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Does sample size matter in qualitative IS studies?

    • Bryan Marshall, Georgia College
    • Peter W. Cardon, University of Southern California
    • Amit Poddar, Georgia College
    • Renee Fontenot, Georgia College


    This study examines 83 IS qualitative studies in leading IS journals for the following purposes: (a) identifying the extent to which IS qualitative studies employ best practices of justifying sample size; (b) identifying optimal ranges of interviews for various types of qualitative research; and (c) identifying the extent to which cultural factors (such as journal of publication, number of authors, world region) impact sample size of interviews. Little or no rigor for justifying sample size was shown for virtually all of the IS studies in this dataset. Furthermore, the number of interviews conducted for qualitative studies is correlated with cultural factors, implying the subjective nature of sample size in qualitative IS studies. Recommendations are provided for minimally acceptable practices of justifying sample size of interviews in qualitative IS studies.

    Keywords: qualitative methodology, qualitative interviews, data saturation, sample size

    APA Citation: Marshall, B., & Cardon, P. W., Poddar, A., Fontenot, R. (2013). Does sample size matter in qualitative IS studies? Journal of Computer Information Systems, 54(1), 11-22.