Sampling for Dummies
The idea of sampling is not hard to grasp, but methodological discussions about sampling can quickly move into the higher reaches of mathematics and probability that confuse even researchers who are not statisticians. Ever wonder what we are talking about when we refer to “probability samples?” Or the rationale for not reporting margins of error? Or why there is no such thing as a “statistically significant sample size?”
AAPOR and the ASA are offering a great way for non-statisticians to learn more about sampling. AAPOR is the American Association of Public Opinion Research, and the ASA is the American Statistical Association. In February they are hosting an introductory webinar on sampling for non-statisticians that that we recommend. It is being taught by a senior statistician at NORC, and will cover such topics as:
- The logic of sampling
- The concept of a sampling frame
- The difference between a sample and a census
- The process of sampling
- Different types of samples
- Probability vs. non-probability sampling
- Sampling error and non-sampling error
- Sample size considerations
- Post-sampling steps
The webinar is described as “a course to expose non-statisticians to sampling so that they are able to read and understand articles or documents describing sampling designs and communicate with statisticians about their research needs.”
The work that we do at Versta Research always starts with the art of asking questions (so we know what our research must “do”) then moves into the rigors of research design, which typically involves the science of sampling, then back again into the art and science of turning data into stories. If you have always had a nagging feeling that you ought to know just a little bit more about that middle piece—the science of sampling—without having to get a four year degree in statistics, here’s your chance.
—Joe Hopper, Ph.D.