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Concept of Saturation Using a Qualitative Study

In a qualitative research, a number of factors will influence the sample size. However, the principle guide should be the saturation concept. This is a concept that is always explored by researchers and authors (Guest, Bruce, & Johnson, 2006). Results from researches have suggested an intended approach. This approach is not in full congruent with principles associated with qualitative research.

Samples used in qualitative studies are smaller compared to those used in quantitative studies. Ritchie, Elam and Lewis (2003) have a rationale for this. There is always a point of diminishing return to any qualitative sample. As the study proceeds, collecting more data does not translate to getting more information or results. This, because the occurrence of a data once is the only condition required it to become part of a framework for analysis. In a qualitative research, frequency is not always important. This is because; meaning and not generalized hypothesis is the concern of a qualitative research. (O’Reilly & Parker, 2011). Qualitative research is also labor intensive. The process of analyzing large samples is impractical and time consuming.

Saturation determines most of the qualitative sample sizes. Qualitative researchers will continue with the process of data collection up to a point of data saturation. Data collected in qualitative research is at times termed as ‘soft’. In a qualitative research reports, saturation at times can be referred to without its definition. In most qualitative researches, saturation has to be described as a method and all procedures that contributed to its achieving (Bowen, 2008).

This concept of saturation started gaining a lot of attention sometime early 21st century. It tries to explain the techniques researchers use in practice. Such techniques will come up with evidence for ‘theoretical saturation’ in a research that is qualitative in nature.