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Popular sampling strategies in qualitative research:
Convenience sampling – participants are readily available, but members of the sample may not be best respondents.
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Purposive sampling – deliberately selects those who are likely to have most to say.
Snowball sampling – allows selection of likely candidates from difficult to reach groups.
Generalizability: The aim of qualitative research is not to generalize, it still remains a limitation of the approach. We cannot take a group of people’s views and apply them to another context, another place or another group of people. We may read them and think ‘Yes! This sounds familiar to me!’ or ‘I am surprised at these findings!’ but we cannot, then, extrapolate from them and decide that we have hard evidence that can be applied in other contexts
“Sampling involves selecting a group of people, events, objects, or other elements with which to conduct a study… Sampling theory was developed to determine the most effective way to acquire a sample that accurately reflects the population under study. Key concepts of sampling theory include populations, target population, sampling or eligibility criteria, accessible population, elements, representativeness, sampling frames, and sampling methods or plans. ” (Grove, Gray, & Burns, 2015, pp. 249-250). An example of this might the study of the effect of diabetes on the body’s vital organs. With millions of diabetics in the United States it would be impossible to study the entire target population (all diabetics); researchers must therefore use a smaller and more manageable sample to represent the population as a whole. Obviously the goal in obtaining this sample is for it to be as much like the entire population as possible. This is of course of the utmost importance to the generalizability of the study.
Generalization means that the results of the research performed on the sample can then be assumed or applied to the whole target population. This can be done to with varying degrees of accuracy and extensiveness. Grove, Gray, & Burns (2015, pp. 250-251) state that research quality and consistency with other research findings can alter the degree of generalizability; meaning that with high quality research, findings can be generalized from the sample to the accessible population, and then to the target population.