Using Longitudinal Methodology in Career Guidance Research

  • Jane L. Swanson
  • Sarah A. Miller

The definition of career rests on the concept that one maintains or progresses in one’s work over some long period of time, often the entire lifespan. For example, career is described as “the job or series of jobs that you do during your working life, especially if you continue to get better jobs and earn more money” (Cambridge Dictionaries On-line), or “an occupation undertaken for a significant period of a person’s life, usually with opportunities for progress” (Oxford Dictionaries). More formally, a career is “an individually perceived sequence of attitudes and behaviors associated with work-related experiences and activities over the span of the person’s life” (Hall, 2002, p. 12).

Similarly, the study of careers implies interest in how some aspect of individuals’ work lives develop over time. However, research in the field of vocational psychology and career guidance has been criticised for its under use of longitudinal methodology (Hartung, Porfeli, & Vondracek, 2005; Savickas, 2002; Silbereisen, 2002). For example, Savickas (2002) offered several proposals for reinvigorating the study of careers, focusing on a series of issues that “we have come to ignore” (p. 381). He argued that researchers need to increase the use of prospective, longitudinal research designs, particularly to study development (vs. vocational behaviour) and to study careers (vs. occupations). Savickas also encouraged a focus on development first and careers second, drawing on work in life course sociology and life-span psychology.


Longitudinal Research Career Guidance Vocational Behavior Career Maturity Career Change 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media B.V 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jane L. Swanson
    • 1
  • Sarah A. Miller
    • 1
  1. 1.Southern Illinois University CarbondaleUSA

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