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I need to know the advantages and disadvantages of using a sample or a population to collect data. I understand what a sample is and what a population is, but I do not know what the advantages and disadvantages would be. Can someone help?

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Population:

Advantages:

  1. No need for sampling! (The entire population is in your dataset)
  2. Your findings would be representative of the population (since your analyses are based on the population).

Disadvantages:

  1. To collect all of the information for a population it would likely take a great deal of time, which means more effort and money.

Sample:

Advantages:

  1. Usually the only option - it would be a rare scenario to have data on an ENTIRE population.
  2. You can make reliable estimates of the population with less time, effort, and money. (If the sample is representative of the population of interest)

Disadvantages:

  1. None, as long as the sample is representative of the population of interest. Otherwise, bias aplenty! And bias means that you will have some explaining to do!

As you can see, the advantages of the population are in regards to having all the information that you would ever want; however, sampling is usually the reality as a function of time, effort, and most importantly, money. By ensuring adequate sampling from the population of interest, a representative sample can be extracted to perform analyses and identify findings that one would uncover while looking at the entire population at a fraction of the cost.

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  • $\begingroup$ The disadvantages to using a population is just because the cost would be higher and it is very difficult to get 100% of your data. Where as for a sample you are able to get 100% of your data because you are only using a subset from the population? $\endgroup$ – Catherine Apr 17 '15 at 19:28
  • $\begingroup$ Correct! Once you have your sample, you have your data, and if it is representative, you can make sound inferences using that sample that can be utilized to better understand the population as a whole. $\endgroup$ – Matt Reichenbach Apr 17 '15 at 19:31
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    $\begingroup$ Thank you so much for answering my question I just want to recap here so the advantages for a population is that all your data would be right there. As long as you have the time and money. And the disadvantage would be costly and time consuming. Advantages of a sample is it is easier and more possible to collect the data by using a subset rather than the whole population and it is less costly. $\endgroup$ – Catherine Apr 17 '15 at 19:34
  • $\begingroup$ Exactly! Well learned! :) $\endgroup$ – Matt Reichenbach Apr 17 '15 at 19:35
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks :) I am not great in statistics well any type of math for that matter. So I really appreciate the help :) $\endgroup$ – Catherine Apr 17 '15 at 19:36

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