Quality and Quantity

, Volume 33, Issue 2, pp 185–202 | Cite as

Sampling for Possibilities

  • Michael Wood
  • Richard Christy


This paper views empirical research as a search for illustrations of interesting possibilities which have occurred, and the exploration of the variety of such possibilities in a sample or universe. This leads to a definition of “illustrative inference” (in contrast to statistical inference), which, we argue, is of considerable importance in many fields of inquiry – ranging from market research and qualitative research in social science, to cosmology. Sometimes, it may be helpful to model illustrative inference quantitatively, so that the size of a sample can be linked to its power (for illustrating possibilities): we outline one model based on probability theory, and another based on a resampling technique.


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael Wood
    • 1
  • Richard Christy
    • 1
  1. 1.Portsmouth Business SchoolMiltonEngland, e-mail

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