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Sampling and Collecting Quantitative and Qualitative Data

Discussion: Sampling and Collecting Quantitative and Qualitative Data

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It is often not possible or practical to study an entire population, so researchers draw samples from which they make inferences about a population of interest. In quantitative research, where generalization to a population is typically valued, a researcher’s ability to make such inferences is only as good as the sampling strategy she or he uses to obtain the sample. Once an appropriate sample has been obtained, data collection should involve valid and reliable measures to ensure confidence in the results, as well as the ability to generalize the research outcomes. Although generalization is typically not a goal in qualitative research, sampling is just as important in qualitative and mixed methods research, as is obtaining reliable and valid results. Indeed, for quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods research, sampling strategies and accurate data collection methods are critical aspects of the research process.

Specific methods of data collection (e.g., surveys, interviews, observations) produce specific types of data that will answer particular research questions, but not others; so here too, as covered in previous weeks, the research questions inform how the data will be obtained. Furthermore, the method used to collect the data may impact the reliability and the validity of that data.

For this Discussion, you will first consider sampling strategies. Then, you will turn your attention to data collection methods, including their strengths, limitations, and ethical implications. Last, you will consider measurement reliability and validity in the context of your discipline.

With these thoughts in mind, if your last name starts with A through L, use Position A. If your last name starts with M through Z, use Position B.

Position A: Probability sampling represents the best strategy for selecting research participants.

Position B: Nonprobability (or purposive) sampling represents the best strategy for selecting research participants.

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