I'm doing a bit of research on the exchange experiences of international students for my supervisor.

I came across an article in the Journal of Education for Business that is relevant to my topic: 'Confronting Diversity Issues in the Classroom with Strategies to Improve Satisfaction and Retention of International Students.' The authors conducted surveys of Business faculty and international students, and they ran some focus groups. Here's the thing, there's no indication of the sample size in the methods or results (or anywhere so I don't know whether they surveyed 10 professors or 100. The survey results are all given as percentages so there's no way to infer the scope of the study.

I am skeptical, but they were also published in a scholarly journal, so they must have passed peer review right? The information is good so if I could, I'd like to use it.

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    Sounds very sketchy to me. I don't think I've ever seen article where the sample size was not ever stated. And I've seen articles where people were unashamed to admit sample sizes in the single digits. – Daniel R. Collins May 27 '16 at 15:13
  • Yes, I've also seen similarly underwhelming sample sizes stated clearly in exploratory studies and the like. I think I'm going to pass over it for now, but it leaves me wondering, how did this get published in the first place? The article is a little bit on the older side (96), would that potentially be a factor? – an_object May 27 '16 at 15:18
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    "but they were also published in a scholarly journal, so they must have passed peer review right?" - Peer review does not guarantee correctness, or usefulness, or anything, really. – ff524 May 27 '16 at 15:44
  • Also, unless your research on "exchange experiences of international students" is about the history of exchange experiences of international students, I don't think this article is very useful to you. Experiences of international students have changed quite a lot in the last 20 years... – ff524 May 27 '16 at 15:45
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    @an_object The actual data in the article seems irrelevant regardless of the sample size because it is so dated. If you like the recommendations, you can still use them without using the survey data (using the same caution with which you might treat any other recommendations that aren't necessarily supported by strong evidence, but that seem logical). – ff524 May 27 '16 at 15:57

Why don't you write the corresponding author and ask them what the sample size was. You can always cite the sample size, if you decide to use the study, as a personal communication.

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    That sounds like a good idea, unfortunately the authors' contact information is absent from the document I have. I may do a little hunting online later. But in the mean time I will also follow ff524's suggestion of citing their recommendations without their data, if I can find some corroborating evidence elsewhere. Thank you! – an_object May 27 '16 at 16:23

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