Sampling Methods in Qualitative Research

Choosing what insight to gather is usually half the work in research. Browsing a potential market’s demographics can offer some idea to customer expectations. Gaining a full idea, however, requires some specialized sampling. A process that influences market representation and analysis, sampling includes a slew of methods with their own strengths and prerequisites. 

Common Sampling Methods

Often for a specific type of input, sampling methods cover a wide variety of types and subtypes. Homogeneity, input type, trends, and pattern following all factor in. Important for direction, a study should already have clear goals before selecting a sampling method. For instance, coordinating a market subset is different than gauging overall reaction. The methods below are among the most common, typically due to their applicability.

  • Stratified Purposeful Sampling – Researchers sample a larger group by divvying them through certain categories like setting, location, background, etc.   
  • Random Purposeful Sampling – A form of sampling that evolves from input and avoids systematizing advanced knowledge of the participants
  • Systematic Sampling – Sampling type that selects participants through a set sequence  
  • Snow or Chain Sampling – A way to follow specified, rare instances via identifying perspectives or chain of contacts
  • Criterion Sampling – A method that bases selection off predetermined criteria

Using Multiple Sampling Methods Per Study  

Multiple samples are common in qualitative research. Important for verifying and averaging responses, focusing on similar representations offers a better understanding of input and helps pinpoint variations. While ideal for understanding responses, cohesive insight typically requires a more comprehensive application of sampling.

Using different sampling methods in the same project or study often uncovers insight that would otherwise remain hidden. Organization is key. Using different types in the wrong manner or sequence will impact accuracy and outcome. Qualitative research starts inwards or outwards starting research, and then either expands or specifies its group. So long as the sampling is consistent with requirements, simultaneous approaches can prove more efficient while also matching the reliability of individual methods.     

Online Capabilities Changing Methods and Access  

New technological capabilities are changing the pragmatics of qualitative research. Until recently limited to same-space dialogue, online focus groups and interviews are now feasible through video-streams offering the same observation detail as the human eye. Radically faster and more streamlined than traditional methods, online options are also changing how sampling is processed.

Greater access to participants enables researchers to examine targets with far more details and within far more parameters. While enabling far more specificity, finding samples online is also far more efficient., for instance, offers a pool of 20 million volunteers from which researchers can select respondents. One previous obstacle of running multiple or hybrid sampling methods, online qualitative methods’ superior turnarounds allow for more analysis, stratified or random. Sampling, in turn, can become far more complex without any significant burden. Hybrid quant/qual methods, meanwhile, enable far more detailed projections into a release’s success. Learn more by checking out our demo or write us a message.    

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