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Inquiring Minds Want to Know Essay

This paper defines Penton Media’s sampling plan and research design for their study on if their reader service cards are still successful in getting buyer’s attentions. There are five questions that develop the sampling plan and Penton Media’s answers to these questions are described in this paper along with the strengths and weaknesses of their decisions. Their research design is also explained in the eight categories given. Finally, the strengths and weaknesses of their research design are given.

Case Assignment 2
Penton Media has designed a research study to determine if the reader service cards are still a sustainable form of bringing in customers. Penton Media came up with a sampling plan in order answer this research plan. Their sampling plan answered five questions and has both strengths and weaknesses. They also formulated a research design, which includes eight categories of options to answer their research question. Their research design also includes strengths and weaknesses, and these will be further examined in this paper.

Sampling Plan

According to Cooper and Schindler (2014), the sampling plan includes five questions. These questions include (p. 344): What is the target population?
What are the parameters of interest?
What is the sampling frame?
What is the appropriate sampling method?
What size sample is needed?
Once you have answered all these questions, you can determine the appropriate sampling design for your study. Penton Media has created their sampling plan from these questions.
The target population for Penton Media’s study is the people who read their business magazines. Their subscribers consist of 1.7 mission people in the US, so they originally tested out the survey via phone with a small selection of subscribers. They then sent out a second preliminary survey to 300 subscribers. From the first and second surveys, they construed a final survey and mailed it out to 4,000 of their business subscribers. From the total number of surveys sent out, they received 710 completed surveys.

The parameters of interest in this study include the readers who are actually buyers for their company. Penton Media only chose to use the surveys from subscribers actually doing purchasing activities, so this would be considered a non-probability based sampling study. According to the case study presented by Cooper and Schindler (2014), “The survey sample was constructed using stratified disproportionate random sampling with subscribers considered as belonging to one of 42 cells (seven industry groups by six job titles)”.


The strengths with Penton Media’s sampling plan include the parameters of interest and sampling frame. Their parameters of interest focus on the group of readers whose job is to buy for their company. Since this group of people directly match who they should be targeting, Penton Media is on the right track. Their sampling frame is also precise because it narrowed their list of people to send out the surveys to people working in the business fields as decision makers.


The weakness of this study is the sample size. Penton Media chose to only send out 4,000 surveys when they actually have 1.7 million readers. This size seems small since only a little over 17% of the surveyor’s returned the survey. Sample size should be a representation of the whole, and .04% of the population isn’t a great representation.

Research Design

Several options are available to researchers when deciding with their research design will be. They include exploratory or formal studies, type of data gathering, extent of control, purpose, time frame, scope, environment, and perception. A researcher should ponder these options before designing their study.

Penton Media was deliberate in their choices and based their answers to research design options on their research question. A formal study was designed to provide the answer to directly answer their research question. For data gathering, a communication study was used in the form of a survey. Ex post facto extent of control was used since Penton Media can’t change the results and have to report the results they receive. The purpose was chosen as a reporting study as they are compiling data and providing a summary of the survey results. This study’s time frame is cross-sectional with a survey being sent out once for the formal results. The topical scope is statistical because it wants to compare characteristics and draw conclusions. Field conditions were used in this study because there is no change in the surveyor’s environment. Finally, the participant’s perceptions are not changed and they are aware of the research being conducted.


The strength of this study is in the ex post facto design where Penton Media has to report from the survey results. There is no way that Penton Media can change or modify the results so this makes the research more reliable and dependable. Another strength is that the participant’s environment and perceptions aren’t changed or affected. This makes for more honest and trustworthy results.


A communication study is great for the research question that Penton Media is trying to answer. However, they could also get more data from their advertisers. Since many companies keep a record of how a customer finds out about their company, it would be worthwhile to also get statistics from them. This would complete the study and bring more results to complete the research question.


Penton Media has made some good decisions regarding their sampling plan and research design. They have answered the five questions to determine how they should set up their sample and made good decisions on target population, parameters of interest, sampling frame and method. However, they should have chosen a large sample size to represent the population. Penton Media also made good choices in their research design. Their choice of a formal, communication, reporting, statistical study with ex post factor design, cross-sectional time frame, field conditions and unchanged perceptions are key to their success. Sampling plan and research design are key and Penton Media certainly made good decisions for their study.

Cooper, Donald R. and Schindler, Pamela S. Business Research Methods. New York: Irwin/McGraw-Hill, 2014. Print.

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