The target population usually has varying characteristics and it is also known as the theoretical population. The accessible population is the population in research to which the researchers can apply their conclusions. This population is a subset of the target population and is also known as the study population Basically, target population (also known as theoretical population) is the group to whom we wish to generalize our findings. Study population (also known as accessible population) is the actual sampling frame, from which we randomly drew our sample. This is the group to whom we actually can generalize our findings because we sampled from them. Having said these, for safety I would recommend checking the glossary and definition of the text to make sure the authors really do use the same system.
The target population is the population you are interested in your study; Study population is a subpopulation that you are taking from the target population for doing your study. The theoretical population is the same as the target population, which is the population you want your study to be generalized to. Or example, you want to do a study: the average height of all men between age 20 to 30 in Canada, then the target and theoretical population are all men between age 20 to 30, and your study population would say all men between age 20 to 30 in Ontario.
Target Versus Accessible Population in Qualitative Enquiry
The general population is characteristically crude in the sense that it often contains participants whose inclusion in the study would violate the research goal, assumptions, and/or context. Concerning our scenario, members of the general population are health workers in all healthcare institutions in Jackson. Thus, every employee in these institutions who directly or indirectly contributes to healthcare delivery is a health worker and is, therefore, a member of the general population. By one of our research contexts, however, not every health worker can participate in the study. This context has to do with the need for EI to be measured as a cognitive skill deployed by health workers when interacting with patients, co-workers, bosses and other stakeholders this is the only perspective from which EI can be assessed. In other words, EI must be sufficiently used by health workers in facilitating the development of the positive interpersonal relationship with patients and colleagues daily to set the basis for its assessment.
It is nevertheless unfortunate that not all health workers have the opportunity of interacting with patients and other stakeholders in healthcare institutions. Cleaners, security personnel, and some administrative workers (e.g., clerks who hardly communicate with patients and other workers) are examples. Though they are health workers, their inclusion in the study population violates one of our main research contexts and assumptions, and may badly affect the research outcome. We, therefore, need to refine the general population by eliminating individual employees belonging to such categories.
Refinement of the general population is necessary for many instances like ours, and it would be executed by taking all individuals (i.e., from the general population) whose involvement in the study violates the research goal, assumption or context. The part of the general population left after its refinement is termed target population, which is defined as the group of individuals or participants with the specific attributes of interest and relevance (Bartlett et al., 2001; Creswell, 2003). The target population is more refined as compared to the general population based on containing no attribute that controverts a research assumption, context or goal.
For a large study population, applying a set of criteria to select participants without specifying the target and accessible populations may result in the oversight of the most eligible and convenient participant group and may not allow the qualitative researcher to reach “the most appropriate” sample. It is therefore advisable for the researcher to think of what should be the selection criteria for determining each of the target and accessible populations after specifying the general population. As indicated earlier, therefore, the specification of the target and accessible populations is necessary if the study population is large.