the project:
• Interview
• Telephone
• Self Administered Survey
2.1 Interview (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
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