What is Sampling ?

Sampling frame

The sampling frame is the actual list of individuals that the sample will be drawn from. Ideally, it should include the entire target population (and nobody who is not part of that population).


You are doing research on working conditions at Company X. Your population is all 1000 employees of the company. Your sampling frame is the company’s HR database which lists the names and contact details of every employee.

What is Sampling ?

Population vs sample

First, you need to understand the difference between a population and a sample, and identify the target population of your research.

  • The population is the entire group that you want to draw conclusions about.
  • The sample is the specific group of individuals that you will collect data from.

The population can be defined in terms of geographical location, age, income, and many other characteristics.

It can be very broad or quite narrow: maybe you want to make inferences about the whole adult population of your country; maybe your research focuses on customers of a certain company, patients with a specific health condition, or students in a single school.

It is important to carefully define your target population according to the purpose and practicalities of your project.

If the population is very large, demographically mixed, and geographically dispersed, it might be difficult to gain access to a representative sample.

What is Sampling ?

Sampling advantages

Reduced cost & time: Since using a sample reduces the number of people that have to be reached out to, it reduces cost and time. Imagine the time saved between researching with a population of millions vs. conducting a research study using a sample.

Reduced resource deployment: It is obvious that if the number of people involved in a research study is much lower due to the sample, the resources required are also much less. The workforce needed to research the sample is much less than the workforce needed to study the whole population.

Accuracy of data: Since the sample is indicative of the population, the data collected is accurate. Also, since the respondent is willing to participate, the survey dropout rate is much lower, which increases the validity and accuracy of the data.

Intensive & exhaustive data: Since there are lesser respondents, the data collected from a sample is intense and thorough. More time and effort is given to each respondent rather than having to collect data from a lot of people.

Apply properties to a larger population: Since the sample is indicative of the broader population, it is safe to say that the data collected and analyzed from the sample can be applied to the larger population, and it would hold true.

What is Sampling ?

Calculating sample size

To calculate the sample size, you need the following parameters.

Z-score: The Z-score value can be found, here.

Standard deviation

Margin of error

Confidence level

To calculate use the sample size, use this formula:

Sample Size = (Z-score)2 * StdDev*(1-StdDev) / (margin of error)2

Consider the confidence level of 90%, standard deviation of .6 and margin of error, +/-4%

((1.64)2 x .6(.6)) / (.04)2

( 2.68x .0.36) / .0016

.9648 / .0016


603 respondents are needed and that becomes your sample size.

What is Sampling ?

How to determine a sample size

As we have learned above, the right sample size is essential for the success of data collection in a market research study. But is there a correct number for sample size? What parameters decide the sample size? What are the distribution methods of the survey? To understand all of this and make an informed calculation of the right sample size, it is first essential to understand four important variables that form the basic characteristics of a sample. They are:

Population size: The population size is all the people that can be considered for the research study. This number, in most cases, runs into huge amounts. For example, the population of the United States is 327 million. But in market research, it is impossible to consider all of them for the research study.

The margin of error (confidence interval): The margin of error is depicted by a percentage that is a statistical inference about the confidence of what number of the population depicts the actual views of the whole population. This percentage helps towards the statistical analysis in selecting a sample and how much error in this would be acceptable.

Confidence level: This metric measures where the actual mean falls within a confidence interval. The most common confidence intervals are 90%, 95%, and 99%.

Standard deviation: This metric covers the variance in a survey. A safe number to consider is .5, which would mean that the sample size has to be that large.

What is Sampling ?

The Main Characteristics of Sampling

In sampling, we assume that samples are drawn from the population and sample means and population means are equal. A population can be defined as a whole that includes all items and characteristics of the research taken into study. However, gathering all this information is time consuming and costly. We therefore make inferences about the population with the help of samples.

What is Sampling ?

How Sampling is Used

Certified Public Accountant (CPA) performing a financial audit uses sampling to determine the accuracy and completeness of account balances in the financial statements. Sampling performed by an auditor is referred to as “audit sampling.”1 It is necessary to perform audit sampling when the population, in this case account transaction information, is large. Additionally, managers within a company may use customer sampling to assess the demand for new products or the success of marketing efforts.

The chosen sample should be a fair representation of the entire population. When taking a sample from a larger population, it is important to consider how the sample is chosen. To get a representative sample, it must be drawn randomly and encompass the whole population. For example, a lottery system could be used to determine the average age of students in a university by sampling 10% of the student body.

What is Sampling ?

What Is Sampling?

Sampling is a process used in statistical analysis in which a predetermined number of observations are taken from a larger population. The methodology used to sample from a larger population depends on the type of analysis being performed, but it may include simple random sampling or systematic sampling.


Certified Public Accountants use sampling during audits to determine the accuracy and completeness of account balances.1

Types of sampling include random sampling, block sampling, judgement sampling, and systematic sampling.

Companies use sampling as a marketing tool to identify the needs and wants of their target market.