In a scientific study, a control group is used to establish causality by isolating the effect of an independent variable.
Here, researchers change the independent variable in the treatment group and keep it constant in the control group. Then they compare the results of these groups.
Using a control group means that any change in the dependent variable can be attributed to the independent variable. This helps avoid extraneous or confounding variables from impacting your work, as well as a few types of research bias, like omitted variable bias.
Continue reading: Control Groups and Treatment Groups | Uses & Examples
In research that investigates a potential cause-and-effect relationship, a confounding variable is an unmeasured third variable that influences both the supposed cause and the supposed effect.
It’s important to consider potential confounding variables and account for them in your research design to ensure your results are valid. Left unchecked, confoudning variables can introduce many research biases to your work, causing you to misinterpret your results.
Continue reading: Confounding Variables | Definition, Examples & Controls
A cross-sectional study is a type of research design in which you collect data from many different individuals at a single point in time. In cross-sectional research, you observe variables without influencing them.
Researchers in economics, psychology, medicine, epidemiology, and the other social sciences all make use of cross-sectional studies in their work. For example, epidemiologists who are interested in the current prevalence of a disease in a certain subset of the population might use a cross-sectional design to gather and analyze the relevant data.
Continue reading: Cross-Sectional Study | Definition, Uses & Examples
In a longitudinal study, researchers repeatedly examine the same individuals to detect any changes that might occur over a period of time.
Longitudinal studies are a type of correlational research in which researchers observe and collect data on a number of variables without trying to influence those variables.
While they are most commonly used in medicine, economics, and epidemiology, longitudinal studies can also be found in the other social or medical sciences.
Continue reading: Longitudinal Study | Definition, Approaches & Examples