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Industrial and Organizational Psychology:  Perspectives on Science and Practice

An Inconvenient Truth: Arbitrary Distinctions Between Organizational, Mechanical Turk, and Other Convenience Samples
by Richard N. Landers and Tara S. Behrend


Volume 8  Issue 2

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Commentaries are due
December 19, 2014


Sampling strategy has critical implications for the validity of a researcher's conclusions.  Despite this, sampling is frequently neglected in research methods textbooks, during the research design process, and in the reporting of our journals.  The lack of guidance on this issue often leads reviewers and journal editors to reply upon simple rules of thumb, myth, and tradition to make judgments about sampling, which promotes the unnecessary and counterproductive characterization of sampling strategies as universally "good" or "bad."  Such oversimplification slows the progress of our science by considering legitimate data sources to be categorically unacceptable.  Instead, we argue that sampling is better understood in methodological terms of range restriction and omitted variables bias. This considered approach has far-reaching implications, because in I/O psychology, as in most social sciences, virtually all of our samples are convenience samples.  Organizational samples are not gold standard research sources; instead, they are merely a specific type of convenience sample with their own positive and negative implications for validity.  This fact does not condemn our science but instead highlights the need for more careful consideration of how and when a finding may generalize based upon the particular mix of validity-related affordances provided by each sample source that might be used to investigate a particular research question.  We call for researchers to explore such considerations cautiously and explicitly in both the publication and review of research.



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