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Monday, January 7, 2013

Essay on the Importance of Random Selection

Essay on the Importance of Random Selection

Write a 600 word essay that discusses why random selection is necessary for sampling to be effective and 
statistically accurate.

In a study, it is often difficult to observe each and every element within a researcher’s chosen population. Often data is collected from a subset of elements, called samples, from the population and the observed characteristics are treated true for the entire set. In almost all studies, it is important that the chosen subset is highly representative of the entire population so that the conclusion collected from the samples can be applicable to the entire population.

There are two sampling procedures often used by researchers when conducting a study (especially in social sciences research), these are probability and non-probability sampling. In probability sampling all the elements of a chosen population have equal opportunities of being included in the sample. Also the probability of an element’s chance of being selected can be mathematically computed.     

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A sample is considered to be random if it has been selected from a finite population wherein each element of the population has been assigned an equal chance of being selected.  This process is known as Random Selection or Random Sampling as it is more popularly called. Random sampling is also often done in a single stage with each of elements selected independently. This definition however must not be misinterpreted as a random sample isn’t truly “representative” of the population. Rather, random sample is employed so that any “bias” is eliminated and all individuals are given equal chances of selection. 

Random sampling allows a researcher to impersonally choose the participants or respondents of his or her study. If the researcher fails to employ random sampling he or she may run the risk of favouring a certain group or population as respondents ultimately affecting the results of the study. The danger in not using random sampling in any study is that the researcher runs the risk of gathering misguided or inaccurate results. To illustrate, results of studies (tackling public opinions or interests) that did not use any form of random sampling may not really reflect the general public opinion even though a very large sample size has been obtained (Russel, par. 1)

Random sampling is extremely important when conducting a quantitative research, such as surveys or polls. A sample which is highly random is more preferred since results of most quantitative researches are highly dependent on statistics. In contrast, qualitative researches, such as FGDs and the likes, do not usually employ random sampling since they are not statistical.   

Obtaining a perfect or almost perfect random sample however is not as easy as it seems. The most common problem encountered by researchers who use random sampling is acquiring a complete list of all the elements within the desired population. In such cases, the most popular method used to obtain a complete listing of elements is through the use of a city’s telephone book. As with any other methods however there are always draw backs, such as the exclusion of those who do not have telephones, those who have unlisted numbers, or those who prefer to use cell phones rather than land lines. Another problem usually encountered by researchers when using random sampling is the difficulty in locating some of the elements of the population. Some individuals may no longer be residing in a particular area included in your sampling frame or they may have relocated to a different place.    

However as researchers have discovered, the size of the population does not greatly affect the accuracy of the results yielded by the samples randomly chosen. Rather it is the low response rate of the chosen sample which greatly affects the accuracy of the results.      


Herek, Gregory M. "Introduction to Sampling." UC Davis, Psychology. N.p., 2012. Web. 6 Jan. 2013. <>.
"NEDARC - Random Selection." NEDARC - National EMSC Data Analysis Resouce Center. N.p., 14 Aug. 2012. Web. 6 Jan. 2013. <>.
Russel, Susan H. "Importance of Random Sampling." The Program | Online MA (OLMA) in Political Science at Virginia Tech. N.p., n.d. Web. 6 Jan. 2013. <>.

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