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Sampling methods in qualitative and quantitative research

by Sam Ladner on October 30, 2008 · 4 comments

in Research Methods, qualitative research, quantitative research, user experience

Why does sample size not matter in qualitative research? Because of the assumptions that qualitative researchers make, namely, that the social world is not predictable. Qualitative researchers believe that people are not like molecules or other objects; people’s actions are not predictable.

But quantitative researchers DO believe that social activity IS predictable. So when they compare their observations of social activity to what would happen in purely random results, the difference says something. Let’s say you were to research people’s preferences for a particular interactive feature. Say you’re wondering if young people will like a radio button more than older people. First, you model what results you’d expect if you’d just flipped a coin. Then you use a probability (random) sample, and compare those results to purely random results. Is there a difference?

If there is a difference between them, you can infer that indeed, something other than chance (in this case, age) affect people’s preferences.

Qualitative researchers don’t agree that such things can be reliably predicted. That’s why they don’t bother with expensive and involved random sampling. See all these details below from my research design course.

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Categories: Research Methods · qualitative research · quantitative research · user experience

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 sakeer hussain August 23, 2009 at 2:55 am

pls add me as asubscriber.


2 Mladenka Aleksija Lukic May 30, 2011 at 4:24 am

Dear Mr/Mrs

My name is Mladenka Aleksija Lukic and currently i am writing master thesis entitled Sustainable Marketing in Brazil. Part of my data is collected via online survey. Consequently i need to write about quantitative sampling methods. I found your presentation far the most understandable when clarifying those terms – therefore i would like to use it as a source. However my University (Aarhus School of Business, Aarhus University in Denmark) has very strict citation rules, therefore i was hoping you could notify me about your source.

I wish you a nice and successful day.

I am looking forward to hearing from you.

Kind regards
Aleksija Lukic


3 Sam Ladner May 30, 2011 at 8:39 am

I am the source of this presentation. As a PhD in sociology, I will give presentations and write reports for clients without needing to cite authors. However, I’d encourage you to read a book on sampling methods and research methodology. I would not accept from my students an online source, even if it was written or presented by an academic. Ask your committee about methodology.


4 Mladenka Aleksija Lukic May 30, 2011 at 1:12 pm

Dear Sam,

Thank you very much for getting back to me. I will definitely have a look at books on sampling methods and research methodology, however as i noted above, i am quite fond of your classification. Nevertheless as you said, even though you are an academic, i cannot use an online/website source.

Thank you again for replaying.

I wish you a nice and successful day.

Kind regards
Mladenka Aleksija Lukic

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