Sampling: Basic Concept: Defining the Universe

Sampling is a process used in statistical analysis in which a predetermined number of observations are taken from a larger population. The methodology used to sample from a larger population depends on the type of analysis being performed but may include simple random sampling or systematic sampling.

In business, a CPA performing an audit uses sampling to determine the accuracy of account balances in the financial statements, and managers use sampling to assess the success of the firm’s marketing efforts.

The sample should be a representation of the entire population. When taking a sample from a larger population, it is important to consider how the sample is chosen. To get a representative sample, the sample must be drawn randomly and encompass the whole population. For example, a lottery system could be used to determine the average age of students in a university by sampling 10% of the student body.

A good sample is one which satisfies all or few of the following conditions-

(i) Representativeness: When sampling method is adopted by the researcher, the basic assumption is that the samples so selected out of the population are the best representative of the population under study. Thus good samples are those who accurately represent the population. Probability sampling technique yield representative samples. On measurement terms, the sample must be valid. The validity of a sample depends upon its accuracy.

(ii) Accuracy: Accuracy is defined as the degree to which bias is absent from the sample. An accurate (unbiased) sample is one which exactly represents the population. It is free from any influence that causes any differences between sample value and population value.

(iii) Size: A good sample must be adequate in size and reliable. The sample size should be such that the inferences drawn from the sample are accurate to a given level of confidence to represent the entire population under study.

The size of sample depends on number of factors. Some important among them are:-

(i) Homogeneity or Heterogeneity of the universe: Selection of sample depends on the nature of the universe. It says that if the nature of universe is homogeneous then a small sample will represent the behavior of entire universe. This will lead to selection of small sample size rather than a large one. On the other hand, if the universe is heterogeneous in nature then samples are to be chosen as from each heterogeneous unit.

(ii) Number of classes proposed: If a large number of class intervals to be made then the size of sample should be more because it has to represent the entire universe. In case of small samples there is the possibility that some samples may not be included.

(iii) Nature of study: The size of sample also depends on the nature of study. For an intensive study which may be for a long time, large samples are to be chosen. Similarly, in case of general studies large number of respondents may be appropriate one but if the study is of technical in nature then the selection of large number of respondents may cause difficulty while gathering information.

Sampling is the act, process, or technique of selecting a representative part of a population for the purpose of determining the characteristics of the whole population. In other words, the process of selecting a sample from a population using special sampling techniques called sampling. It should be ensured in the sampling process itself that the sample selected is representative of the population.

Examples of Sample Tests for Marketing

Businesses aim to sell their products and/or services to target markets.  Before presenting products to the market, companies generally identify the needs and wants of their target audience. To do so, they may employ using a sample of the population to gain a better understanding of those needs to later create a product and/or service that meets those needs.  Gathering the opinions of the sample helps to identify the needs of the whole.


The population or universe represents the entire group of units which is the focus of the study. Thus, the population could consist of all the persons in the country, or those in a particular geographical location, or a special ethnic or economic group, depending on the purpose and coverage of the study. A population could also consist on non-human units such as farms, houses or business establishments.

The entire aggregation of items from which samples can be drawn is known as a population. In sampling, the population may refer to the units, from which the sample is drawn. Population or populations of interest are interchangeable terms. The term “unit” is used, as in a business research process, samples are not necessarily people all the time. A population of interest may be the universe of nations or cities. This is one of the first things the analyst needs to define properly while conducting a business research. Therefore, population, contrary to its general notion as a nation’s entire population has a much broader meaning in sampling. “N” represents the size of the population.

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