Longitudinal Research, Panel Study
Cross-sectional research is research which makes observations at only one period
in time. Examples include conducting a survey or opinion poll. Cross-sectional research is
analogous to taking one still picture of the population or group being investigated.
Longitudinal research, on the other hand, makes more than one set of observations and can
be compared to a simple moving picture.
In cross-sectional research, data are collected from the research participants at
a single point in time or during a single, relatively brief time period (i.e., a period
long enough to collect data from all of the participants selected to be in the study). The
data are typically collected from multiple groups or types of people in cross-sectional
research. For example, data in a cross-sectional study might be collected from males and
females, from people in different socioeconomic classes, from multiple age groups, and
from people with different abilities and accomplishments.
The major advantage of cross-sectional research is that data can be collected on
many different kinds of people in a relatively short period of time. Cross-sectional
research has several weaknesses. One disadvantage is that it is difficult to establish
time order (condition 2 of the necessary conditions for causality). If you collect data
from research participants at a single time point only, you cant directly measure
changes that are occurring in them over time.
Time order can be partially established in cross-sectional research through
theory, through past research findings, and through an understanding of the independent
variable (e.g., you can safely assume that an adults biological sex occurs before
the amount of education they have because biological sex is set at birth). These
techniques for establishing time order are weaker than actually observing people over
time. A related disadvantage is that the study of developmental trends (changes in people
as they get older) can be misleading when using cross-sectional data.
The Internet and Social Participation: Contrasting Cross-Sectional and
Longitudinal Analyses - Irina Shklovski, Robert Kraut, Carnegie Mellon
Lee Rainie, Pew Internet & American Life Project
Full Text: jcmc.indiana.edu/vol10/issue1/shklovski_kraut.html
Abstract: The Internet opens new options for communication and may change the extent to
which people use older communication media. Changes in the way people communicate are
important, because communication is the mechanism people use to develop and maintain
social relationships, so valuable for their physical and mental health. This paper uses
data from a national panel survey conducted in 2000 and 2001 to examine the influence of
Internet use on communication and on social involvement. In doing so, it contrasts the
conclusions one can draw from cross-sectional and longitudinal data on these issues.
Longitudinal analyses provide stronger evidence of the causal effects of using the
Internet than do the cross-sectional ones. The longitudinal data show that heavy use of
the Internet is associated with reductions in the likelihood of visiting family or friends
on a randomly selected day. Cross-sectional analyses show high correlations between the
frequency with which respondents communicate with specific family members by visits, phone
calls and email, suggesting that communication in one medium stimulates the others. In
contrast, longitudinal analyses suggest that the links between communication media are
asymmetric: visits drive more email communication and phone calls drive more visits, but
email drives neither phone calls nor visits.
Longitudinal studies measure
relationships between variables over a period of time. Involving information about
an individual or group at different times throughout a long period.
One might follow a group of
males from birth to age 30 to measure their involvement with the criminal justice system
over time and relate this information to their parents' socio-economic status.
A series of cross-sectional
investigations taken over time will provide a longitudinal study.
Recent developments in
analytical methods and in data collection activities, including the growing number of
longitudinal data sets in Canada and worldwide, have allowed for the increased reliance on
powerful longitudinal approaches by research projects.
The Centre for Longitudinal
Studies - Following lives from birth and through the adult years. - (CLS) is an ESRC
Resource Centre based at the Institution of Education. - cls.ioe.ac.uk
Longitudinal studies of effects of divorce on children in
Great Britain and the United States - AJ Cherlin, FF Furstenberg Jr, L
Chase-Lansdale, KE Kiernan, PK Robins, DR Morrison, and JO Teitler - Department of
Sociology, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore
National, longitudinal surveys from Great Britain and the United States were used to
investigate the effects of divorce on children. In both studies, a subsample of children
who were in two-parent families during the initial interview (at age 7 in the British data
and at ages 7 to 11 in the U.S. data) were followed through the next interview (at age 11
and ages 11 to 16, respectively). At both time points in the British data, parents and
teachers independently rated the children's behavior problems, and the children were given
reading and mathematics achievement tests. At both time points in the U.S. data, parents
rated the children's behavior problems. Children whose parents divorced or separated
between the two time points were compared to children whose families remained intact. For
boys, the apparent effect of separation or divorce on behavior problems and achievement at
the later time point was sharply reduced by considering behavior problems, achievement
levels, and family difficulties that were present at the earlier time point, before any of
the families had broken up. For girls, the reduction in the apparent effect of divorce
occurred to a lesser but still noticeable extent once preexisting conditions were
considered. - sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/252/5011/1386
Legacies and Lessons: Insights from Longitudinal Studies of Educated Women.
Abstract: Postmodern, multicultural, and feminist critiques of psychology have changed how
longitudinal researchers construct their inquiries and frame their data. Also the new
scholarship brings to the longitudinal investigation perspectives from other disciplines
including sociology, anthropology, and history, among others. The book used as a framework
for this discussion, "Women's Lives Through Time," is an assembly of different
studies, thus providing perspective on the changing discipline of longitudinal research.
Many studies on women were out of print and there was an absence of interdisciplinary
dialogue about women's adult development. Some broad themes weaving together all the
studies are: (1) all of the women studied had attended college; (2) strong evidence
existed for increased well-being and feelings of competence in women as they mature; and
(3) all the women were affected by role socialization and gender discrimination. The
studies included in the book indicated that longitudinal methodologies have diversified
over the years. More subjective and context-sensitive methods were incorporated; some
caution needs to be taken to ensure that the research retains analysis of measurable data.
Another methodological challenge has to do with incorporating issues of socio-historical
context into lifespan research. Incorporating subjective and contextual material is the
wave of the future in life studies research. - eric.ed.gov
Longitudinal Studies of Attitude Change: Issues and Methods.
Abstract: This report makes available in condensed form the methods for performing
longitudinal studies of attitude change and the issues associated with these methods. It
represents a state-of-the-art review of such methods, and the material covered spans the
disciplines of psychology, sociology, and statistics. It is meant to provide a brief
description of the tools available, references to more detailed descriptions, and an
overview of the theoretical and practical issues involved in execution and interpretation
to those wishing to employ longitudinal methodology. The report is divided into the
following four sections: (a) Longitudinal design and cross-sectional design are compared
in terms of relative advantages and disadvantages. (b) Theoretical issues associated with
studies done over time, such as the overcorrection/the overall variance, are discussed.
(c) Actual methods are described; this section is subdivided into (a) experimental
designs, (b) quasi-experimental designs, and (c) statistical techniques. This section also
includes references to actual studies in which these methods were employed. (d) Practical
considerations in doing longitudinal research are discussed. The major conclusion drawn in
the report is that while sophisticated methods are available for use, overall development
of the field is being hampered because work progresses independently in several
disciplines. - eric.ed.gov
Weatherall, R, H Joshi, S Macran. Double burden or double blessing - employment,
motherhood and mortality in the Longitudinal-Study of England and Wales. Social Science
& Medicine 1994; 38 (2): 285-297.
The OPCS Longitudinal Study has been used to follow up women who were married at the time
of the 1971 census, to see if their employment status and responsibility for children at
that time had any detectable consequence for their mortality up to 1985. Of particular
interest was whether the combination of employment and child rearing produced any signs of
role overload, or its opposite hypothesized effect, role enhancement. The results show
poorer health among those with neither employment nor children, but these effects did not
appear to interact. We suspect the data reveal health selection as much as health effects
of the roles taken separately. Whatever the stresses and strains of combining jobs and
child rearing, they do not appear drastic enough to result in early death.
How to handle informed consent in longitudinal studies when participants have a limited
understanding of the study
G Helgesson, The Centre for Bioethics at Karolinska Institutet and Uppsala University,
J Ludvigsson, The Division of Paediatrics at the Department of Molecular and Clinical
Medicine, Linköping University, Sweden
U Gustafsson Stolt, The Division of Paediatrics at the Department of Molecular and
Clinical Medicine, Linköping University, Sweden
PhD in philosophy, Researcher at the Centre for Bioethics at Karolinska Institutet and
Uppsala University, Sweden; Gert.Helgesson@bioethics.uu.se
Empirical findings from a Swedish longitudinal screening study show that many of the
research subjects had a limited understanding of the study. Nevertheless they were
satisfied with the understanding they had and found it sufficient for informed continued
participation. Were they wrong? In this paper, it is argued that the kind of understanding
that is morally required depends partly on the kind of understanding on which the research
subjects want to base their decisions, and partly on what kind of knowledge they lack.
Researchers must ensure that the information process is not flawed and that participants
receive the information they want. To achieve this, new information efforts may be needed.
Researchers must also ensure that research subjects have knowledge about aspects of
importance to them. Lack of understanding may, however, be the result of conscious choices
by research subjects to disregard some of the information because it is not important to
them. Such choices should normally be respected. -
Moser, K A, P O Goldblatt. Mortality of Women in the OPCS Longitudinal Study:
Differentials by Own Occupation and Household and Housing Characteristics. LS working
paper 26. 1985.
Moser, K A, P Goldblatt. Mortality of Women in Private and Non-private Households Using
Data from the OPCS Longitudinal Study. LS working paper 14. 1984.
Macran, S. Analysis of women's mortality using the OPCS Longitudinal Study. In: OPCS /
SSRU Longitudinal Study Newsletter No. 9 (November 1993). 1993. p. 4-7.
Lyons, M. Chaos or complexity? Casualisation, feminisation and gentrification in London,
1971-1991. In: Creeser, R, Gleave, S, editors. Migration Within England and Wales Using
the Longitudinal Study. ONS Series LS, No. 9. London: The Stationery Office; 2000. p.
Harrop, A, H Joshi. Death and the Saleswoman: an Investigation of Mortality and
Occupational Immobility of Women in the Longitudinal Study of England and Wales. LS
working paper 73. 1994.
Goldblatt, P O. Social Class Mortality Differentials of Men Aged 15-64 in 1981: a Note on
First Results from the OPCS Longitudinal Study for the period 1981-83. LS working paper
42. Updated version in Population Trends No 51. 1986.
Fox, A J, D R Jones. 1971-81 Male Socio-Demographic Mortality Differentials from the OPCS
Longitudinal Study. LS working paper 21. Shortened version published in Population Trends,
1985, 40: 10-16. Full version published in P O Goldblatt, Proceedings of the American
Statistical Association Meeting, August 13-16, 1984. 1984.
Fielding, A J, S Halford. A longitudinal and regional analysis of gender-specific social
and spatial mobilities in England and Wales, 1981-91. In: Boyle, P, Halfacre, K, editors.
Migration and Gender. London: Routledge; 1998.
Fielding, A J. Gender, class and region in England and Wales - a longitudinal analysis.
Ritsumeikan University Geographical Journal, Kyoto 1998; 10: 1-22.
Donkin, A. Does living alone damage men's health? Reports on an analysis of the
relationship between living alone and risk of death or limiting long-term illness for men
who were present in the Office for National Statistics Longitudinal Study (LS) in both
1971 and 1981. Health Statistics Quarterly 2001; 11 (Autumn 2001): 11-16.
Blackwell, L. Women and Science Teaching: the Demographic Squeeze. Report to the DTI.
mimeo. Centre for Longitudinal Studies; 2001