ROUTE #1: Getting Started
ROUTE #1: Chapter-by-Chapter


Sampling strategy

The sampling strategy that you select in your dissertation should naturally flow from (a) your choice of route, and the approach within that route, and (b) the research design and research methods you plan to follow.

In quantitative dissertations, the sampling strategy that you select is important because it affects: (a) the reliability of your findings; and (b) what conclusions you can reasonably make from your findings, and in particular, what generalisations you can make (i.e., the external validity of your findings). Both of these are issues of research quality, which we discussed in STEP FIVE: Research quality. However, first you need to think about the appropriate sampling strategy to set in your dissertation.

To set the sampling strategy that you will use in your dissertation, you need to follow three steps: (a) understand the basic principles of sampling; (b) assess the sampling strategy used in the main journal article, and reflecting on your choice of route, and the approach you have adopted within that route, determine your units and population, sample and sampling approach; and (c) consider the practical aspects of your dissertation, and the implications that these may have for your sampling strategy. However, before you look at these, it is important to take on board that setting, and more specifically, the practical aspects of creating a good sampling strategy can be very difficult. Even in academic publications, the sampling approach adopted by authors can be quite weak, often because of issues associated with building a high quality sample, including issues of access, time and cost. Whilst you should try and build the best sample you can in your dissertation, be realistic and pragmatic, especially if you are an undergraduate or master's student with limited resources. You can always acknowledge the weaknesses in your sample and sampling technique when you come to write up the Sampling Strategy section of your Chapter Three: Research Strategy.

Understand the basic principles of sampling

If you are already confident that you understand the basic principles of sampling, including terms such as units/cases/objects, sample, population, random sampling, probability sampling, non-probability sampling, amongst other terms, jump to STEP TWO: Choosing your sampling strategy and sampling technique. If not, we would suggest that you learn about these terms in the Sampling Strategy section of the Fundamentals part of Lærd Dissertation before reading on. After all, in STEP TWO below, you will need to decide what sampling strategy you will use, based on (a) your main journal article, and (b) the choice of route you are adopting, as well as the approach within that route. To do this, you need to understand the basic principles of sampling first.

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