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Sampling Practices in Communication Studies: A Decade of Research in Four Top Journals

Background: The ability to draw accurate inferences from research depends heavily on the quality and representativeness of research samples. Research samples in the social sciences, including communication, are frequently criticized for being small and unrepresentative, yet there is substantial variation in sample characteristics. Objective: The objective of this project was to undertake a systematic examination of the characteristics of human samples used in communication research in major communication journals, in order to respond to the criticisms that such samples are small, underpowered, and lacking in external validity. Method: To ascertain the status of human samples in communication research, this project examined every empirical study published between 2010 and 2019 in four top communication journals—Communication Monographs, Communication Research, Human Communication Research, and Journal of Communication—that reported data from human subjects. The data set included 1,264 individual studies and a total sample size of 932,060 participants. Results and Conclusion: Sample sizes ranged from 10 to 57,847 participants, with an average of 740.12 participants, and were larger for non-experiments than experiments, quantitative than qualitative studies, and secondary than primary data analyses. Ninety-four countries were represented in the samples, although more than 70% of samples were recruited exclusively from the United States. Compared to U. S. demographics, such studies oversampled younger participants, female participants, and white participants.

Samples, Representativeness, Statistical Power

Kory Floyd, Nathan T. Woo, Jeannette Maré, Kaylin L. Duncan. (2023). Sampling Practices in Communication Studies: A Decade of Research in Four Top Journals. Communication and Linguistics Studies, 9(2), 27-41.

Copyright © 2023 Authors retain the copyright of this article.
This article is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License ( which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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