Sampling Methods

Systematic Sampling

Systematic sampling is a statistical method involving the selection of elements from an ordered sampling frame. The most common form of systematic sampling is an equal-probability method, in which every kth element in the frame is selected, where k, the sampling interval (sometimes known as the skip), is calculated as:

k = \frac {N}{n}

where n is the sample size, and N is the population size.

Using this procedure each element in the population has a known and equal probability of selection. This makes systematic sampling functionally similar to simple random sampling. It is however, much more efficient (if variance within systematic sample is more than variance of population).

The researcher must ensure that the chosen sampling interval does not hide a pattern. Any pattern would threaten randomness. A random starting point must also be selected.

Systematic sampling is to be applied only if the given population is logically homogeneous, because systematic sample units are uniformly distributed over the population.

Example: Suppose a supermarket wants to study buying habits of their customers, then using systematic sampling they can choose every 10th or 15th customer entering the supermarket and conduct the study on this sample.

This is random sampling with a system. From the sampling frame, a starting point is chosen at random, and choices thereafter are at regular intervals. For example, suppose you want to sample 8 houses from a street of 120 houses. 120/8=15, so every 15th house is chosen after a random starting point between 1 and 15. If the random starting point is 11, then the houses selected are 11, 26, 41, 56, 71, 86, 101, and 116.