University Of Tasmania

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Purposive sampling: complex or simple? Research case examples

Background: Purposive sampling has a long developmental history and there are as many views that it is simple and straightforward as there are about its complexity. The reason for purposive sampling is the better matching of the sample to the aims and objectives of the research, thus improving the rigour of the study and trustworthiness of the data and results. Four aspects to this concept have previously been described: credibility, transferability, dependability and confirmability.

Aims: The aim of this paper is to outline the nature and intent of purposive sampling, presenting three different case studies as examples of its application in different contexts.

Results: Presenting individual case studies has highlighted how purposive sampling can be integrated into varying contexts dependent on study design. The sampling strategies clearly situate each study in terms of trustworthiness for data collection and analysis. The selected approach to purposive sampling used in each case aligns to the research methodology, aims and objectives, thus addressing each of the aspects of rigour.

Conclusions: Making explicit the approach used for participant sampling provides improved methodological rigour as judged by the four aspects of trustworthiness. The cases presented provide a guide for novice researchers of how rigour may be addressed in qualitative research.


Publication title

Journal of Research in Nursing










School of Nursing


Sage Publications Ltd.

Place of publication

United Kingdom

Rights statement

Copyright 2020 The Authors

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Other health not elsewhere classified