Research is highly unpredictable when it comes to the aspect of time frame. It can take anything from a few minutes to years, or even a decade. When research goes on for an extended period, it’s most likely that the researcher is conducting longitudinal research. You might’ve heard this word for the very first time.
But it’s a kind of research, and it’s in use in many fields of study. You don’t need to worry if you don’t know anything about it. Because today’s article is all about this research. This article will consist of the types, strategies to follow, and a small portion on both pros and cons for it.
What is Longitudinal Research?
In longitudinal research, researchers repeatedly examine the same variable. It is sometimes also called observational research. Researchers observe the object under study over a more extended period to detect any changes. There is no influence of the researcher on the variables. Thus, observation of the objects is the only thing that researchers do.
This research also has some types. A brief description of all the types is given by experts of PhD dissertation writing services as follows;
This is a particular design of longitudinal research. In panel studies, investigators examine samples over the same time panels. Most panel studies are designed for qualitative data analysis and follow a structured survey. These studies can also use quantitative data collection methods.
Cohort studies are performed on groups of people over an extended period. The word “cohort” means a particular group of people. Researchers use a large grouping of people for conducting the study, and to examine them for several years. The researchers also make classes of groups based on some factors. These elements can be that of age, geographical location, or birth year.
For example, a group of researchers want to study the effects of COVID-19 in education. They will make groups of people. There will be separate windows for school, college, and university students in this domain. Hence, it is a cohort that the investigators will examine for a period.
A retrospective study is a special case of a cohort study. The window of research in this research is history. Basically, this research studies the data recorded for reasons other than research. A retrospective study is mostly done in the fields of medicine, and psychology.
Strategies to Conduct a Longitudinal Research
As longitudinal research is extensive research, going without planning will bring nothing. Therefore, researchers must follow some strategies to conduct it successfully. A brief description of all these steps is as follows;
1. Devising a long term plan
Devising a long term plan and building a collaborative team is the essential step within this context. The longitudinal research is time-consuming. It can take up to several years, or even a decade to complete. Therefore, there should not be the guys in your team who will leave you in the mid.
2. Developing a strong framework
After making a plan, developing the theoretical framework is also necessary. Every team member must recognise his/her duties based on that framework. The theoretical framework should also support the research questions. The longitudinal research aims to address the research questions. Thus, the framework should be based on the following research questions.
3. Design a comprehensive study
The following strategy is designing a comprehensive study. Remember, designing is not conducting research. The study’s design should map to aims of the research. If the study is international, all the researchers must agree, and design a comprehensive study plan keeping in view the objectives.
4. Make sample plan
After devising the study plan, it is now time to make a sample plan. You have to observe the same sample for multiple intervals of time. Thus, it is imperative to give proper attention when deciding on sample size, and number. The sample plan also includes a recruitment strategy. Sometimes, the researchers need to recruit people to perform the study as well.
5. Develop protocols of the study
Developing protocols of the study holds enormous significance. This is because researchers have to observe the study sample for a very long period. Thus, it is not advisable to conduct research without the prior development of plans on protocols. The researcher must prepare guidelines that encompass the whole study plan, and limits.
6. Develop data collection procedures
At this stage, the researcher has to develop data collection procedures. The most common practice is collecting data through survey questionnaires. For this, researchers establish structured survey questions and collect the responses of respondents. But as said earlier, in the field of biology, quantitative techniques for data collection can also be used.
7. Collect the data
After doing all the planning listed above, it is now time to collect the data. Researchers now start observing the sample and gather the data at regular intervals. If the procedure is quantitative, the researcher will commence proper experimentation on the sample, and note down the results. In the case of qualitative research, it is time to collect all participants’ responses.
8. Commence the data scoring
Data scoring means diving the data into different categories for later use. There is so much data in longitudinal research that it will be hard for the researchers to analyse it at once. Therefore, along with the collection of data, data scoring is also done side-by-side.
9. Thorough communication
Thorough communication of the data and other things is also necessary if the research is international. A foreign funding agency might be funding the research. In such cases, researchers should adequately communicate all findings to all the partners. Thorough communication will allow the finding agencies to take necessary actions, and make decisions.
The steps mentioned above will allow a researcher to conduct successful longitudinal research. Remember, the plans and data collection procedures may differ based on the research type. I hope this article has helped you a lot in learning insights into longitudinal research. From the discussion above, I can only say that a researcher must pay proper attention to ensuring success in this domain.
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