Convenience sampling is a type of nonprobability sampling technique in which subjects are selected on their convenient access ability as well as proximity to the researcher. It is also known as availability sampling.
Facebook questions can be one of the popular methods of convenience sampling. It is the type of something where the first primary data source which is available will be used for research without any additional requirements.
Alternatively, this method involves finding the participants whenever you can. The location which is most convenient for the research is selected, which is why the name convenience sampling. There are no inclusion criteria identified before the selection of the subjects. In the case of convenience sampling, all the subjects are invited to participate in the process.
This method is applied in business studies in which the initial primary data concerning issues related to the perception of an image or a particular brand. It can also be used to collect the opinions of the prospective customers for a new design of the product.
In its primary form, convenience sampling is applied by stopping random people and asking them the questions from the questionnaire. Any cold drink challenge these days like the recent Pepsi challenge marketing campaign is one of the relevant examples of this sampling method.
Occasionally, it is headed in the right shopping centres and other likewise crowded areas, and all of the members from the population are invited to participate in the sampling method without any discrimination.
The technique of Convenience sampling proves if active during the exploration stage of the research and also when conducting the primary data collection to identify and address the disadvantages which are associated with the questionnaire design.
Importance of convenience sampling shows that the method of convenience sampling is very convenient; it has a very high risk that your sample will not represent the population. However, convenience sampling is sometimes the only way when you can get participants. It has many uses, especially when you have to conduct a study in a short time or when you are on a meager budget.
It is also the only method which you can use when you cannot get a list of all members of a particular population. For example, let us consider that you want to survey a company who wants to know what the Tesco employees but think about their wages.
It is doubtful that you will be able to get the entire list of all the Tesco employees. Hence we will have to stand outside the Tesco store and grab whichever employees are coming out are going in through the door. This is why the name convenience sampling.
Even in the case of pilot studies, the technique of convenience sampling is used so that it allows the researcher to get the necessary data and trends about his research without the use of complications of random sampling.
It is also useful in documenting the specific quality of a substance or a phenomenon which occurs within a sample. These studies are also beneficial to detect a relationship between different aspects.
Applications of convenience sampling
The primary use of convenience sampling is discouraged by many supervisors because of its inability to generalize the research findings and its relevance to high sampling error and bias.
Nevertheless, convenience sampling is the only available option in specific scenarios. For example, it may be that an organization which you are planning to use for a case study is convenient since you have been able to negotiate a lot to get access with the help of existing contacts.
Application of convenience sampling is straightforward as compared to other sampling methods. Suppose you have a topic of study in the sustainability of guerrilla marketing as a marketing tool of the future, with the help of convenience sampling method you can send a link to fill up an online questionnaire to specific people on the contact list of your mobile phone.
You can also send it to people who you are connected via social media websites like Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. and also to people who you know individually in person. This is one of the easiest and convenient ways of recruiting the sources together primary data for your research.
Criticisms against Convenience sampling
One of the very obvious criticisms of convenience sampling is the sampling bias. The samples are not representatives of the entire population. This is considered as one of the most significant drawbacks when the method of convenience example is used since it leads to more problems and criticisms.
Sampling bias gives rise to systematic bias. Systematic bias is nothing but a constant difference between the results which are obtained from the samples and the theoretical results which are derived from the entire population.
It is not a new fact that the results which are obtained from the study with the use of convenience sampling differ significantly with the results of the entire population. Because of having a systematic bias, the results which are obtained are skewed.
Another significant criticism of convenience sampling is the limitation in generalization as well as inference making about the total population. Since the sample is not a representative of the population, the results obtained from the study do not speak of the entire population. This results in very low validity of the study.
How to analyze a convenience sample?
The results from the convenience samples are straightforward to analyze but challenging to replicate. You can use any method of analysis that you like, but you will not be able to generalize the results to a larger group of population.
One of the biggest problems with convenience sampling is dependence. The term dependent means that the sample items are all connected in one way or the other to each other. This interferes with the statistical analysis. Most of the tests of hypothesis which are conducted like chi-square test or T-test and the statistics like the standard deviation or standard error of measurement have an underlying assumption of random selection.
This may not be possible with you if you have a convenience sample. The P values which are produced by convenience samples are very misleading, which is one of the biggest problems.
Recommendations for analysis of convenience example
One of the most significant recommendations is very simple that if possible, you should use probability sampling.
If you are using Convenience sampling, then try to take multiple samples over the entire course of your study. Because if you do this, you may be able to produce more reliable results.
It is not recommended to use post hoc tests As a tool to adjust your results.
It is also recommended to repeat your study to see if your results are replicable.
Cross-validation is to be used for larger samples to model half of your data. You can then compare those results with the other half of the data to see if both of them match.
Convenience samples are not to be meta-analyzed. Metanalysis combines the findings from the existing research into a more comprehensive thesis. A Meta-analysis will help to uncover the trends or teams which were not apparent in the individual studies or investigations.
If you are using biased data from the convenience samples, then any and possibly every trend which you uncover are going to be suspect. It is strongly recommended to summarize your results instead.