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Methods

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publication research, interviews, surveys and other research techniques, and could include both present and historical

information.

The methodology describes the broad philosophical underpinning to your chosen research methods, including whether you

are using qualitative or quantitative methods, or a mixture of both, and why.

Methodology is the way in which information is found or the way the research is done. Methodology includes the techniques,

methods, and procedures which are used for collecting and analyzing information.

Methodology is the study of tools and techniques for research design, measurement, and data analysis.

A methodology is the rationale for the research approach, and the lens through which the analysis occurs. Said another way, a

methodology describes the “general research strategy that outlines the way in which research is to be undertaken” (An

Introduction to the Philosophy of Methodology, Howell 2013). The methodology should impact which method(s) for a

research endeavor are selected in order to generate the compelling data.

Methodology – explain when, where, and how the research was done.

Sampling is a process or technique of choosing a sub-group from a population to participate in the study; it is the process of

selecting a number of individuals for a study in such a way that the individuals selected represent the large group from which

they were selected (Ogula, 2005). There are two major sampling procedures in research. These include probability and non

probability sampling.

In probability sampling, everyone has an equal chance of being selected. This scheme is one in which every unit in the

population has a chance (greater than zero) of being selected in the sample. There are four basic types of sampling procedures

associated with probability samples. These include simple random, systematic sampling, stratified and cluster.

Simple random sampling provides the base from which the other more complex sampling methodologies are derived. To

conduct a simple random sample, the researcher must first prepare an exhaustive list (sampling frame) of all members of the

population of interest. From this list, the sample is drawn so that each person or item has an equal chance of being drawn

during each selection round (Kanupriya, 2012).

To draw a simple random sample without introducing researcher bias, computerized sampling programs and random number

tables are used to impartially select the members of the population to be sampled. Subjects in the population are sampled by a

random process, using either a random number generator or a random number table, so that each person remaining in the

population has the same probability of being selected for the sample (Friedrichs, 2008).

Systematic sampling procedure often used in place of simple random sampling. In systematic sampling, the researcher selects

every nth member after randomly selecting the first through nth element as the starting point. For example, if the researcher

decides to sample 20 repondents from a sample of 100, every 5th member of the population will systematically be selected.

A researcher may choose to conduct a systematic sample instead of a simple random sample for several reasons. Firstly,

systematic samples tend to be easier to draw and execute, secondly, the researcher does not have to go back and forth through

the sampling frame to draw the members to be sampled, thirdly, a systematic sample may spread the members selected for

measurement more evenly across the entire population than simple random sampling. Therefore, in some cases, systematic

sampling may be more representative of the population and more precise (Groves et al., 2006).

Stratified sampling procedure is the most effective method of sampling when a researcher wants to get a representative

sample of a population. It involves categorizing the members of the population into mutually exclusive and collectively

exhaustive groups. An independent simple random sample is then drawn from each group. Stratified sampling techniques can

provide more precise estimates if the population being surveyed is more heterogeneous than the categorized groups. This

technique can enable the researcher to determine desired levels of sampling precision for each group, and can provide

administrative efficiency. The main advantage of the approach is that it’s able to give the most representative sample of a

population (Hunt & Tyrrell, 2001).

In cluster sampling, a cluster (a group of population elements), constitutes the sampling unit, instead of a single element of the

population. The sampling in this technique is mainly geographically driven. The main reason for cluster sampling is cost

efficiency (economy and feasibility). The sampling frame is also often readily available at cluster level and takes short time for

listing and implementation. The technique is also suitable for survey of institutions (Ahmed, 2009) or households within a

given geographical area.

But the design is not without disadvantages, some of the challenges that stand out are: it may not reflect the diversity of the

community; other elements in the same cluster may share similar characteristics; provides less information per observation

than an SRS of the same size (redundant information: similar information from the others in the cluster); standard errors of

the estimates are high, compared to other sampling designs with the same sample size.

Non probability sampling is used in some situations, where the population may not be well defined. In other situations, there

may not be great interest in drawing inferences from the sample to the population. The most common reason for using non

probability sampling procedure is that it is less expensive than probability sampling procedure and can often be implemented

more quickly (Michael, 2011). It includes purposive, convenience and quota sampling procedures.

In purposive sampling procedure, the researcher chooses the sample based on who he/she thinks would be appropriate for

the study. The main objective of purposive sampling is to arrive as at a sample that can adequately answer the research

objectives. The selection of a purposive sample is often accomplished by applying expert knowledge of the target population to

select in a non random manner a sample that represents a cross-section of the population (Henry, 1990).

A major disadvantage of this method is subjectivity since another researcher is likely to come up with a different sample when

identifying important characteristics and picking typical elements to be in the sample. Given the subjectivity of the selection

mechanism, purposive sampling is generally considered most appropriate for the selection of small samples often from a

limited geographic area or from a restricted population definition. The knowledge and experience of the researcher making

the selections is a key aspect of the ‘‘success’’ of the resulting sample (Michael, 2011). A case study research design for

instance, employs purposive sampling procedure to arrive at a particular ‘case’ of study and a given group of respondents. Key

informants are also selected using this procedure.

Convenience sampling is sometimes known as opportunity, accidental or haphazard sampling sampling. It is a type of

nonprobability sampling which involves the sample being drawn from that part of the population which is close to hand, that

is, a population which is readily available and convenient. The researcher using such a sample cannot scientifically make

generalizations about the total population from this sample because it would not be representative enough (Michael, 2011).

This type of sampling is most useful for pilot testing.

Convenience sampling differs from purposive sampling in that expert judgment is not used to select a representative sample.

The primary selection criterion relates to the ease of obtaining a sample. Ease of obtaining the sample relates to the cost of

locating elements of the population, the geographic distribution of the sample, and obtaining the interview data from the

selected elements (de Leeuw, Hox & Huisman, 2003).

When conducting quantitative research, it is very important to determine the sample size for your study. Your sample needs to

represent the target population you plan to examine. Sample size calculation should be done before you set off to collect any of

your data. Almost all researchers generally like to work with large samples. However, this is not always feasible — especially

for students (time, money, resources, etc.) — so it is a good idea to assess your need before any real research takes place to

determine how many participants you really need (and can feasibly get) before planning your research.

Here are some expressions you will most likely come across when designing your study and deciding on a sample size.

Population – This is the complete set of data points, for example, all Americans.

Target population – This is the complete group for which you are studying; your data will have specific

characteristics (demographics, clinical characteristics) that you are interested in — for example, Americans over the

age of 65, who live at home and have had a stroke in the past 6 months.

Sample – A subset of the target population that represents the target population.

Margin of Error – The margin of error is about a degree of uncertainty in statistics. How much error will you allow?

We would like the mean of our data to represent the mean of the target population; however, this is generally not

going to happen. The margin of error tells us how much higher or lower than the true value will we let our sample

mean fall. In articles, you usually see a +/-5% or +/-3% margin of error.

Confidence Interval – Confidence interval (CI) is usually set at 90%, 95% or 99%. It tells us how confident we are

that if the study was repeated again and again, we would get the same results. If confidence level is 95%, we would get

the same results in 95% of the cases.

Standard Deviation – Standard deviation tells us the variation in the data from your sample.

Power – This refers to the chance of missing a real difference (‘false negatives’). Usually, studies have a power of

around 80%, which means that you accept the possibility that in 20% of the cases, the real difference was missed (you

concluded there was no effect when there was one). Larger samples generally yield higher statistical power.

What Should Be the Sample Size?

Determining the sample size to be selected is an important step in any research study. For example let us suppose that some

researcher wants to determine prevalence of eye problems in school children and wants to conduct a survey.

The important question that should be answered in all sample surveys is "How many participants should be chosen for a

survey"? However, the answer cannot be given without considering the objectives and circumstances of investigations.

The choosing of sample size depends on non-statistical considerations and statistical considerations. The non-statistical

considerations may include availability of resources, manpower, budget, ethics and sampling frame. The statistical

considerations will include the desired precision of the estimate of prevalence and the expected prevalence of eye problems in

school children.

Following three criteria need to be specified to determine the appropriate samples size:

Also called sampling error, the level of precision, is the range in which the true value of the population is estimated to be. This

is range is expressed in percentage points. Thus, if a researcher finds that 70% of farmers in the sample have adopted a

recommend technology with a precision rate of ~+mn~5%, then the researcher can conclude that between 65% and 75% of

farmers in the population have adopted the new technology.

The confidence interval is the statistical measure of the number of times out of 100 that results can be expected to be within a

specified range.

For example, a confidence interval of 90% means that results of an action will probably meet expectations 90% of the time.

The basic idea described in Central Limit Theorem is that when a population is repeatedly sampled, the average value of an

attribute obtained is equal to the true population value. In other words, if a confidence interval is 95%, it means 95 out of 100

samples will have the true population value within range of precision.

3. Degree of Variability

Depending upon the target population and attributes under consideration, the degree of variability varies considerably. The

more heterogeneous a population is, the larger the sample size is required to get an optimum level of precision. Note that a

proportion of 55% indicates a high level of variability than either 10% or 80%. This is because 10% and 80% means that a

large majority does not or does, respectively, have the attribute under consideration.

There are number of approaches to determine the sample size including: using a census for smaller populations, using

published tables, imitating a sample size of similar studies, and applying formulas to calculate a sample size.

Sample size measures the number of individual samples measured or observations used in a survey or

experiment. For example, if you test 100 samples of soil for evidence of acid rain, your sample size is 100.

If an online survey returned 30,500 completed questionnaires, your sample size is 30,500. In

statistics, sample size is generally represented by the variable "n".

1. Slovin's Formula

Slovin's formula

- is used to calculate the sample size (n) given the population size (N) and a margin of error (e).

whereas:

n = no. of samples

N = total population

e = error margin / margin of error

- If a sample is taken from a population, a formula must be used to take into account confidence levels and margins of error.

When taking statistical samples, sometimes a lot is known about a population, sometimes a little and sometimes nothing at all.

For example, we may know that a population is normally distributed (e.g., for heights, weights or IQs), we may know that there

is a bimodal distribution (as often happens with class grades in mathematics classes) or we may have no idea about how a

population is going to behave (such as polling college students to get their opinions about quality of student life). Slovin's

formula is used when nothing about the behavior of a population is known at at all.

- To use the formula, first figure out what you want your error of tolerance to be. For example, you may be happy with a

confidence level of 95 percent (giving a margin error of 0.05), or you may require a tighter accuracy of a 98 percent confidence

level (a margin of error of 0.02). Plug your population size and required margin of error into the formula. The result will be the

number of samples you need to take.

n = 1000 / (1 + 250)

n = 3.984063745 = 4 samplings

A researcher plans to conduct a survey. If the population on High City is 1,000,000 , find the sample size if the margin

of error is 25%

Given:

N = 1,000,000

e = 25% = 0.025

n = 1,000,000/(1 + 1,000,000 · 0.000625 )

n = 1,000,000/(1 + 625 )

n = 1,000,000/626

n = 1597.44 or approx. 1597

Suppose that you have a group of 1,000 city government employees and you want to survey them to find out which

tools are best suited to their jobs. You decide that you are happy with a margin of error of 0.05. Using Slovin's formula,

you would be required to survey n = N / (1 + Ne^2) people:

The Mean, Median and Mode are the arithmetic average of a data set. This is found by adding the numbers in a data set and dividing by how

many numbers there are. The median is the middle number in a data set when the numbers are listed in either ascending or descending

order. The mode is the value that occurs the most often in a data set, and the range is the difference between the highest and lowest values in

a data set.

The Mean

x¯¯¯=∑xN

Here,

∑ represents the summation

X represents scores

N represents number of scores.

The Median

If the total number of numbers(n) is an odd number, then the formula is given below:

Median=(n+1n)thterm

If the total number of the numbers(n) is an even number, then the formula is given below:

Median=(n2)thterm+(n2+1)thterm2

The Mode

Themodeisthemostfrequentlyoccuringscoreorvalue.

Solved Examples

Question: Find the mean, median, mode, and range for the following list of values: 13, 18, 13, 14, 13, 16, 14, 21, 13

Solution:

Given sequence: 13, 18, 13, 14, 13, 16, 14, 21, 13

13+18+13+14+13+16+14+21+139=15

Note that the mean isn’t a value from the original list. This is a common result. You should not assume that your mean will be one of your

original numbers.

There are nine numbers in the list, so the middle one will be

9+12=102=5

= 5th number, So the median is 14.

The mode is the number that is repeated more often than any other, so 13 is the mode.

The largest value in the list is 21, and the smallest is 13, so the range is 21 – 13 = 8.

mean: 15

median: 14

mode: 13

range: 8

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