When considering research, design is often determined by the researcher’s theoretical perspective whereas the method of data collection typically follows from the question of interest in a particular study. Cross-sectional designs are used by empirical researchers at one point in time to describe a [Page 315]population of interest (universe). In cross-sectional designs, researchers record information but do not manipulate variables. A common example of cross-sectional design is a census study in which a population is surveyed at one point in time in order to describe characteristics of that population including age, sex, and geographic location, among other characteristics. This entry defines the characteristics of cross-sectional design, identifies examples of different types of cross-sectional designs, and describes common strengths and weaknesses of such designs. ...
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