Letter: Food research used fair sample

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The Independent Online
Food research used fair sample

Sir: Emily Green ("Korma karma", 5 December) refers disparagingly to the "grandly titled" Economic and Social Research Council; well, it is the major (government-funded) body which provides support for social-scientific research in this country.

She then criticises the size of the sample used in some research on food habits, comparing it with the size of a cinema preview audience, in apparent ignorance of the well-established mathematical logic of formal sampling, which means that a sample of that size - if, and only if, chosen in appropriate ways - can indeed give an adequate estimate of the numbers in the whole population from which it is drawn who have the characteristics on which data is collected.


Professor of Sociology

University of Sussex