Sample Size

Hi Everyone,

While working on the final proposal, I find myself struggling to decide how big my sample size is appropriate for my project. If it is too big, it will be costly. If it is too small, the result will not be representative to the population. What complicate matters is that I must take into account the potential low response rate. According to Knight (2002), choosing sample size is really a judgment call, which depends on the population size, confidence level and confidence interval.

Do you guys have any input on this?

Thank you.



Knight, P.T. (2002). Small-Scale Research: Pragmatic Inquiry in Social Science and the Caring Professions. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.



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2 responses to “Sample Size

  1. Hey Liz,

    I vaguely remember Professor Galey talking about this in class. I think he said something along the lines that a lot of research relies upon small (but representative) samples. Don’t take my word for it, but he can definitely help you with this!

    Victoria Grant

  2. jbake006

    Hi Liz,

    I think this question really depends on how generalizable you want your research to be. If your research is mainly exploratory and possibly the first major look into your subject, then it might be useful to do a case study of two or three subjects/subject areas that your feel are representative of the main groups/issues. This would allow for others to use your work as a foundation for further research. I think that for your research it would be possible to select 2-3 communities that could accurately reflect the issues that are experiences more broadly in Canada

    Of course, all of this may not apply to the way you have been thinking about your research. I personally prefer smaller samples, especially since this research should be possible to complete during a Master’s degree. It seems like it might be advisable to make your sample size slightly larger than you would like to work with so that a possible low response rate would not be a major issue for your research.

    I hope these ramblings are actually of any use to you. If they’re not, I’m sure Professor Galey would be a great help as Victoria suggested.

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