Convenience Sampling in Statistics: Definition & Limitations

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  • 0:00 What Is Convenience Sampling?
  • 0:58 Benefits of…
  • 3:42 Limitations of…
  • 5:29 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Cathryn Jackson

Cat has taught a variety of subjects, including communications, mathematics, and technology. Cat has a master's degree in education and is currently working on her Ph.D.

Convenience sampling is one of the most common types of sampling in research. This is because of the benefits that convenience sample brings to the researcher. However, there are some limitations. You will learn about both in this lesson.

What Is Convenience Sampling?

Blair is conducting a study for her statistics class. She wants to know what types of video games college students prefer to play. She decides give everyone in her statistics class a survey asking each student about his or her video game preferences. In this study, Blair is using convenience sampling to conduct her research.

In this lesson, you will learn about convenience sampling, including its definition, some examples, its benefits, and its limitations.

First, let's discuss the definition of convenience sampling. Convenience sampling is a sampling method where the researcher selects the research sample based on ease and proximity to the researcher. This is different from random sampling. Blair is using convenience sampling in her research project because the members of her statistics class are in close proximity to Blair. The students are easy to reach and easy for Blair to contact and, therefore, convenient in her research.

Now let's discuss the benefits of convenience sampling.

Benefits of Convenience Sampling

There are many benefits of convenience sampling. These benefits often include:

  • Close sample proximity
  • Fast and inexpensive
  • Working within the limits of your resources

First, convenience samples are advantageous because of the proximity of the sample. For example, Blair's sample, the students in her statistics class, are a very close and easily accessible sample group. Many researchers use this method of sampling because of the proximity of the sample group. When researchers ask individuals to participate in a study, they are using convenience sampling because the participants are being asked to volunteer to take part in a study as they are easy to contact, rather than being randomly selected. Only if the volunteers are then randomly pulled out from the larger group of everyone who volunteered to partake in the study would this fall under random sampling.

Second, convenience sampling is advantageous because of the speed at which data can be collected. It takes a great deal of time to collect information about a population and contact individuals that are randomly selected to be a part of the study. It is often easier and faster to simply use the individuals who volunteer to participate in the study.

Third, convenience sampling is advantageous because of the reduced cost of the study. It would be more costly to spend the time and resources to obtain randomly selected participants in a study than participants who were selected conveniently. Data collection can be costly; it is easier and less expensive to collect data using volunteers that are in close proximity to the researchers.

Lastly, convenience sampling does not require a great deal of resources compared to random sampling. Sometimes, random sampling requires researchers to travel and pay participants or supply certain items to the participants.

Let's look at all of these advantages in our example. Blair could randomly select students from her college to participate in her video game study. Then, she may have to pay the participants to take part in the study. Some of the participants may not play video games, so Blair would have to select a number of video games and either let each participant play these video games in a lab setting or at home. If she buys each participant a number of games, then this would be very costly. If she lets each participant borrow the video games for an extended period of time, then this would take a lot of time to collect data from each participant. If the participants commute to the college, then collecting data from these participants may require even more effort on Blair's part because of the distance.

As you can see from this example, Blair could be spending a lot of time, money, and other resources collecting this data by using random sampling instead of convenience sampling.

Next, let's discuss the limitations of using convenience sampling.

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