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cross-sectional analysis, cross-sectional data Statistical analysis which provides information on the characteristics of, and statistical relationships between, individual units of study at a specified moment in time (the moment of data collection). Sometimes referred to as a ‘snapshot’ approach, cross-sectional analysis cannot therefore provide information on change or processes over time, for which purpose a longitudinal study design is required. However, for logistical reasons, the bulk of social survey data to date has been collected in a form suitable only for cross-sectional analysis. See also PANEL STUDY.