How to Report a Sample Size

A large sample size produces an accurate reading of the population you are studying.
••• Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images

When conducting a study and reporting results, sample size, or the number of participants in a study, plays a key role in defining the validity and applicability of a study's results. Often, the larger the sample size, the more applicable the results in a real world setting. When reporting your results, presenting sample size is a very basic step in the overall study.

    Report sample size along alongside an italicized "n"; this is the statistical abbreviation for sample size. Therefore, n = 120 means your sample size, or number of participants, was 120.

    Outside of just reporting your sample size, you may also wish to explain how you obtained your sample, whether through random sampling or convenience sampling. This information will have an impact on how your data is viewed.

    Discuss the population from which your sample was taken. If you only selected students for your sample, mention that information.


    • An italicized "n" is a broadly-accepted variable; the American Psychological Association style for reporting sample size, and it is also used in chemistry, physics and mathematics. Although the larger the sample size the less the variability that could occur, a sample size can be too big and unwieldy depending on the study. (Consider that prior to an election, a straw poll does not sample 100% of voters.) Some professors or publications may require you to report standard error as well as your sample size. See the Resources below for more information on calculating standard error.

Related Articles

What Is the Meaning of Sample Size?
How to Find Standard Deviation on a TI 84 Plus
How to Determine Sample Size
How to Calculate a Sample Size Population
How to Interpret CogAT Scores
How to Estimate the True Proportion
How to Calculate Unexplained Variance
How to Determine a Sample Size Confidence Interval
Characteristics of Aquatic Plants
How to Calculate a P-Value
How to Interpret a Student's T-Test Results
How to Write Results for a Science Fair Project
How to Calculate a T-Score
How to Solve for Range
How to Do a Quantitative Research Questionnaire
The Advantages of a Large Sample Size
How to Calculate a Bell Curve
How to Calculate Relative Frequency Distribution
How to Tackle Environmental Problems
How to Figure Survey Percentages