The target population refers to the whole group that the research is interested in applying its conclusions. For instance, in a research about serial killers, the target population may be American serial killers.

The study population refers to the group or individuals to which the researcher can legitimately apply research conclusions. This population arises from the fact that the target population cannot always be reached in its totality and, thus, the researcher studies only part of the population that is available. In the researching serial killers, the study population may be the convicted serial killers in California State Prison, Corcoran.

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This refers to the source material from which the sample is drawn. This may be a listing of all the individuals that can be sampled in the study population. In the case of the research on serial killers, the sampling frame may be the list of the 500 convicted serial killers in California state prison, Corcoran.

Sample Elements

This refers to “that unit about which information is collected and that provides the basis of analysis” (Maxfield & Babbie, 2011). In the research about serial killers, the sample elements are the 500 convicted serial killers in California State Prison, Corcoran.

This refers to either probability or non-probability sampling. Non-probability sampling is not based on chance but factors like availability, a researcher's personal judgment, convenience and so on. Non-probability sampling is prone to bias. In addition, if not done carefully, the data obtained may be unrepresentative of the target population. On the other hand, in probability sampling, all individuals in the study population have the same opportunity of being part of the sample. In this sampling, it is possible to calculate the mathematical probability that any of the individuals will be selected. In probability sampling, every individual has a known and nonzero probability of being part of the sample. This sampling enables representation of large populations using small subsets of the populations. Because of the above mentioned advantages, the research on serial killers will use probability sampling. Specifically, it will use simple random sampling. The researcher will use a computer program (STATA software) to generate random members of the sample frame that will comprise the sample size.

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