What are the implications of using a convenience sample for the way you interpret and use findings?

Asked on by mariasands

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gsenviro | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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The convenience samples are the ones that are easy to find. In the case of survey studies or legal parlance, convenience samples would also mean willing participants.

The problem with convenience sampling lies in the fact that such samples are not representative of the population and any results available from these samples can, at best, be utilized for pilot-scale testing. The findings or implications are not valid for the entire population.

For example, to determine the time people spend on mobile phones, one can ask his immediate friends and family and get some initial ideas for theory validation (that, too, would be preliminary). However, to be able to imply results on people's mobile phone usage, one has to gather data from a much larger and diverse sample (representative, in other words).

Hence, convenience sampling, though simple and easy, provides results that are only applicable to pilot-testing and are of limited applicability.

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