Statistics Dictionary

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Sample Design

A sample design is made up of two elements.

  • Sampling method. Sampling method refers to the rules and procedures by which some elements of the population are included in the sample. Some common sampling methods are simple random sampling , stratified sampling , and cluster sampling .

  • Estimator. The estimation process for calculating sample statistics is called the estimator. Different sampling methods may use different estimators. For example, the formula for computing a mean score with a simple random sample is different from the formula for computing a mean score with a stratified sample. Similarly, the formula for the standard error may vary from one sampling method to the next.

The "best" sample design depends on survey objectives and on survey resources. For example, a researcher might select the most economical design that provides a desired level of precision. Or, if the budget is limited, a researcher might choose the design that provides the greatest precision without going over budget.

See also:   Tutorial: Survey Sampling