Longitudinal Study
Longitudinal Study

Longitudinal Study in Research – Definition, Types & Examples

A research study can take a few months, years, and sometimes even decades to complete. It depends on the type of research study you are conducting. So, when research goes on for an extended period of time, it is most likely that the researcher is conducting a longitudinal study. Longitudinal research investigations span several years and involve studying the research participants from time to time. The longitudinal research study is a wise way to establish a causal relationship within your research samples.

As you are here reading this post, it means that you do not have an idea of a longitudinal study and want to know about it. Well, you have come to the right place. In today’s post, we will learn about this research design, its types, and examples. First of all, let’s start the discussion with the definition.

What is a longitudinal study in research?

A longitudinal study is a research conducted over a large period of time. The researcher examines the research participants repeatedly to look for any changes that happened over time. This research study is a type of correlational study which involves observing the research participants and collecting data. These research studies are mostly applicable in the fields of medical science, psychology, and sociology.

How Long Is A Longitudinal Research Study?

Its definition says that the researchers examine something for a very, very long time. Many ask how much time is required to study a sample. This question does not have a concrete answer. The reason is that there is no set time required for a longitudinal study. The researcher keeps on observing the research participants as long as the research is not completed. However, one thing is sure this research gets completed in years. Hence, there is no set time frame for a longitudinal study.

What are examples of longitudinal studies?

How does a longitudinal research study work in the real world? To answer this question, you must read some examples from the real world. So, some examples are as follows:

Example no. 1

As a researcher, you want to know the effects of a low carbohydrate diet on weight loss. So, in order to investigate this, you select different samples of obese people from a population. You select the longitudinal research method as your preferred method of research. Now, to investigate the problem, you weigh the people repeatedly, count the number of carbohydrates they take daily, and then weigh them again after some time.

Example no. 2

An investigator wants to know the effect of drinking milk daily before school on the class performance of children. He uses a sampling method to gather the representative samples who drink milk daily before going to school and who do not. Once the participant selection is over, the researcher starts observing children in school and notes their performances throughout the day. So, this is the second example of a longitudinal study. Well, if you are still in doubt about the practical side of this study, you can contact dissertation writers UK.

What are the types of longitudinal research studies?

After reading the information above, you now have a good idea of the theoretical part of the longitudinal research study as well as the practical part. Now, it is time to look at the types of this study. Hence, a brief description of the three major types is as follows:

Panel study

The first type of longitudinal study is a panel study. The panel study involves a sample of people from a population. The researcher collects information from those samples at specified intervals for a more extended period of study. The researcher sends the surveys and questionnaires to samples after some time and sees the differences in the responses. If you do not know how to create surveys, you can hire dissertation help UK.

Cohort study

A cohort study is the second type of longitudinal research study, which involves studying a group of research participants. The speciality of this type is that it studies a group of respondents who have experienced the same event at a given point in time. This study is mostly conducted in medical sciences. Such events happen in this field too often.

Retrospective study

A retrospective study is a type of longitudinal study which involves studying old documents or existing information from previous longitudinal investigations. This study helps discover the patterns present in the data of those previous studies and document them in the form of a thesis or dissertation. In simple words, you can say this type of longitudinal research study looks backwards.


Conclusively, the longitudinal study is a type of research study which lasts for an extended period of time and is based on the repetitive measure of a research variable. The examples given above explain the practical side of this study well.

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