About longitudinal research
- The study of a group of people over an extended period of time.
- Sometimes known as panel studies
- Often data is collected periodically (eg every few months/years)
- Longitudinal research can use a wide range of methods ; focus groups, group interviews etc
- Most common method is queestionnaires
- Longitudinal research may use secondary sources.
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- Allows the researcher to look at processes over time.
- Does not require participants to recall information retrospectively, therefore the data may be more valid than conventional research.
- Invaluable for studting topics that look at long term changes.
- Can have a large sample group.
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- Requires a long term commitment
- Tends to be expensive because of extended time period.
- Once the research has been started, it is not possible to collect retrospective information
- Sample size may decrease as people drop out, disappear etc so sample may not be representative (eg there could be a decrease in ethnic groups)
- Sample attrition (losing particants) - national child development study lost a third of it's sample.
- Lots of data = lots of time.
- Difficult to keep track of participants (they may move etc)
- The fact that people are taking part in a research project might make them think more about their behaviour and therefore influence the outcome of the research making it less valid.
- There are not many longitudinal studies as they are so time consuming and expensive.
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Longitudinal study example
- J.W.B Douglas conducted a longitudinal study - followed careers of over 5000 children through the educational system. Found that working class parents showed less interest in their childs education than middle class parents. Working class parents visited school less often to discuss their childs progress and were less keen than the middle class for their children to stay on in further education. Douglas also found that working class parents gave their children less attention and stimulation during their early years. He therefore believed that differences in primary socialisation between social classes explained the relative educational failure of the working class.
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