I am having a special subject named "Methodologies of Scientific Research" in which there is a reference on Panel Studies and Cohort Studies for conducting a longitudinal survey. I am confused to what is the difference between Panel Study and Cohort Study ? In Wikipedia they look the same, that is Panel Study redirects to Cohort Study.

Edit: My field is related to Computer Science and more specifically Information Technology in an undergraduate level. The subject "Methodologies of Scientific Research" though is not constrained on applications on IT, rather it is more general and we have research examples from other sciences like Sociology, Biology, Economics etc.

  • 3
    Hi, and welcome to Academia.SE! Can you please provide a little bit more context for your question? It sounds like this is in a biomedical field, but I'm not sure, and terminology may differ between fields.
    – jakebeal
    Sep 8, 2015 at 11:07
  • 4
    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it does not appear to be about academia as defined in the Help Center.
    – Aru Ray
    Sep 21, 2015 at 17:36
  • 4
    I'm voting to close this as it's likely a better fit for CrossValidated.
    – Fomite
    Sep 21, 2015 at 21:02

3 Answers 3


The terminology for longitudinal research designs differs somewhat between disciplines. However, to my knowledge most discipline refer to a "cohort" as an entity that can be distinguished by a certain event as for example the year of birth or graduation from high school. The general idea is that there is an observable variable for the cohort membership and that individuals from the same "cohort" have something in common, e.g. the risk to die from lung cancer due to a common time of exposure. Thus, a "cohort study" looks at one cohort or compares different cohorts. In most cases, cohort studies use longitudinal research designs, but there are also cross-sectional cohort studies.
The use of the term "panel study" seems to me more vague but a "panel study" is in most cases a longitudinal study which has at least observations from two points in time. Panel studies do not need to focus on cohorts. Hence, cohort and panel studies both look specifically at the timing of certain events and variables.

For further information you could for example have a look at the following articles in the International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences:

  • Mason, W.M. and Wolfinger, N.H. 2001: Cohort Analysis, in: International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences, edited by N.J. Smelser and P.B. Baltes, Pergamon, Oxford, pp. 2189-2194.
  • Duncan, G.J. 2001: Panel Surveys: Uses and Applications, in: International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences, edited by N.J. Smelser and P.B. Baltes, Pergamon, Oxford, pp. 11009-11015.
  • To the person who flagged for moving - the first criteria for moving a question is for it to be off-topic on the current site. This fits here; no migration is necessary. (I neglected to add this comment before clearing the flag; my fault.)
    – eykanal
    Sep 24, 2015 at 1:46
  • Note that while many cohort studies follow this logic, many others don't. In epidemiology, cohort is just an identifiable group. It sometimes has a specific rooting in place or time, but not always.
    – Fomite
    Sep 25, 2018 at 21:47

In research,panel and cohort studies are both longitudinal studies.in cohort studies the researcher makes repeated measurements on a group of people,elements or characters which or who share the same experiences. I tend to think that in cohort study,for example a researcher carries out research on class 8 cohorts of 2014 then after the cohort leaves he or she continues carrying research with the class 8 cohort of 2015. The researcher in this case is interested with the class 8 cohort because probably he is doing a research on let's say , "why do class 8 pupils perform poorly in mathematics" In panel studies,data are collected from the same set of people at specific intervals over a long period of time. The key feature in panel studies is that they collect repeated measurements from the same sample at different points in time.A researcher might for example follow a set of people from when they are in kindergarten to secondary then university and so on. If you want to read more,look for a book by Bernard Russel on research.

Just my thoughts,I stand corrected.


Cohorts and Panels are techniques employed for selecting a sample frame for a particular study. They do not specify the time frame for data collection. So, therefore, cohorts and Panels can be formed to collect data for both cross-sectional (one-time data collection) and longitudinal studies (repeated data collection over a specified period of time).

  • What does this add that the prior answer does not?
    – jakebeal
    Jan 30, 2018 at 16:42

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