Convenience sampling is a method of selecting a statistical sample by which the researcher chooses those subjects to whom he has the greatest ease of access. This, by geographical proximity or otherwise.
That is, convenience sampling consists of selecting for the sample of a statistical study those individuals who are most within reach. This makes data collection less expensive and involves less effort.
It should be noted that convenience sampling is a type of non-probabilistic sampling, that is, not all the people who are part of the target audience of the study have the same probability of being chosen to be part of the sample.
Before continuing, we will make some concepts clear. First, the statistical sample, which is a subset of data that belongs to a larger one, which we call the population. The latter comprises the total number of individuals who share a characteristic to be investigated.
For example, the population could be Mexicans between 50 and 60 years old. Meanwhile, a sample would be 2,000 adults who meet that characteristic and who were selected in various cities in Mexico.
Advantages and disadvantages of convenience sampling
Among the advantages of convenience sampling we can point out:
- It is an economical method because it saves costs in data collection.
- It allows gathering the necessary information for the study in less time in relation to other types of sampling.
- It is useful for the case of initial or pilot studies. Thus, it allows us to observe trends that can later be analyzed in a more in-depth or massive work.
Also, among the disadvantages of this methodology we can highlight:
- The selected sample may be far from being representative of the population that is the object of study (it is worth specifying that, in principle, the sample is not expected to be representative, the problem is that it is far from that).
- Continuing with the previous point, a non-representative sample could lead us to erroneous conclusions, that is, the results could be biased.
- Given biased results, these cannot be generalized to the entire population. Therefore, the validity of the study is limited.
A college student of psychology seeks to do a study on relationships between parents and children aged 18 to 20 years. To collect the data you need, you turn to students at your own university.
The researcher also contacted another nearby study center, where he was able to get more people who could be part of his sample.
In this case, the research results cannot be generalized to the entire country, and perhaps not even to the entire city. However, it is what the student can do with the resources and time he has. In addition, her work can serve as a basis for other broader ones that include many more subjects in the sample.