Sampling in Qualitative Research: Rationale, Issues, and Methods

Res Aging. 1995 Mar 1;17(1):89-113. doi: 10.1177/0164027595171005.


In gerontology the most recognized and elaborate discourse about sampling is generally thought to be in quantitative research associated with survey research and medical research. But sampling has long been a central concern in the social and humanistic inquiry, albeit in a different guise suited to the different goals. There is a need for more explicit discussion of qualitative sampling issues. This article will outline the guiding principles and rationales, features, and practices of sampling in qualitative research. It then describes common questions about sampling in qualitative research. In conclusion it proposes the concept of qualitative clarity as a set of principles (analogous to statistical power) to guide assessments of qualitative sampling in a particular study or proposal.