enquiries@rodlaird.co.uk »
Freephone 0800 612 0910
Freefax 0800 612 0920
Now taking bookings
Bookmark and Share

Flow sampling: an essential way to learn what people think of your service at the very best time - just after they use it (13 Feb 17)

This step by step guide shows how to gather the views of people when they visit your offices

An essential pre-condition of obtaining reliable information from surveys is to select a properly representative sample of the survey population or the group of people who are about to be studied.

The most reliable way of doing this is by drawing a random (or probability) sample. Here every member of the survey population has an equal chance of being selected to take part in a study. This way there would be no built in bias, which would make it more likely that some people would be selected than others.

But what happens when you want to survey people as they visit an area office or at the point at which they receive a service? Here you don’t have the luxury of being able to select every nth person on a list.

You could leave out cards on counters to be filled in, or hand out questionnaires whenever staff have time to spare, but these approaches will not usually result in reliable results.

The solution is to choose an appropriate sample of the flow of people using a service during a given period of time e.g. every tenth visitor to an office over the period of one month.

However, there are several problems associated with flow sampling:

Variations in the flow of visitors over time
The sample must be drawn over a period which takes into account variations in the number and type of user of a service e.g. some local offices may be much busier on some days than others or different kinds of people may visit at different times. It is also important to avoid untypical weeks such as public holiday periods.

The best way to deal with this is to

Like to read more or make a comment? Log in or register below

Why not join the discussion!

Or even better still offer your own advice and tell us about things that others can learn from.

We moderate comments lightly so bear with us and we'll get your thoughts listed as soon as we can.

You must be logged in to post comments.

Not registered yet? Simply fill in the box below.

Forgotten your password?

Like to have access to this and hundreds of other articles like it? Register now!

Just pop your details in the form below, and you'll have full access to our library as well as receiving the free articles you have requested.

Research and evaluation
Resident involvement
Community involvement
Patient involvement
Communications & marketing
Equality and diversity
Community safety
All of these
Your work email

Already subscribed? Want to manage your account? »

Log in


Register now to benefit from hundreds of free hints, tips, articles and interviews

Your email address:

Contact us»

Latest Twitter updates

Other articles you might like:

A beginners guide to calculating sampling error

A beginners guide to confidence levels

ANOTHER task in sampling!

Answers to the sampling task

Can we have faith in the numbers? Issues in survey sampling

Flow sampling – Here’s something for you to think about

Flow sampling: an essential way to learn what people think of your service at the very best time - just after they use it

Simple techniques to help you obtain a reliable sample

Size is not everything

The absolute essentials of survey sampling

Well, is size everything?

Weighting to correct for non-response

Why persistence can give you less bias and more objectivity