Unformatted text preview: The Process and Problems of Criminological and Criminal Justice Research Chapter 2 Chapter 2 Criminological Research Questions The Role of Criminological Theory Social Research Strategies: Inductive and Deductive Methods The Language of Research Creating Hypotheses Guidelines for Criminologists Ethical Guidelines Criminological Research Criminological Research Questions Questions about some aspect of crime, criminals, or the criminal justice system that you seek to answer by collection and analysis of data
– Many possible sources – Any purpose Theory Prior research Researcher’s observations and personal experiences Exploratory and Descriptive who, what, when, where, how many Explanatory why Evaluation combination – May yield either quantitative data or qualitative data (or both) What is the Research What is the Research Question? Do mandatory arrest policies prevent future incidents of spousal abuse? What makes a research question “good”?
1. Feasibility: You can start and finish an investigation of your 1. research question with the resources that you can obtain and in the time that is available. 1. Social Importance: Your research question will address an issue that you feel is important and that will make a difference in the field of criminology or be important for public policy. 2. Scientific Relevance: Your research question is grounded on what others have learned about the topic to help to resolve some contradictory research findings or a puzzling issue in criminological theory. (King, Keohane, & Verba, 1994) Social Research Strategies: Social Research Strategies: Inductive and Deductive Methods
Link between Theory and Data Theory Ideas Data
Observations Deductive Reasoning: Theories Deductive Reasoning: Theories used in Domestic Assault Study
Rational Choice Theoretical assumption Behavior shaped by calculation of cost/benefits of action Symbolic Interactionism People give symbolic meaning to objects, behaviors, & other people Criminological Criminological component component Deterrence theory; people break law if benefits of doing so outweigh costs Labeling theory: people label offenders as deviant, promoting further deviance Prediction (effect of arrest for domestic assault) Abusing spouse, having seen cost of abuse (arrest) decides not to abuse again Abusing spouse, having been labeled as “an abuser” abuses more often Using a Deductive Strategy to Study Domestic Assault
Does arrest deter future assaults or make them more likely? Start with theory(ies) Develop hypotheses Collect data Analyze data Draw conclusions about whether theory is supported – Statements of what you expect to observe if theory is true Inductive Research: Research Question for Study of Domestic Assault If a police precinct noticed (from their arrest data) that arrests of at least one person from the scene of a domestic violence case resulted in fewer subsequent calls to that same scene, the police officers might develop (induce) a theory that mandatory arrests decrease domestic violence recidivism. Using an Inductive Strategy to Study Domestic Assault Collect data on something of interest Use information collected to develop theory of how some phenomenon works outside your specific study (generalize) Develop a new theory or refine an old theory Exploratory Research is Exploratory Research is Often Inductive Begin by observing social interaction or interviewing social actors in depth and then develop an explanation for what has been found Rather than testing a hypothesis, researchers try to make sense of some social phenomenon, by asking questions like – – – “What is going on here?” “How do people interpret these experiences?” “Why do people do what they do?” Explanations developed inductively from qualitative research can feel authentic because we have heard what people have to say “in their own words” and we have tried to see the social world “as they see it” Exploratory Research and Exploratory Research and Domestic Violence
If you wanted to understand why domestic violence victims often do not press charges on the partners who were arrested, you might want to explore the phenomenon by interviewing a sample of victims and asking them how they experienced the criminal justice system. Descriptive Research Applied to Domestic Violence
How frequently do those arrested for domestic violence return to violence? Description of social phenomena can stimulate more ambitious deductive and inductive research. Simply put, good description of data is the cornerstone for the scientific research process and an essential component for understanding the social world. The Language of Research The Language of Research Variable Attributes Constant – Characteristic or concept that is measured – Is not the same for everyone in the study – Values the variable can have – Characteristic or concept that IS the same for everyone in study Occupation It is quite possible to create variables that are poor measures of a concept, BUT it is usually not true that there is only one correct variable that is a perfect representation of any specific concept Some examples of variables and possible attributes. Can you think of others? plumber Attributes armed robbery medium Variables Offense Security level of institution Independent and Dependent Independent and Dependent Variables Independent variable (IV) Dependent variable (DV) – A variable that is hypothesized to cause, or lead to, variation in another variable. – A variable that is hypothesized to vary depending on or under the influence of another variable – A phenomenon you want to explain Cause (IV) and Effect (DV) Ifthen statements: If the IV increases/decreases/changes then the DV increases/decreases/changes. – Grammar: Subject (IV), verb (“causes” or “predicts”), Object (DV) – – May also think of IVs and DVs in terms of ….. Most concepts can be either IV or DV, depending on the specific study and population Creating Hypotheses Creating Hypotheses To use deductive reasoning, first state a hypothesis that is derived from propositions presented in a theory A hypothesis – Statement about empirical reality, involving a relationship between two or more variables (called “independent” and “dependent” variables) – It can also be understood as a statement about what you expect your data to show, based on the theory you are testing – We use variables in formulating hypotheses and research questions (We also use variables to measure other important concepts in research.) – implies that a change in one variable is related to a change in the other variable – is a declarative statement – a complete sentence – not only proposes that two variables are related, but also proposes the direction of the relationship Alternate and Null Hypotheses Alternate and Null Hypotheses
alternate (or research) hypothesis [H ]: states the expected or predicted relationship (usually positive or negative) between two variables null hypothesis [H ]: states that there is 1 Examples of Hypotheses Examples of Hypotheses Positive Relationship with Positive Relationship with Continuous Variables
As the unemployment rate in a community decreases, the community rate of property crime decreases. OR If the unemployment rate is lower, then the rate of property crime is lower.
DV High Rate of Property Crime Positive Relationship Low Low Unemployment Rate
High IV Negative Relationship with Negative Relationship with Continuous Variables
As one’s selfcontrol gets stronger, the fewer delinquent acts one commits. OR If selfcontrol is higher, then the number of delinquents acts is lower.
DV High Delinquent Acts Negative Relationship Low Low Selfcontrol
High IV Negative Relationship with Categorical Variables
Crime is lower in those communities where the police patrol on foot. OR If a community has police foot patrols, then the level of crime is lower.
DV High Crime • • •• • •• • ••• •
No •• • •• • • •• • • • ••
Negative Relationship Low IV Presence of Foot Patrols Null Relationship with Null Relationship with Categorical Variable
Children who come from broken homes are as likely to commit delinquent acts as those who come from intact homes. OR If children come from broken or intact homes, then the likelihood of committing delinquency is the same or equal.
DV High Low
Type of Structural Arrangement • Likelihood of Delinquent Acts • • • • • • • Null Relationship Intact IV The Process of Researching the Effects of Mandatory Arrests Guidelines for Criminologists Guidelines for Criminologists
1. 2. 3. Test ideas against empirical reality without becoming too personally invested in a particular outcome Plan and carry out investigations systematically Document research procedures and disclose them publicly 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Specify the meaning of all terms Maintain a skeptical stance toward current knowledge Replicate research and accumulate knowledge Maintain an interest in theory Search for regularities or patterns Ethical Guidelines Ethical Guidelines Professional guidelines, laws or regulations Honesty and Openness
– Accuracy of research – Knowledge is gained by replication – The cost of “getting it wrong” – By whom, how, for what? – Institutional Review Boards (IRB) Uses of Science Research on People General Requirements for General Requirements for Research on People No harm to subjects Voluntary participation by subjects
– – – – Physical or psychological – Measures to reduce/address potential harm No coercion regarding participation Inform participant of nature of study Obtain their informed consent to be in study Guarantee anonymity and/or confidentiality Benefits should outweigh foreseeable risks – Anonymous = identity of subject is unknown – Confidential = identity of subject is known but not revealed to anyone outside the study – Subject must specifically waive confidentiality Interpreting Potential Harm Interpreting Potential Harm
How should “no harm to subjects” be interpreted? Does “harm” refer to psychological, social, as well as physical harm? Is it harmful if subjects feel any anxiety or distress whatsoever during the study, or is harm relevant only after their involvement ends? Should the possibility of any harm, no matter how remote, deter research? Is potential harm to the researcherrelevant? Requirement of Informed Requirement of Informed Consent Consent must be given by persons who are competent to consent. Whom might not be included in this group? Consent must be voluntary. Does this include research on prisoners? How about research on students? Might there be an element of coercion? Participants must be fully informed about the nature of the research, but what if explaining the research affects the spontaneity of the subjects’ behavior or answers? Can you conduct covert or deceptive research? Not all harm is foreseeable and thus cannot be disclosed to participants. Maintaining Confidentiality Maintaining Confidentiality and Anonymity Procedures such as locking records and creating special identifying codes must be created to minimize the risk of access by unauthorized persons Laws allow research records to be subpoenaed and may require reporting of child abuse, threats to harm others, etc. The standard of confidentiality does not apply to observation in public places and information available in public records Is My Research Ethical?
The evaluation of ethical issues in a research project should be based on a realistic assessment of the overall potential for harm and benefit to research subjects rather than an apparent inconsistency between any particular aspect of a research plan and a specific ethical guideline. Who Decides?
Ultimately, these decisions about ethical procedures are not only up to you, as a researcher, to make. Research must also be approved by an individual or group authorized to do so. If it is a project that you plan to conduct for a course, the instructor may be authorized to approve it. Most other studies must be approved by the Institutional Review Board Special Ethical Issues in Special Ethical Issues in Criminal Justice Research Revealing illegal or deviant behavior Crime displacement Withholding desirable treatments Random assignment Special populations involving juveniles and prisoners ...
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