Convenience Sampling: Definition

Convenience Sampling (also called availability sampling) is a non-probability/non-random sampling technique used to create sample as per ease of access, readiness to be a part of the sample, availability at a given time slot or any other practical specifications of a particular element. The researcher chooses members merely on the basis of proximity and doesn’t consider whether they represent the entire population or not. Using this technique, they can observe habits, opinions, and viewpoints in the easiest possible manner.

Researchers use sampling techniques in situations where there are large populations to be tested as, in most cases, testing the entire population is practically impossible. Convenience sampling is the most commonly used sampling technique as it’s extremely prompt, uncomplicated, economical and also, members are readily approachable to be a part of the sample. It is used in situations where the principal research has been done without any supplementary inputs. There are no criteria that need to be considered to be a part of this sample and due to which it becomes extremely simplified to include elements in this sample. Every element of the population is eligible to be a part of this sample and is dependent on the proximity to the researcher to get included in the sample.

In school, there are situations where a teacher selects the first 2 rows to participate in the dance competition without testing their abilities or when an NGO selects top 20 cities to serve on the basis of proximity to where they’re based out of.

Convenience Sampling Examples:

  • The most basic example of where the convenience sampling method is used is when companies stop people at a mall or on a crowded street to distribute their promotional pamphlets and ask questions.
  • Businesses use convenience sampling method to gather information about critical issues that are to be addressed almost immediately or when a brand is collecting feedback about a particular feature or newly launched product from the sample created using this method.
  • During the initial stages of survey research, researchers usually prefer using convenience sampling as it’s quick and easy to deliver results.
  • Even if many statisticians avoid implementing this technique, convenience sampling is key in situations where you intend to get insights in a shorter time span or without investing too much money.
  • For instance, if you’re a marketing student who has been given a task to get feedback on “scope of content marketing in 2018”, you’d quickly create an online survey and send a link to all the contacts on your phone, share a link on social media and also talk to people you meet daily face-to-face.

Convenience Sampling Advantages:

  • Quick mode to collect data: The rules to gather elements for the sample are least complicated in comparison to methods such as simple random sampling, stratified sampling or systematic sampling. Due to this simplicity, data collection takes minimal time.  
  • Inexpensive to create samples: The money and time invested in other probability sampling methods are quite large when we compare it to convenience sampling. This allows researchers to create more samples with less or no investment and in a brief period of time.
  • Easily collectible samples: The name of this surveys gives a clear indication of how samples are formed. Elements are easily accessible by the researchers and so, collecting members for the sample becomes easy.
  • Follow fewer rules: Unlike probability sampling techniques, convenience sampling doesn’t require going through a checklist to filter members of an audience for sample creation. In case of this sampling method, gathering critical information and data becomes uncomplicated.

For instance, if NGO volunteers don’t have access to all the women in the city to conduct a survey on women empowerment, the volunteers must not wait for the managers to get a list of women. They can rather go to schools, colleges, offices etc. in your proximity and talk to the women at the entrance without having the list in hand even if you have time restrictions.

Method to reduce bias in Convenience Sampling:

The best way of reducing bias in convenience sampling is to use it along with probability sampling. Since convenience sampling is usually biased, probability sampling gets the measurement parameter with it to keep this bias under check.

After receiving a fair idea about this bias using probability sampling, the researcher can use results from both, convenience sampling and probability sampling techniques to draw more accurate estimation. The probability aspect that’s used along with convenience sampling will have to be powerful enough to overcome the bias. Bias can make the entire sample futile and that’s the last thing that a researcher needs which can be reduced or eliminated by including the probability sampling. 

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