Let us now define research through its characteristics. Research begins with a problem or a question followed by the setting of goals and devising of a method or specific plan. The main problem is expounded by a hypothesis and assumptions regarding the cause or possible solutions are accepted as part of the research process. Research is not only about data gathering, but it is likewise concerned with the interpretation of data as a means to arrive at a solution to the problem or an answer to the main question (Andersen).
There are four basic research design elements. These elements include treatments, measures, time and groups or individual. We shall focus on the time element for the purposes of this paper. Time is very important as it determines the degree and quality of observed changes. There are two classifications of research design under the time element: cross-sectional and longitudinal studies. A cross-sectional study is carried out at one instance, while a longitudinal study occurs over a period of time with a series of measurements (Trochim, 2006). A cross-sectional study includes observation of diverse groups of people of various age levels or a cross-section of a population. A longitudinal study involves observing and gathering information from the same group of people over a period of time.
The focus of cross-sectional studies is on the differences between groups at a certain point in time, while the f ...Show more