A longitudinal study is a study where researchers conduct various observations of the same subjects over a period of time. Sometimes it can last even for many years for the results to be found. The study is observational. Researchers do not interfere with their subjects.
Pros of Longitudinal Studies
- It can provide accurate results
Longitudinal studies are used for developmental trends and this can lead to more accurate results as compared to other methods of research. In the field of medicine, it is really used to discover the predictors and indicators of certain diseases.
- Highly flexible
The focus of the researchers can be shifted while the researchers are still collecting data hence it allows flexibility to have the desired results.
- It is more powerful
As compared to cross-sectional studies, it is more powerful in that it utilizes the observation method without necessarily manipulating the world. They use repeated observations at different levels.
- Very effective in developmental trends
The research is used in psychology to conduct research on developmental trends across life spans. The same individuals with the same characteristics are used hence easy to get the results based on the same individuals.
- They ensure clear focus and validity
It helps people to observe a certain set of circumstances up to the end. As it is natural for people to remember past events then this study is relevant as it makes them understand stage after the other.
- Effective in determining variable patterns over time
The study involves the use of data collection over a long period of time hence it can determine the patterns efficiently. This makes it possible for the researchers to determine causes and effects related to making connections in a clear manner.
- It can be used to establish a specific sequence of events
Some people may leave to the age of 100 years but some may not. This is because there are some underlying factors that contribute to that and through longitudinal studies, the factors may be studied and give rise to results.
- It does not manipulate the environment
Researchers collect data but they do not manipulate the environment to produce data. They study the data collection involving their five senses hence easy to get the results that are needed.
- It provides multiple forms of data collection
The same event witnessed by different people can be remembered differently and this form of study will collect all the data then make judgments from the data. They do not just base on one person’s information.
- Collection of data occurs in real-time
The study happens in real-time which means that the data being collected reflects “now”. This allows the researchers to expand on their study as they receive responses from each individual. It makes the researchers engage individuals often.
- It offers unique data
As it takes a long time, there is a possibility of the researchers offering unique data. It offers both short-term and long-term data of which the short-term data may be used to get the long-term data. The data cannot be the same as the other researches.
- It limits the number of mistakes that can be made
As the research takes a long time, the number of mistakes that can be made is limited and this may make the results to be accurate as the researchers keenly study the data collected before releasing the results.
Cons of Longitudinal Studies
- Variables being studied may disappear over time
As the study takes a long time, the variable being studied may disappear over time and this may make the results not to be found as the study was left mid-way.
- Inaccuracies when analyzing data collected
When hypothesis testing is done, there is a possibility of having inaccuracies when analyzing the results. When this occurs in a longitudinal study, the data collected is always underutilized.
- It is costly
A longitudinal study has a lot of expenses to meet and this makes it expensive to undertake. The researchers need to be paid well as they are the ones collecting data in order for them to go a step ahead and do a thorough study.
- Study participants may not offer the right information
The study involves the same participants over a long period of time and this can affect the data being collected. It may also influence how future data can be as the researchers may work on the assumption of the participants being honest with the data being given.
- It takes a long time
As it takes a long time, the researchers that begin the study may not be able to see the results as they may die before the end of the research. This may make the ones who continue with the research to alter some information hence not giving the correct information about the research.
- It relies on the expertise of each researcher
The collection of data is normally in real-time and it really relies on the skills of the researcher in order for them to get results. The ability of the researchers to follow up on some data can be limited since they not experienced in that field hence the results may not be correct.
- Difficult to locate willing participants
Not everyone can be willing to give information to the researchers hence there is a challenge to find the participants that are willing to give the correct information about what is being studied.
- Sample sizes change over time
Large samples have to be collected for the study to avoid eventualities that may occur as human beings may grow old and die or eventualities such as accidents may occur leading to the data not being useful for the study.
- One person can influence the outcome of the study
The study relies on the expertise of individuals and their skills for the conclusion of the research. This may make an individual be biased and come up with the wrong conclusion basing on the data collected.
- There is a risk of gathering data that is not reliable
As the researchers go to the field to collect the data, there is no assurity that the data being collected is reliable hence it can contribute to false results.
Longitudinal research has proved to be good especially in the field of medicine as it has enabled the researchers to identify the causes of various diseases and how they can be treated. This should be embraced and the drawbacks to being looked into so that the research can be more relevant.