Censuses and Samples

As with most concepts presented in this course, there is no one best way to design a research project. This is also true with sampling designs. The focus should be on selecting the most appropriate design for your research project. This choice depends on the purpose of your research.

If you are interested in generalizing results to a larger population, you will need a representative sample. Representative samples require probability types of designs. If you are not interested in generalizing results and are in the very early exploratory stages of research, non-probability designs will probably suffice.

For this Discussion, review this week’s Learning Resources. Consider the research question you identified in Week 3 and the most appropriate way to construct a sampling design to answer this research question. If you are using the Virtual Community of New Harbor for your previous Discussions and Assignments, review the “New Harbor, Delaware Sampling Background” document. Select a sampling design you think is most appropriate for your research project.

Post by Day 3 a brief description of the sampling design you selected for your evaluation. Explain why this sampling design is the most appropriate for your evaluation, listing its benefits and limitations. If you used the New Harbor Virtual Community, post a brief description of the sampling design that would work best for the candidate that you selected (e.g., Mayor Samuel Taylor, Councilmember Alec Coppel, or Candidate Mary Davenport). Please refer to the “New Harbor Sampling Background” document for more information on each of these candidates.


  • Johnson, G. (2014). Research methods for public administrators (3rd ed.). Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharpe.
    • Chapter 10, “Sampling Demystified” (pp. 145–161)
  • McCauley, C. (2012). Testing theories of radicalization in polls of U.S. Muslims. Analyses of Social Issues and Public Policy, 12(1), 296–311.

  • Lee Abbott, M., & McKinney, J. (2012) Learning from populations: Censuses and samples. In Understanding and applying research design. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.
  • Silver, N. (2012). Which polls fared best (and worst) in the 2012 presidential election? New York Times, November 12, 2012.
  • Gallup.com. (2013). How does Gallup polling work? 
  • Document: New Harbor, Delaware and sampling designs (PDF)
    • Laureate Education (Producer). (2013c). Virtual community. [Multimedia file]. Baltimore, MD: Author.

      “Virtual Community” Transcript (PDF)Media Links to Support Virtual Community Stakeholders:The links below help provide more information about various stakeholders and organizations, and data about some of the issues they need to address.
    • Center for Political Communication. (2013). University of Delaware Center for Political Communication: September 2013 national agenda poll. 
    • Public Policy Polling. (2014).
    • Jones, J. M. (2014, January). Record-high 42% of Americans identify as independents. Gallup Politics.

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