There are different types of sampling designs based on two factors viz., the representation basis and the element selection technique. On the representation basis, the sample may be probability sampling or it may be non-probability sampling. Probability sampling is based on the concept of random selection, whereas non-probability sampling is ‘non-random’ sampling. On element selection basis, the sample may be either unrestricted or restricted. When each sample element is drawn individually from the population at large, then the sample so drawn is known as ‘unrestricted sample’, whereas all other forms of sampling are covered under the term ‘restricted sampling’. The following chart exhibits the sample designs as explained above.
Thus, sample designs are basically of two types viz., non-probability sampling and probability sampling. We take up these two designs separately.
CHART SHOWING BASIC SAMPLING DESIGNS
Non-probability sampling: Non-probability sampling is that sampling procedure which does not afford any basis for estimating the probability that each item in the population has of being included in the sample. Non-probability sampling is also known by different names such as deliberate sampling, purposive sampling and judgement sampling. In this type of sampling, items for the sample are selected deliberately by the researcher; his choice concerning the items remains supreme. In other words, under non-probability sampling the organisers of the inquiry purposively choose the particular units of the universe for constituting a sample on the basis that the small mass that they so select out of a huge one will be typical or representative of the whole. For instance, if economic conditions of people living in a state are to be studied, a few towns and villages may be purposively selected for intensive study on the principle that they can be representative of the entire state. Thus, the judgement of the organisers of the study plays an important part in this sampling design.
Probability sampling: Probability sampling is also known as ‘random sampling’ or ‘chance sampling’. Under this sampling design, every item of the universe has an equal chance of inclusion in the sample. It is, so to say, a lottery method in which individual units are picked up from the whole group not deliberately but by some mechanical process. Here it is blind chance alone that determines whether one item or the other is selected. The results obtained from probability or random sampling can be assured in terms of probability i.e., we can measure the errors of estimation or the significance of results obtained from a random sample, and this fact brings out the superiority of random sampling design over the deliberate sampling design. Random sampling ensures the law of Statistical Regularity which states that if on an average the sample chosen is a random one, the sample will have the same composition and characteristics as the universe. This is the reason why random sampling is considered as the best technique of selecting a representative sample.In such a design, personal element has a great chance of entering into the selection of the sample. The investigator may select a sample which shall yield results favourable to his point of view and if that happens, the entire inquiry may get vitiated. Thus, there is always the danger of bias entering into this type of sampling technique. But in the investigators are impartial, work without bias and have the necessary experience so as to take sound judgement, the results obtained from an analysis of deliberately selected sample may be tolerably reliable. However, in such a sampling, there is no assurance that every element has some specifiable chance of being included. Sampling error in this type of sampling cannot be estimated and the element of bias, great or small, is always there. As such this sampling design in rarely adopted in large inquires of importance. However, in small inquiries and researches by individuals, this design may be adopted because of the relative advantage of time and money inherent in this method of sampling. Quota sampling is also an example of non-probability sampling. Under quota sampling the interviewers are simply given quotas to be filled from the different strata, with some restrictions on how they are to be filled. In other words, the actual selection of the items for the sample is left to the interviewer’s discretion. This type of sampling is very convenient and is relatively inexpensive. But the samples so selected certainly do not possess the characteristic of random samples. Quota samples are essentially judgement samples and inferences drawn on their basis are not amenable to statistical treatment in a formal way.