Theory, Model, Method

Field Work 1: longitudinal versus cross-sectional studies

The general difference between the two types of study is the length of the observation span and the frequency of occasions at which data is collected.

Longitudinal studies are carried out over a longer period of time during which data from a group of individuals are collected at regular intervals. The focus of longitudinal studies is on the development or change of certain linguistic features (or patterns of usage) over time. A typical domain in which longitudinal studies are carried out is language acquisition.

In cross-sectional studies linguistic data are collected at a single point in time, usually from a relatively large group of individuals or subjects. Cross-sectional studies provide a state-of-the-art picture of a particular aspect of the language system or of how language is used.

Exercises on Naturalistic Data Collection: Field Work