What is the ideal sample size in qualitative research?

You have your research topic ready, a questionnaire prepared, and all you need is the data to prove your hypothesis. But the question that creeps in is how many people should you interview or what will make the perfect sample for your research.

As you are on the blog, let’s figure it out.

Qualitative research is created for providing quality to an issue and is not based on numbers. It’s more of a statement that is being calculated via qualitative research.

Before revealing the ideal sample size, we have to consider some factors involved:-

-The subject matter on which you are conducting the research.

-The kind of qualitative research that is going to be conducted i.e

  • 1-To build a theory - For which, the data collected for sampling will be completed when the organizer reaches a theoretical saturation or conceptual saturation. It aims to create a new prospect.
  • 2- To add complimentary in-depth information in an existing theory or to explore the theory. The researcher also has to reach saturation, which is when the researcher gets information that is not already available.

-Determining whether the study population is homogeneous or heterogeneous.

-The criteria of selecting participants, the budget of the research, the time frame, and the structure of the research.

Let’s clear out what saturation is?

Saturation refers to the point at which you have enough data to develop or validate your theory.

How to determine saturation?

You can determine saturation when you realize that your interviews are becoming repetitive or aren't giving you a new perspective.

Now, as we laid out all the factors to be considered, the question remains “WHAT’S THE IDEAL SAMPLE SIZE FOR QUALITATIVE RESEARCH ?”

  • The answer is there is no fixed size. It can range from a minimum of 5 respondents to a maximum of 50 respondents. Do a trial run with at least 5, then raise your numbers depending upon your needs.
  • It's dependent on the paradigm of the subject and the depth that the researcher is aiming through the research.
  • Generally, it is suggested that the sample size of qualitative research should be small to create a personal relationship with the respondents.
  • The saturation point is also crucial in determining the position of the sample size.
  • It is a very contextual and independent factor, which varies from researcher to researcher.

For eg:- To find out the effects of covid-vaccine, the researcher can sample almost 50 people while to know the effects of dairy products on lactose intolerant people, the researcher can take 30 people under the sampling.

Limitations:-

As there is no fixed sample size for qualitative research, there are some limitations to it.

-There is no fixed number to follow which will yield guaranteed results. This can create a sense of uncertainty in the minds of the researcher.

-Long sample size has a chance of getting repetitive data.

At last, there is no fixed number. It all depends on the researcher and their subjects. You have to create a hit-and-run situation, to find your perfect sample size.

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