Advantages and disadvantages of convenience sampling

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Advantages and disadvantages of convenience sampling

This article aims to investigate some of the advantages and disadvantages of convenience sampling. Many qualitative researchers use this type of sampling to collect data for their research. Like all other research tools, convenience sampling has its merits and demerits.

Definition of convenience sampling

Convenience sampling is a non-probability sampling. It is also sometimes called availability sampling, opportunity sampling, haphazard sampling, grab sampling, or accidental sampling.

According to Saunders et al. (2007) convenience sampling involves selecting haphazardly those samples that are the easiest for the researchers to obtain, such as the person interviewed at random in a shopping mall for a radio programme. The process continues until the researchers have obtained the number of samples they have aimed for.

Advantages of convenience sampling

According to Jones and Gratton (2009) convenience sampling is usually selected as it is convenient in terms of location, accessibility etc. For instance, a researcher may target the students from his/her university/college as potential research participants.

Convenience sampling is easy, swift, and economical unlike some other methods of data collection.  It is very useful when a researcher decides to conduct a quick study. Similarly, it can be also useful to collect pilot data (LaMorte, 2016).

Convenience sampling may sometimes turn out to be the only option for the researchers. They use it when they cannot get a list of all the people in a population. It can also be a useful tool to understand the respondents’ views, habits, likes, and dislikes.

Disadvantages of convenience sampling

Jones and Gratton (2009) advise researchers to avoid convenience sampling as much as possible as it can be very biased as they may be tempted to hand out questionnaires to (or interview) those people they know.

Some experts hold the view that a lack of credibility is a major disadvantage of convenience sampling. Sampling error, and lack of representation of population make it harder for the researchers to generalise the results of their study to the population as whole.

Examples of convenience sampling

Imagine, some researchers would like to conduct a study to understand the employee satisfaction in Tesco. It is unlikely that they will be able to get hold of a list of employees working for the company. Therefore, they may decide to stand in front of a Tesco store and speak to any employee going in or coming out of the door.

We hope the article ‘Advantages and disadvantages of convenience sampling’ has been a helpful read. You may also like reading Advantages and disadvantages of focus groups and Advantages and disadvantages of questionnaires. Other articles that may draw your attention are:

Advantages and disadvantages of simple random sampling

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Last update: 26 February 2021

References/Further reading:

Jones, I., & Gratton, C. (2009) Research Methods for Sports Studies, 2nd edition, London: Routledge

LaMorte, W. (2016) Sampling, available at: https://sphweb.bumc.bu.edu/otlt/MPH-Modules/BS/BS704_Probability/BS704_Probability2.html (accessed 22 February 2021)

Saunders, M., Lewis, P., & Thornhill, A. (2007) Research Methods for Business Students, 4th edition, UK: Pearson Education Limited

Author: Joe David

Joe David has years of experience both in the UK and abroad. He writes regularly online on a variety of topics. He has a keen interest in business, hospitality and tourism management.