Sample size in qualitative research


  • Dr. Margarete Sandelowski PhD, RN

    Professor, Corresponding author
    1. Department of Women's and Children's Health, School of Nursing, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
    • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, #7460 Carrington Hall, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7460
    Search for more papers by this author


A common misconception about sampling in qualitative research is that numbers are unimportant in ensuring the adequacy of a sampling strategy. Yet, simple sizes may be too small to support claims of having achieved either informational redundancy or theoretical saturation, or too large to permit the deep, case-oriented analysis that is the raison-d'etre of qualitative inquiry. Determining adequate sample size in qualitative research is ultimately a matter of judgment and experience in evaluating the quality of the information collected against the uses to which it will be put, the particular research method and purposeful sampling strategy employed, and the research product intended. ©1995 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.