# Sample Size Essay

Determining Sample Size1

Glenn D. Israel2

Perhaps the most frequently asked question concerning sampling is, "What size sample do I need?" The answer to this question is influenced by a number of factors, including the purpose of the study, population size, the risk of selecting a "bad" sample, and the allowable sampling error. Interested readers may obtain a more detailed discussion of the purpose of the study and population size in Sampling The Evidence Of Extension Program Impact, PEOD-5 (Israel, 1992). This paper reviews criteria for specifying a sample size and presents several strategies for determining the sample size.

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Using A Sample Size Of A Similar Study

Another approach is to use the same sample size as those of studies similar to the one you plan. Without reviewing the procedures employed in these studies you may run the risk of repeating errors that were made in determining the sample size for another study. However, a review of the literature in your discipline can provide guidance about "typical" sample sizes which are used.

Using Published Tables

A third way to determine sample size is to rely on published tables which provide the sample size for a given set of criteria. Table 1 and Table 2 present sample sizes that would be necessary for given combinations of precision, confidence levels, and variability. Please note two things. First, these sample sizes reflect the number of obtained responses, and not necessarily the number of surveys mailed or interviews planned (this number is often increased to compensate for nonresponse). Second, the sample sizes in Table 2 presume that the attributes being measured are distributed