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Recruiting your sample

Now you’re familiar with common data collection methods, let’s consider the process of choosing participants to become involved.
Woman holding a clipboard, four people conducting a survey in the background
© Deakin University and Griffith University

Now you’re familiar with common data collection methods, let’s consider the process of choosing participants to become involved.

One of the first steps in conducting your research is to decide who will be a part of your study.

How many people do you need to include? Unlike the larger population numbers required to satisfy quantitative research requirements, qualitative researchers generally work with smaller sample sizes. Depending on your research design, it may even be one or two!

While the sample size is usually much smaller in qualitative research, in most approaches the researcher continues until they have an in-depth understanding of their phenomenon of interest. This is usually called the ‘saturation point’, where you find repetition in information gathered across your participants. This is the moment in your research when you realise no new insights are being revealed and you have enough data to answer your question.

  • The term ‘sample’ refers to the group of people drawn from a particular population to participate in the research.
  • ‘Sampling’ refers to how they are chosen.

Unlike quantitative research, your participants do not need to be chosen at random.

Recruiting participants (sampling)

You’ll need to consider how you will approach the task of asking people to take part in your research study. How will you decide what groups of people and how many to approach? This can sometimes be restricted by time and resources.

Watch Chris Flipp’s video to learn about convenience, purposeful and theoretical sampling.

This is an additional video, hosted on YouTube.

Your task

With your research question in mind, ask yourself what population will be important to recruit? After watching the video, consider what sampling strategy would be best for your project and why. Select the comments link to share your thoughts with the class.

© Deakin University and Griffith University
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