Long-term research is well recognized as a vital tool, and we can find examples for various systems and species. For this reason, today, we will explain everything related to this exciting research methodology in depth.
What is long-term research?
Long-term research is a study design that considers observing the same variables/entities over time. It is also called a longitudinal survey. We can find examples of its application in environmental studies, agricultural studies, evolution, medicine, human health, Emerging technologies, and Land use.
It is usually mainly used in studies where we can analyze the object of study over time from different perspectives and periods.
The length of a study of this type usually varies depending on the needs and objectives, but all those projects that take about 5 years to complete can be considered long-term research.
Pros & cons of long term research
Long-term research has particular applications, so it has some advantages and disadvantages to take into account; below we list some of them.
Long term research Pros:
- Long-term research is essential to record changes over a prolonged period.
- It can help you identify patterns that may occur over a long period.
- It allows higher levels of validity.
- Data collected/determined is unique.
- It enables you to identify a path or a trend towards development.
Long term research Cons:
- It’s gradual, and this involves time-consuming processes.
- There’s always a factor of uncertainty/unpredictability.
- The cost is usually high and direct compared to the other forms of research.
- The process is dependent on the skills of the researchers.
- Reliance on individual interpretations can introduce alterations.
At the end of the day, the advantages are more notorious than the disadvantages when it comes to long-term research.
Long-Term Research Example
Below we share an actual case where long-term research was the methodology used to provide answers to clear objectives.
- Acid rain is caused due to sulfur and nitric acid pollution in the atmosphere, resulting in fish kills and forest decline across the Northeast.
- The evidence came from a series of rain collectors at the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest.
- Researchers not only noticed that the pH of the rain and snow was low, but when they compared it to previous years of data they realized it was abnormally low. After the problem was recognized, practitioners and politicians came together to reduce pollution, which in turn reduced acid rain to safer levels.
- Without Hubbard Brook’s long-term dataset, identification of acid rain as the cause of forest decline might have taken much longer or never happened at all.
Other Notable Examples of Long-Term Investigations
- Climate change studies: There are several studies around the world that use long-term research as their main tool, in addition to including other observational research methods to study changes on the planet as a result of this phenomenon.
- Pitch drop experiment: It is an experiment that has been running since 1927 and its purpose is to calculate the density of the material poured into the decanter. The guardians of this experiment keep a record of each droplet which can take several months to happen, thanks to this they can calculate and better understand the density of liquids and their behavior.
Importance of using a data repository in a long-term investigation
One of the biggest challenges faced by researchers who lead this type of project is in the planning and administration of data, this is where technology has played an important role in recent years.
The research repositories allow researchers to easily add, manage and consult the data collected over time, this type of system allows proper management of all this information thanks to its focus on the classification and administration of all the data poured into them.
This greatly facilitates the task of researchers over the years, not only allowing them to maintain a backup of their information but also to be able to consult the information they need in seconds using intelligent filters that allow them to make elaborate and precise conclusions over time. throughout the duration of the investigation.
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