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the selection of part of a total population of consumers or products whose behaviour or performance can be analysed, in order to make inferences about the behaviour or performance of the total population, without the difficulty and expense of undertaking a complete census of the whole population.

Samples may be chosen randomly, with every consumer or product in the population having an equal chance of being included. Random samples are most commonly used by firms in QUALITY CONTROL where they are used as a basis for selecting products, components or materials for quality testing.

Alternatively, samples may be chosen by dividing up the total population into a number of distinct sub-groups or strata, then selecting a proportionate number of consumers or products from each sub-group since this is quicker and cheaper than random sampling. In MARKETING RESEARCH and opinion polling, quota sampling is usually employed where interviewers select the particular consumers to be interviewed, choosing the numbers of these consumers in proportion to their occurrence in the total population.

Samples may be:

  1. cross-sectional, where sample observations are collected at a particular point in time, for example data on company sales and the incomes of consumers in the current year, embracing a wide range of different income groups, as a basis for investigating the relationship between sales and income;
  2. longitudinal, where sample observations are collected over a number of time periods, for example data on changes in company sales over a number of years and changes in consumer incomes over the same time periods, as a basis for investigating the relationship between sales and income. See STATISTICAL INFERENCES, QUESTIONNAIRE.
References in periodicals archive ?
Several reasons have been given by these proponents to support their claims that sampling and sample size considerations are not relevant in qualitative research.
Further guidance on applying statistical sampling is found in Rev.
Although revenue procedure 2004 29 allows the use of statistical sampling, an analysis of such benefits cannot be accomplished solely through that method.
Therefore, the cost and effort associated with a sampling project are greatly reduced if multiple years can be combined into a single sample.
Sensors make sure the sampling rate doesn't get ahead of the test-instrument sequence.
Flinn said, "These bulk sampling results are helping Klondike Star accurately assess the grade of mineralized areas as part of delineating the potential mineral resources of the Lone Star gold project.
The memorandum provides guidance for determining when the use of sampling is proper.
The use of creams or ointments on the nipples should be used outside the sampling time for the analysis, but if this is not possible because of tenderness, the breasts should be washed thoroughly and rinsed with copious amounts of water before sampling.
How can businesses use sampling for filing tax returns?
In its first major use of sampling, the Census Bureau in 1940 introduced the "short form" set of questions for the majority of the population.
Although audit sampling is a useful technique, practitioners often have problems using Statement on Auditing Standards no.
Video sampling solution offers new ways to extend, monetize and protect mastered video content