Original Research

Sacrifice is a step beyond convenience: A review of convenience sampling in psychological research in Africa

Salome E. Scholtz
SA Journal of Industrial Psychology | Vol 47 | a1837 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajip.v47i0.1837 | © 2021 Salome E. Scholtz | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 26 August 2020 | Published: 18 May 2021

About the author(s)

Salome E. Scholtz, WorkWell Research Unit, Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa

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Orientation: Articles from three African psychology journals were reviewed to indicate their use and reporting practices of convenience samples.

Research purpose: Method-relevant sections of empirical research reports (qualitative, quantitative, mixed method, etc.) were categorised to establish current method use and reporting practices as well as the methodological standards of convenience sampling in three African psychology journals from 2018 to mid-2020.

Motivation for the study: Convenience sampling is the most popularly used sampling method in psychology. However, little attention is paid to sampling composition and sampling methods in articles, which influences trustworthiness, generalisability and replication of results. Psychology is also experiencing criticism because of the lack of non-Western, educated, industrialised, rich and democratic (WEIRD) samples.

Research approach/design and method: A systematised review design was followed to purposively collect and categorise articles that used convenience samples as a sampling approach (n = 139) from the South African Journal of Industrial Psychology, the South African Journal of Psychology and the Journal of Psychology in Africa.

Main findings: General reporting practices included sample size, gender, country, sample source (e.g. university) and age. Other sample characteristics indicate that studies were primarily conducted with South Africans speaking Afrikaans or English. English was mainly used to collect data from primarily black (African) and white (Caucasian) racial groups. Participants were largely female from university or college. Some sample differences such as sample size were also noted between qualitative and quantitative research methods. African journals’ reporting practices of sample characteristics were found to include standards and frequencies similar to or higher than those of international journals.

Practical/managerial implications: Journals should pay attention to their role in influencing the reporting practices and standards of convenience samples and consider incorporating the presented categories.

Contribution/value-add: The use of convenience sampling in African psychology journals is presented along with the potential of African research to provide non-WEIRD samples in psychology. Recommendations for improving the use of this sampling method are highlighted.


Africa; convenience sampling; external validity; psychology; research methodology; sampling; sample diversity; WEIRD samples


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