In an ideal world, a survey would collect data from every individual in a population. However, in most cases this isn’t feasible because of limited resources and time. So we need to use a subset of the population to draw a conclusion.

Identifying the right subset of population to work with is an art. This should be a carefully identified group that is representative of the whole population.

Why is sampling so important?

Sampling a part of the population often works as a more effective surveying tool than a full-blown census, which involves interviewing everyone in a population. You can examine a single area in greater depth with a smaller sample, as opposed to trying to find patterns in a huge pool of data. The latter is like trying to find a needle in a haystack.

  • Did you know? Sampling and surveying a representative part of the population is often more effective than asking everyone.
  • There are many different sampling methods, and which one you choose will depend on the sampling techniques, the context, your research purpose, and various other factors.

Before we dive into the sampling techniques, there are three things to keep in mind while constructing a sample:

  • Diversity

    Ensuring that all units in the survey are not similar to each other is a tall order, but it's important. To be a truly representative sample, the entire group must represent the spectrum of diversity within the population.

  • Consistency

    It's also important that survey respondents have been tracked on a case-by-case basis before going ahead with the survey. A good idea is to administer a consistency test for a sample, for example a pilot test, where you compare the individual units of the sample with the whole to make sure it properly represents the parent population's characteristics.

  • Transparency

    Many factors determine the size and the structure of a population. Researchers need to discuss these limitations and maintain transparency about the procedures followed while selecting the sample so the survey results are viewed with the right perspective.

Now let's get to the different sampling techniques.

For the inital stages, probability sampling can have some sense of superiority, but its costs can be prohibitive. During these early stages of a study, non-probability techniques are probably a better way to give you an idea of what you are dealing with.

Once you have successfully selected your sample, you can start surveying by selecting from any of Zoho Survey’s 200 expert-verified templates and choosing from our list of 25 different question types.

Happy surveying!


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