Sampling in interview-based qualitative research: A theoretical and practical guide

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Robinson, Oliver (2014)

Sampling is central to the practice of qualitative methods, but compared with data collection and analysis, its processes are discussed relatively little. A four-point approach to sampling in qualitative interview-based research is presented and critically discussed in this article, which integrates theory and process for the following: (1) Defining a sample universe, by way of specifying inclusion and exclusion criteria for potential participation; (2) Deciding upon a sample size, through the conjoint consideration of epistemological and practical concerns; (3) Selecting a sampling strategy, such as random sampling, convenience sampling, stratified sampling, cell sampling, quota sampling or a single-case selection strategy; and (4) Sample sourcing, which includes matters of advertising, incentivising, avoidance of bias, and ethical concerns pertaining to informed consent. The extent to which these four concerns are met and made explicit in a qualitative study has implications for its coherence, transparency, impact and trustworthiness.
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