A sampling frame is a list or database from which a sample can be used. In market research terms, a sampling frame is a database of potential respondents that can be drawn from to invite to take part in a given research project. This could be sample for quantitative and/or qualitative research including, but not limited to, qualitative telephone interviews, CATI, online surveys and focus groups. These databases could come from a variety of sources including customer lists, government registers and purchased telephone numbers and/or email addresses.
A sampling frame generally includes the respondents’ names and appropriate contact details (so that they can be contacted to take part in the research), but may also include other significant known information that may be drawn upon in the analysis stage of the research such as age, location or customer segmentation data. This information is often stored in an Excel spreadsheet, or similar document.
Sampling frames need sense checking as large databases can often contain mistakes, depending on the sample source - this could be out of date information, such as employees or customers who have left, or duplicate data entries.
Sampling frames can be provided to a market research company for a specific project by the end client, but they can also be obtained from other sources, including, but not limited to, third party sample companies (including online panels, telephone and email lists).
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