Encyclopedia Entry

Data Saturation

Kristie Saumure & Lisa M. Given

Researchers commonly seek to collect data to explain a phenomenon of interest and then construct theories from the collected data. Theory construction takes place as the data are being collected. Saturation is the point in data collection when no new or relevant information emerges with respect to the newly constructed theory. Hence, a researcher looks at this as the point at which no more data need to be collected. When the theory appears to be robust, with no gaps or unexplained phenomena, saturation has been achieved and the resulting theory is more easily constructed. If the researcher does not attain data saturation, any resulting theory may be unbalanced, incomplete, and essentially untrustworthy. As ...

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