While conducting research, it is essential to avoid any confusion regarding its concept. For this purpose, researchers indulge in conceptualization and operationalization, identifying the exact definition of the research subject and its variables (Schutt & Bachman, 2010). For example, the operational definition of the word assault can and should differ from what the dictionary defines it as. Assault is generally a physical attack on someone; however, this definition is too broad and might be misunderstood when conducting criminal research.
The operational definition of the word assault can be widened to an attempted assault or completed assault to ensure the clarity and precision of the research’s concept. The operational definition can specify the type of assault, such as verbal, sexual, or aggravated. The circumstances of the assault can be stated in the operational definition, narrowing the concept even more in contrast to the dictionary. These circumstances can include such variables as time, place, age, and gender (Schutt & Bachman, 2010). On account of factors that can be specified about a research concept like assault, the result of the operational definition of the word is far from simple physical assault. Such manipulations are necessary to ensure the best understanding of the research possible.
Probabilistic Sampling Techniques
Probabilistic sampling techniques are most useful and preferred in conducting quantitative research. Using random selection allows researchers to define a non-bias representative sample (Schutt & Bachman, 2010). However, sometimes, the random selection techniques are not viable due to the circumstances of the study subject. Most of these cases fall under the category of qualitative research and require the use of non-probabilistic sampling techniques. Such measures are needed to investigate a small portion of a population or perform a preliminary, exploratory study (Schutt & Bachman, 2010). For example, the situation where it would not be feasible to use a probabilistic sampling technique is research and rationalization of bank robbers’ behavior. In this case, there is a lack of a bank robbers’ population list to select and define as a sample. Additionally, a fieldwork study focused on acquiring detailed information about a specific group of the population cannot always use probabilistic sampling techniques (Schutt & Bachman, 2010). As such, availability, snowball, quota, and other methods of non-probability sampling are preferred; however, their use needs to be specified, describing the procedure to acknowledge the non-representativeness of the sample selection.
Non-probabilistic Sampling Techniques
Typically, the use of nonprobability-based sampling methods is not desirable in research. Nevertheless, they are performed when random sampling is inconvenient or impossible (Schutt & Bachman, 2010). Since non-probability methods are unable to represent a selected portion of a population, the finding must be carefully qualified. For example, the information acquired on one part of a population does not ensure its relevance to another group (Schutt & Bachman, 2010). As such, the research that uses these methods can be considered valid in answering the posed question about the examined phenomenon. However, the generalizability of the findings and answers is not reliable. Due to this, such research should not be taken as solid proof. Instead, their limitations must always be considered in applying the findings in practice.
Despite that, the accumulated discoveries made in research with a non-probabilistic sampling method should not be disregarded entirely since they can provide critical information about unrepresentative populations.
Schutt, R. K. & Bachman, R. (2010). The Practice of Research in Criminology and Criminal Justice. SAGE Publications.