A Multi-Group Analysis of Convenience Samples: Free, Cheap, Friendly, and Fancy Sources

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Convenience sampling dominates social science research. But there is a paucity of studies comparing the impact of sample source type based on composite-based theoretical model relationships. This study empirically tests four different sample sources (e.g. student, crowdsourced, professional panel, and respondent driven social network) to assess differences in construct measurement and structural models to determine how sample source can impact empirical results. Results show that in comparison to meta-analytic findings, there was no meaningful difference in either measurement or structural parameters between sample source groups. Further, results highlight the ability to pool the multiple sample sources into a single, more generalizable data set. We use the results to make a recommendation for data pooling from multiple sample sources after careful consideration of the population of interest. Insights from this study contribute to the debate on the impact sample sources have on empirical analyses of theoretical composites and their relationships.

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International Journal of Social Research Methodology

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