With respect to research design and statistical analysis, a population is the entire collection of entities one seeks to understand or, more formally, about which one seeks to draw an inference. Consequently, defining clearly the population of interest is a fundamental component of research design because the way in which the population is defined dictates the scope of the inferences resulting from the research effort.

When a population is small, it can be censused, meaning that the attribute of interest is measured for every member of the population and is therefore known with certainty. More often, however, a census is unrealistic because the population is not finite or because financial or logistical constraints override collection of complete information. In some cases, simply redefining the population ...

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