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    Ibrahim Al-Jubari

    I am doing a research on entrepreneurial intention among university students. Any idea about the most appropriate procedure to determine the sample size?

    Thank you

    Dr Mike Lambert

    Ibrahim, you do not say where you are with your investigation, but in my experience this question can be asked too near the start of research planning.  To me, sample size is best determined in relation to the methodological framework as a whole. Until those ideas are reasonably developed, it is not feasible to consider properly the issues surrounding sample size.


    My suggestion is first to formulate a theoretical basis for the research, including what kind of outcomes one wishes to achieve (building of theory? confirmation of hypothesis? deeper understanding of the issue?).  Then work out the kind of investigative methods to employ – ideas about suitable sample sizes will then emerge.


    For beginner researchers, guidance on sampling is available in ‘A Beginner’s Guide to Doing Your Education Research Project’, pp.112-114:


    Ibrahim Al-Jubari

    Thank you Dr Lambert.

    I’m currently in the developing proposal stage. My goal is to investigate students intention. I wanted to determine the sample size and justify that number.

    Dr Mike Lambert

    Ibrahim, this situation sounds a little ‘chicken-and-egg’, as we say in England – what comes first?  Nevertheless I would still suggest you give further thought to the ‘goals’ or outcomes of your research.  For instance:


    –       Do you expect to end up with an overall view of student intentions, how many think this, how many think that?

    –       Do you expect to explore the nature of such intentions in greater detail?

    –       Do you expect to compare different groups, e.g. the intentions of older students with those of younger students, or the intentions of students on different courses?


    Also relevant are practical issues – how many students could you involve, given the resources and time-scale of your research?  How many do you expect might be willing to be involved?  The crucial question is finally this: How much data and how many participants will you need to answer your research questions?


    Thinking these through will help you make a reasonable (but provisional) estimate of sample size and justify what you decide. 

    Good luck



    Dear Ibrahim

    If the population is known, you can use confidence interval and confidence level for estimating the sample size.

    Plz click the following link. It will help you in estimating the required sample size.


    If the population is unknown, the sample size should be estimated based on the variance in the key variable. This can be estimated only after the pilot study.

    Ibrahim Al-Jubari

    Dr. Ramanathan,

    Thank you fpr your valuable input.

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