Encyclopedia Entry

Purposive Sampling

Ted Palys

To say one will engage in purposive sampling signifies that one sees sampling as a series of strategic choices about with whom, where, and how one does one's research. This statement implies that the way that researchers sample must be tied to their objectives. A second implication follows from the first: There is no one best sampling strategy because which is best will depend on the context in which researchers are working and the nature of their research objective(s). Purposive sampling is virtually synonymous with qualitative research. However, because there are many objectives that qualitative researchers might have, the list of purposive strategies that may be followed is virtually endless, and any given list will reflect only the range of situations the author of that list has considered. Nevertheless, some specific objectives and interests characterize qualitative research. For one thing, qualitative researchers are less often interested in asking about central ...

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