Within the context of survey research, an element is the basic unit that represents whatever is being sampled and from which survey data are to be gathered. Thus, the elements used in different surveys will depend on the purpose of the survey and may be adults, children, households, employees, businesses, students, teachers, schools, school districts, uniformed personnel, civilian personnel, police districts, libraries, books within libraries, pages within books, or many other things.

Within a target population, all the members of that population are its elements. Within a sampling frame, all the elements from the target population that can be listed constitute the frame. All the elements that are selected for study from the sampling frame make up what is commonly called “the survey sample.” However, all ...

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