Ethics and sampling of CBPR

I will start my blog by talking about ethics in Community-based participatory research. In our case, we will be doing research in The Tiny Children’s Garden. Wait for a second if you haven’t heard about our garden yet. I encourage you to check out the link below to know more about our community garden.

As a part of our research question and Ms. Davis’ goal is to answer the question “How to secure fresh vegetables and fruits for the community at Washington Park in East St. Louis?”. And also, as a part of our Community-based participatory research, we will need to conduct a survey. I will talk about my personal experience in preparing my survey at the university. The first step is to have your research question ready and start writing the survey questions that you want to ask your target audience. In my case, I am doing research on the recycling behaviors of Saudi Arabian households. My target audience is females who are performing or responsible for recycling household-generated waste. The second step, a critical step, in my opinion, is to complete an institutional review board (IRBs) and prove that my survey will not harm my target audience. There are many stages in doing this step by answering IRBs questions such as, describing all the risks that can harm participants and how to minimize them. Questions include explaining how you are distributing the survey, ensuring the anonymity of your participants’ identities, and what measurement you will take to secure their personal information…etc.

One of IRB’s protocol requirements for ensuring that you have completed your participant’s research notification which is to make sure that participants agree to take your survey and letting them know of any harmful risks they might face. The third step is waiting for your desired number of participants to complete your survey and then starting to analyze your results. You might be wondering about Harm! What possible harms will I face answering a survey? According to Alan Bryman, “Harm can entail a number of facets: physical harm; harm to participants’ development; loss of self-esteem; stress; and ‘inducing subjects to perform reprehensible acts’, as Diener and Crandall (1978: 19)” (Bryman & Bell, 2019)

William Iven

So now, let’s assume we have our questions ready, and we got our IRBs protocol approved. We know our target audience, which we call the sample frame. The sample frame in our research is the Washington Park community. To make our survey realistic, we will need to select a smaller group from the sample frame. It will be hard to ask every person living in Washington Park. Our sample can be based on either probability or non-probability approaches. Probability sampling means selecting our sample randomly so that every participant in the population has the chance to participate, such as race, age, gender..etc. On the other hand, non-probability sampling is the opposite of probability sampling, which means choosing specific participants; for example, Hispanic females form the age of 18 to 50. (Bryman & Bell, 2019)


Now we know what type of sampling are we going to use. But how many participants should we ask?  Is it the more the participants, the more valuable our research is going to be?

In order to decide our sample size, we need to consider some factors such as sampling precision (the larger our sample is the less sampling errors we will face), accepted sampling error, our research variables, time and, cost. (Bryman & Bell, 2019)



Questions for consideration: 

  •  What are the ethical challenges we might face when conducting a survey in the Washington Park community garden?
  • What is the purpose of sampling the community at The Washington Park in East St. Louis?
  • Do you think that we need to do a probability or non-probability sampling? Explain why.
  • Do you think there is a specific target audience we need to focus on such as kids, moms, seniors?
  • From your experience in doing surveys, how have you dealt with your sampling errors?


Bryman, A., & Bell, E. (2019). Social research methods. Don Mills, Ontario, Canada: Oxford University Press.