Based on how you collect data, a research is classified into probability or non-probability sampling technique. Convenience sampling is a non-probability sampling technique.
If you want to conduct a survey on a particular topic, you have to reach out to many people. You have to prepare a questionnaire and get people to answer it. Based on the response you get, you can draw conclusions. Thus, a survey can give you an idea about the views and opinions of the people. It can also give you the necessary facts and information about a particular issue, product, or event.
You can reach out to people in many ways. You can go to places like an office, college, or school where a lot of people can be available in one go. You can approach people in public places like a mall, park, etc. If you have the resources, you can connect to people via the print and electronic media like newspapers, magazines, television, and websites to name a few.
Convenience Sampling with Examples
Convenience sampling is a sampling technique in which you collect samples of data from people who are easily accessible to you.
Example 1: If you approach the higher authorities in an organization so that you can conduct a survey on its employees, you may not receive permission for doing so. However, they may allow you to approach whoever you can in their free time. You can stand near the cafeteria and get participants for your survey. This is called convenience sampling. In this case, you get a chance to collect data from people who are conveniently accessible to you.
Example 2: If you want to study about the physical and mental condition of women who suffer from PMS (premenstrual syndrome), you can approach the patients of a particular doctor or a hospital. There will be women who will voluntarily participate in your research. Thus, this becomes an example of convenience sampling as the subjects are conveniently accessible to you.
Although this sampling technique can be reached to completion, how much we can learn from it is a debatable topic. You should first weigh the pros and cons of this method. Hence, we discuss them further in this BusinessZeal article.
Advantages of Convenience Sampling
Ease of Availability
As the name suggests, the major advantage of convenience sampling is the convenience with which it can be carried out. Subjects for a study are easily available within the proximity of the researcher. Hence, the researcher does not have to do any extra effort or go out of the way to gather data.
In our example of the study of PMS, we get data from women who voluntarily agree because they support the cause. So our research can be conducted in spite of the topic being a personal issue and difficult to investigate.
With the convenience sampling technique, the survey can be conducted in a short span of time. This happens because we don't conduct an exhaustive research of the entire population, but we aim to gather primary data on a topic by asking a handful of easily approachable people.
It is a very cost-effective option. When funding is not available for a study, you can collect data using this sampling technique.
Useful in a Pilot Study
This sampling technique helps to gain initial primary data about a topic. These findings can serve as pointers and help you to decide your further line of action. You can understand whether the topic deserves a more detailed research or not. If yes, you can write a funding proposal and ask for a grant to conduct a more exhaustive research.
Disadvantages of Convenience Sampling
Possibility of Being Biased
The data collected by this method may represent the views of a specific group and not the entire population. Some groups are over-represented and some groups are under-represented.
In our example of the study of PMS, we gather information from women who are patients of a particular doctor or a hospital. Here, we leave out the patients of other clinics. Also, we are not covering all possible age groups. We are also not covering women from all strata of society and from other cities. Thus, our findings do not represent the entire population.
High Possibility of a Sampling Error
Since your selection itself is biased, inaccuracies are bound to creep in. This is known as a sampling error.
Results Cannot be Generalized
For the reasons stated above, you cannot generalize the conclusions drawn from this research and say that this is what applies to all the people. You can identify trends, but you cannot formulate rules or laws. You can also not make a statement as they are not representative of the entire population.
Thus, keep the advantages and disadvantages of convenience sampling in mind so that you take a wise decision before and after you conduct research.