Panel Survey and Focus Group Research Approaches

Panel survey is a unique form of study considering the fact that it utilizes the same sample population over a period. This means that time is an important factor when analyzing a panel survey because it is the major distinctive factor from other forms of research methods and approaches. Nichols (2009) elucidates the sample population, which the respondent visit regularly for the purpose of collecting data is usually referred to as Panel. It is not worth that unlike other forms of surveys panel survey often involves a small sample to lessen the burden of follow-ups. The focus of the panel survey is usually people with unifying attribute in a particular period (Amico, 2009). This may include people living conditions, students of a particular class or individuals born in the same era. Panel survey has been associated with a wide range of advantages beginning with the fact that it involves regularly repeated interviews thus providing accurately fresh data over time. Another major advantage is the fact that the Panel survey does not only focus on the simple association between variables but also offers a deep insight into causality. Panel survey is certainly one of the few research methods that can be used to track process and events (Lynn, 2009). For instance, a panel survey can be used to track the poverty dynamics of particular households over time. The same case can apply to track exposures to unemployment over time in society. Panel surveys are broad and detailed taking into consideration that they engage regular follow-ups, which gives the researcher a perfect opportunity for gathering detailed information about the subjects, compared to cross-sectional research methods. Despite the widely traded advantages of a panel survey, it is noteworthy that this form of research method also comes with a wide range of short backs. The fact that this form of research method involves follows makes it one of the most expensive methods of gathering data inform of time consumption and cost (Yang, Zhao, amp. Dhar, 2010). Follow up rate is also another major challenge that researchers have to experience during panel surveys considering that they are difficult to sustain owing to the duration of time involved. There is less representation in the panel survey compared to traditional sample survey techniques. Because of the cost involved, most researchers are often influenced by using a small sample size when carrying out a Panel survey. This is quite disadvantageous owing to the fact that the surveyor may not get the exact representation of the population. Attrition of panel members is another challenge that pane surveys tend to face (Lee, 2007). It is common knowledge that a panel survey normally involves gathering data from the same participants over a period and such conduct may be weary to the participants and as such drop out of the study. Key among the similarities between Focus group and panel survey includes but not limited to the use of interviews, involve a small sample population, involve participants with a common interest, and experienced moderators. Mills (2010) asserts that a Focus group is a form of research method that involves group discussion, which is focused on gaining participants’ insight, attitude, knowledge, and perceptions towards a particular subject in question.