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The term longitudinal design refers to a flexible research approach that can be applied to a wide range of topics involving change over time. Longitudinal refers to both the data collected and the methods of analysis used, and project designs can combine several data-gathering and analysis methods within a longitudinal framework. Longitudinal research demonstrates several features that permit the observation of process and change and facilitate identification and evaluation of the underlying factors. Several library and information science studies demonstrate the application of a longitudinal approach to both prospective and retrospective research questions. This article draws primarily on a longitudinal study of leaders who emerged in the archival profession during the 1980s when archivists developed the first set of descriptive standards (MARC AMC) in response to trends in the automation of library cataloging. The study identified a core group of leaders whose influence drove the archival profession to move in a specific direction. The identification of opinion leaders and elites, and the factors that led to their status, has significant implications for understanding patterns of decision making and communication within organizations.