Discussion: purposeful sampling and saturation

 
   

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The research team met again to consider data sources. A research consultant facilitated the discussion and identified issues to be addressed in order for the results to be credible. Three key areas needed further study before they went into the field. These areas included:

1. How is the program positioned in the community, particularly regarding trust, diversity, and access? (Or as one team member said, “How do we see ‘them’? And, how do we think they ‘see’ us?”)

This issue initiated an action plan for an organizational self-study to produce reflexive data before, during, and after field data collection.

2. What data sources would best answer the research questions?

Multiple sources, including families who had used program services as well as those that did not; field observations (going out into neighborhoods to become acquainted with local, non-professional resources); and the materials collected from the self-study. 

3. How many participants should be included in the sample?
The consultant clarified that the purpose of the sample was not to generalize to the target population—so bigger is not better. Rather, the team was encouraged to focus on selecting typical cases—homogenous, sub-groups—in order to efficiently saturate and develop a “solid understanding” (Guest, Bunce & Johnson, 2006, p. 77) of the phenomenon of the childcare experience in this community. The saturation goal means that the sample process is emergent and may change as the data become available. 

As you can see in the ongoing scenario, before venturing out into the field, researchers must consider how they will manage credibility of the data. As a qualitative researcher, you too will have to address the sources of data as well as your credibility.

For this week, you will examine research questions, explore qualitative research design, and consider purposeful sampling and saturation as a qualitative researcher.

The answer lies in how clearly you articulate the criteria for selecting data sources; (b) your ability to purposefully select cases; and (c) the extent to which those cases are “information-rich… for in-depth study” (Patton, 2015, p. 264) with respect to the purpose of the study. 

As you prepare for this week’s Discussion, consider turning your attention to the variety of purposeful sampling strategies you may consider in developing your research plan. Also consider that qualitative researchers seek a threshold or cut-off point for when to stop collecting data. There is no magic number (although there are guidelines). Rather, saturation occurs as an interface between the researcher and the data and (b) between data collection and data analysis to determine when enough is enough. 

For this Discussion, you will critique a sampling strategy used in a research article.

To prepare for this Discussion:

· Review the Guest, Bunce, and Johnson article; the Yob and Brewer article; and the Learning Resources related to sampling and saturation for this week.

By Day 3

Prepare a critique of the sampling strategy used by Yob and Brewer (n.d.). Include the following your critique:

· The purpose of the study

· Research questions

· Site selection 

· The type of purposeful sampling strategy the researchers applied. (Note: Use Table 4.3 in the Ravitch & Carl text or from Patton’s Chapter 5 to identify and describe the strategy that you think best fits what they described.)

· An alternative sampling strategy that the researchers could have considered. Explain your choice in terms of how the strategy is consistent with their research purpose and criteria for selecting cases. 

· Provide a data saturation definition and evaluate the work of the researchers in this article regarding their efforts to achieve data saturation. Note what the researchers could have done differently to convince you that the relevant and important themes emerged. 

Be sure to support your main post and response post with reference to the week’s Learning Resources and other scholarly evidence in APA style.

Ravitch, S. M., & Carl, N. M. (2016). Qualitative research: Bridging the conceptual, theoretical, and methodological. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

· Chapter 4, “Design and Reflexivity in Data Collection” (pp. 111–144)

o Table 4.3, “Purposeful Sampling Strategies” (pp. 129–137)

Rubin, H. J., & Rubin, I. S. (2012). Qualitative interviewing: The art of hearing data (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

· Chapter 3, “Qualitative Data-Gathering Methods and Style” (previously read in Week 3)

Patton, M. Q. (2015). Chapter 5, Module 30: Purposeful sampling and case selection: Overview of strategies and options. In Qualitative research and evaluation methods (4th ed., pp. 264–315). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Ravitch, S. M., & Carl, N. M. (2016). Qualitative research: Bridging the conceptual, theoretical, and methodological. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

· Chapter 4, “Design and Reflexivity in Data Collection” (pp. 111–144)

o Table 4.3, “Purposeful Sampling Strategies” (pp. 129–137)

Rubin, H. J., & Rubin, I. S. (2012). Qualitative interviewing: The art of hearing data (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

· Chapter 3, “Qualitative Data-Gathering Methods and Style” (previously read in Week 3)

Patton, M. Q. (2015). Chapter 5, Module 30: Purposeful sampling and case selection: Overview of strategies and options. In Qualitative research and evaluation methods (4th ed., pp. 264–315). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Guest, G., Bunce, A., and Johnson, L. (2006). How many Interviews are enough? An experiment with data saturation and variability. Field Methods 18(1), 59–82.