Snowball Sampling

'Snowball or Chain Sampling is an option for locating information rich key informants and critical cases. The process begins by asking well situated people “Who knows a lot about ___?Whom should I talk to?” By asking a number of people who else to talk with, the snowball gets bigger and bigger as you accumulate new information-rich cases. 

In most programs or systems a few key names or incidents get mentioned repeatedly. Those people or events recommended as valuable by a number of different informants, take on special importance. The chain of recommended informants would typically diverge initially as many possible sources are recommended, then converge as a few key names get mentioned over and over again." (Patton 2002 p237)


Patton M Q, (2002) Qualitative Research and Evaluation Options (3rd ed.) Thousand Oaks, California. Sage Publications


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Updated: 14th January 2014 - 1:50am
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Research Assistant, RMIT University.


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