Panel research involves recruiting a group of respondents who have agreed to take part in surveys over a set period of time. These respondents usually share an extensive amount of information about themselves and their households, which can be used for appropriate sample selection.
Census research involves attempting to survey an entire group of targeted respondents. If a client has a select list of targeted respondents they want to survey, we target all respondents and attempt to complete a full census of the audience.
In panel research, a respondent agrees to become a panel member. The member is defined by any number of variables — age, income, type of work, purchasing/decision-making power, etc. Even psychographic characteristics may be used in member selection. Members participate over time in a series of research studies covering either one or multiple topics. A census can be accomplished in the same manner, in which respondents participate over time in a series of surveys.
This research is particularly useful for longitudinal studies where researchers want to track ideas and views over a set period of time among a specific audience and when you want a full view of how a specific target population feels about an issue.