snowball sampling

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Related to Snowball sample: quota sample, Simple random sample

snowball sampling

a method of selecting a SAMPLE by starting with a small selected group of respondents and asking these for further contacts. This is not therefore a RANDOM SAMPLE and no inferences about the characteristics of the parent population can be made from such a study. Its use is primarily in the collection of in-depth, qualitative data, perhaps on sensitive topics, where an obvious SAMPLING FRAME does not exist and the best method of selection is through personal contacts. Such a method might be used in an investigation of sexual habits or bereavement experiences.
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"Methodological and Design Issues: Techniques for Assessing the Representatives of Snowball Samples" NIDA (National Institute on Drug Abuse).
The locator for the Somali immigrant group used her contacts within the Somali community and immigrant organisations to initiate various snowball samples. The study was publicised on Somali radio and TV programmes in Sweden.