What is 'Systematic Sampling'
Systematic sampling is a type of probability sampling method in which sample members from a larger population are selected according to a random starting point and a fixed, periodic interval. This interval, called the sampling interval, is calculated by dividing the population size by the desired sample size. Despite the sample population being selected in advance, systematic sampling is still thought of as being random, provided the periodic interval is determined beforehand and the starting point is random.
BREAKING DOWN 'Systematic Sampling'
Because simply random sampling can be inefficient and timeconsuming, statisticians turn to other methods, such as systematic sampling. Choosing a sample size through a systematic approach can be done quickly. For example, if you wanted to select a random group of 1,000 people from a population of 50,000 using systematic sampling, you would simply select every 50th person, since 50,000/1,000 = 50.
One risk that statisticians must take into account when conducting systematic sampling involves how the list used with the sampling interval is organized. If the population placed on the list is organized in a cyclical pattern that matches the sampling interval, the selected sample may be biased. For example, a companyâ€™s human resources department wants to pick a sample of employees and ask how they feel about company policies. Employees are grouped in teams of 20, with each team headed by a manager. If the list used to pick the sample size is organized with teams clustered together, the statistician risks picking only managers (or no managers at all) depending on the sampling interval.

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What is the difference between systematic sampling and cluster sampling?
Learn about the differences between systematic sampling and cluster sampling, including how the samples are created for each ... Read Answer >> 
When is it better to use systematic over simple random sampling?
Learn when systematic sampling is better than simple random sampling, such as in the absence of data patterns and when there ... Read Answer >> 
What are the advantages and disadvantages of using systematic sampling?
Learn about the primary advantages and disadvantages of using a systematic sampling method when conducting research of a ... Read Answer >> 
How can a representative sample lead to sampling bias?
Learn how using representative samples alone is not enough to make sampling bias negligible and why elements such as randomization ... Read Answer >> 
What's the difference between a representative sample and a random sample?
Explore the differences between representative samples and random samples, and discover how they are often used in tandem ... Read Answer >> 
What are the best selection methods for creating a simple random sample?
Discover some of the methods that researchers and pollsters utilize to select a simple random sample from a population group ... Read Answer >>