Sampling > Convenience Sampling (Accidental Sampling)
What is Convenience Sampling / Accidental Sampling?
Convenience sampling (also called accidental sampling or grab sampling)is where you include people who are easy to reach. For example, you could survey people from your workplace or school, a club you belong to, or you could go to a local mall and survey local shoppers. Although convenience sampling is, like the name suggests–convenient–it runs a high risk that your sample will not be representative of the population. Sometimes, a convenience sample is the only way you can drum up participants. According to UC Davis, it could be “a matter of taking what you can get”.
Convenience sampling is a type of non-probability sampling. Probability sampling is where participants are randomly selected, and each has an equal chance of being chosen. With non-probability techniques, the randomness element is absent. Convenience sampling does have its uses, especially when you need to conduct a study quickly or you are on a shoestring budget. It is also one of the only methods you can use when you can’t get a list of all the members of a population. For example, let’s say you were conducting a survey for a company who wanted to know what Walmart employees think of their wages. It’s unlikely you’ll be able to get a list of employees, so you may have to resort to standing outside of Walmart and grabbing whichever employees come out of the door (hence the name “grab sampling”).
Advantages of Convenience Sampling
- It’s relatively easy to get a sample.
- It’s inexpensive, compared to other techniques.
- Participants are readily available.
Disadvantages of Convenience Sampling
A large proportion of the population is excluded. This leads to several issues, including:
- An inability to generalize the results of the survey to the population as a whole.
- The possibility of under- or over-representation of the population.
- The underlying reasons why some people choose to take part and some do not can skew your results.