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To choose a stratified sample , divide the population into groups called strata and then take a proportionate number from each stratum. For example, you could stratify (group) your college population by department and then choose a proportionate simple random sample from each stratum (each department) to get a stratified random sample. To choose a simple random sample from each department, number each member of the first department, number each member of the second department and do the same for the remaining departments. Then use simple random sampling to choose proportionate numbers from the first department and do the same for each of the remaining departments. Those numbers picked from the first department, picked from the second department and so on represent the members who make up the stratified sample.
To choose a cluster sample , divide the population into clusters (groups) and then randomly select some of the clusters. All the members from these clusters are in the cluster sample. For example, if you randomly sample four departments from your college population, the four departments make up the cluster sample. For example, divide your college faculty by department. The departments are the clusters. Number each department and then choose four different numbers using simple random sampling. All members of the four departments with those numbers are the cluster sample.
To choose a systematic sample , randomly select a starting point and take every nth piece of data from a listing of the population. For example, suppose you have to do a phone survey. Your phone book contains 20,000 residence listings. You must choose 400 names for the sample. Number the population 1 - 20,000 and then use a simple random sample to pick a number that represents the first name of the sample. Then choose every 50th name thereafter until you have a total of 400 names (you might have to go back to the of your phone list). Systematic sampling is frequently chosen because it is a simple method.
A type of sampling that is nonrandom is convenience sampling. Convenience sampling involves using results that are readily available. For example, a computer software store conducts a marketing study by interviewing potential customers who happen to be in the store browsing through the available software. The results of convenience sampling may be very good in some cases and highly biased (favors certain outcomes) in others.
Sampling data should be done very carefully. Collecting data carelessly can have devastating results. Surveys mailed to households and then returned may be very biased (for example, they may favor a certain group). It is better for the person conducting the survey to select the sample respondents.
True random sampling is done with replacement . That is, once a member is picked that member goes back into the population and thus may be chosen more than once. However for practical reasons, in most populations, simple random sampling is done without replacement . Surveys are typically done without replacement. That is, a member of the population may be chosen only once. Most samples are taken from large populations and the sample tends to be small in comparison to the population. Since this is the case, sampling without replacement is approximately the same as sampling with replacement because the chance of picking the same individual more than once using with replacement is very low.
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