Differences and Similarities Between Census and Sampling Method

There are many useful methods to collect data for your study. Sampling and census methods are two famous methods used to collect data. The key difference between the census and survey method is that the census collects data from every unit of the whole population. In contrast, the sampling method gathers data from a set of certain population. It is important to properly understand these methods’ differences to use them appropriately in a study to get the best results. This article has detailed the key differences between census and sampling methods.


One way to understand the key differences and similarities between the census and sampling method is through definition.

Census Method:

Census is the method of collecting, recording and observing the data related to the people from the population. In this, you count the whole universe. This means that every unit in the universe is counted during the process of data collection. By universe here, it means any particular area such as a country or city with a certain number of people through which you will collect data for your study.

In this method, you enumerate the population by considering the whole. Thus, this technique needs huge labour, time and finance to collect information for a study. This technique can be beneficial in finding the ratios such as the ratio of individuals who vote during the election to those who do not, the ratio of educated people to uneducated people, the ratio of females to males, etc.

Sampling Method:

The sampling method of collecting data in which a section of a certain population is selected to represent the features of a larger group. This method is widely used in statistical analysis where you cannot consider all people or members because of the large population.

The findings of statistical analysis are based on the observation of the sample. Therefore, it is crucial to select an appropriate representation of a sample. Thus, you should select a sample that can represent the whole population instead of a section of it. Your findings will be based on the entire universe with the help of the data collected from representative samples. Hiring a dissertation writing service UK can be also beneficial for this.


  • Both sampling and census method is used to collect data from a population to do a study for a particular research topic.
  • Both of these methods collect and record data systematically.
  • Both of these methods are widely common among academic researchers.
  • They both are used to represent a certain population for a particular study.
  • Both methods can help you reduce the overall research cost and time.
  • With the help of these methods, you can get more accurate results for your study.
  • Both census and sampling methods aim to offer convenience in gathering information
  • Through these methods, you can collect both intensive and exhaustive methods.
  • Both are practical methods.

Difference between Census and Sampling method:


Census usually involves collecting data about a population from the whole universe. On the other hand, the sampling method collects information from the sample representing the whole population.


Another difference between census and sampling methods is the difference in reliability. You get more accurate data from the census method. However, the margin of error is high in the sampling method. The accuracy of findings in research depends on the size of a sample. The probability of errors is very low if the sample size is large. In the case of small sample size, the chances are errors are high. That is why; the census gives more accurate results because it considers all the units from the entire population.

Time Needed:

These two methods take different times to complete. The sampling method takes very less time compared to the census.


Census and sampling method is also different based on cost. The sampling method is less expensive than the census method. You need a high amount of investment in the census because you must properly collect and research all the population units.


By sampling, you can conveniently collect information about the selected population. On the other hand, the census method is not convenient because you have to put a lot of effort into collecting data.


Another difference between census and sampling method is that census is referred to as the complete enumeration method of survey. While sampling is considered a partial enumeration method of survey.

Units of Population:

You research every unit of the entire population in the census method. In contrast, you only select some units from the population for your research.

Type of Population:

If the selected population for research is heterogeneous, then census is the best choice to collect data. On the other hand, the sampling method is best suited for a homogeneous population.

A Chart To Show The Difference Between Census And Sampling Methods:

BASIS FOR the COMPARISON CENSUS survEy method SAMPLING survey method
Definition A systematic technique to collect data related to all the population units is referred to as a census. It means collecting data from a population section to represent the entire population’s characteristics.
Enumeration It is a Complete enumeration It is Partial enumeration.
Population Every unit of the entire population. Some units of the entire population.
Time needed It takes a lot of time It takes less time
Cost Costly  method Economical method
Results More Reliable and accurate Less accurate and accurate because of the high margin of error during data collection.
Error Less error It depends on the size of the population
Appropriate for Heterogeneous nature population Homogeneous nature population


After knowing the key difference between census and sampling methods, it would be pertinent to discuss which method is better for collecting data for academic research.

Benefits of the Census Method:

Census gives you a detailed study of a population. Data is much more reliable as the researcher analyses each unit individually. It is the best choice for a population which is homogeneous nature.

Advantages of Sampling Method:

It costs less and takes less time. Furthermore, getting detailed information about a population is more practical and easier.


With this article’s help, you can easily see the differences between census and sampling methods. This can help you select the appropriate method for sample collection for a study. Remember all the key differences mentioned above before choosing any data collection method for your research.

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