Doing Longitudinal Research
Methodology, Opportunities and Challenges. A Case Study from Young Lives
Thursday, 24 June 2010, 3:00-5:00pm
Longitudinal research is an observational technique used to studying the same group of individuals over an extended period of time. Data is collected at the outset, and then repeatedly throughout the length of the study. In some cases, longitudinal studies can last several decades – and the data are often used long after the original study has been completed. Famous examples include the Children of the Great Depression study in the USA or the current Millennium Cohort Study in the UK.
Longitudinal research can be used to study a range of different issues, for example child development (health, nutrition, cognitive and psycho-social development), as in the study of Romanian orphans adopted in the UK and Canada led by Sir Michael Rutter, or to find out more about livelihoods and poverty, for example the Ethiopia Rural Household Survey.
This session will use the Young Lives project as a case study to highlight some of the challenges and benefits of longitudinal research. Young Lives is a 15-year study of childhood poverty in 4 developing countries. First we will give an overview of the study’s aims, objectives and ways of working, and then we will look at the challenges of carrying out this kind of research in order to highlight key elements of the methodology. These include sampling and the development of questionnaires, training of fieldworkers and ethics issues, maintaining long-term relationships with study children and their families, and data management. We will also give an overview of some of the key findings in order to illustrate the kinds of questions this type of study is best-suited to answer. And finally we will look at issues relating to analysis, public archiving (of a very large, quite unique dataset), and uptake by researchers and policymakers.
Children; Poverty; Longitudinal research; Evidence-based policymaking