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Drawing up a sample is an essential step in undertaking most types of survey research. Information gathered from a sample can be used to draw inferences about the whole population being studied, and the more representative a sample is, the more accurate inferences based on it are likely to be.

Part of Oxfam’s Research Guidelines series, this guideline provides a concise and easy-to-understand introduction to survey sampling. It explains the key steps in the sampling process, and describes the different kinds of samples and their various advantages and disadvantages. The guideline also outlines the variables that typically determine sample size, and provides links to further resources for readers who want to learn more. This guide was originally written in 2016 and was updated in 2019.

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