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Week One Read Me First



 



INTRODUCTION TO RESEARCH IN CRIMINAL JUSTICE



 


Introduction


 


This course introduces the student to concepts of research in criminal justice. In this section, we explore the basics of what research is and what it can do in the criminal justice system. This week, the student is exposed to a variety of new terminology relating to research and meet the following objectives.


 



  • Explore the scientific approach to criminal justice research.

  • Distinguish between qualitative and quantitative research.

  • Differentiate between pure and applied research.

  • Specify the various functions of the research process.

  • Summarize the meaning of research ethics and examine the codes of ethics in criminal justice research.

  • Assess the nature and diversity of ethical dilemmas in criminological research.

  • Explore the meaning of statistics and the basic ideas behind any statistical study.     


 


This Week in Relation to the Course


 


CJA/334 addresses various questions and problems of various components of the criminal justice system. As with other disciplines, criminal justice is sometimes difficult to define, as it involves issues that involve cross-discipline issues from psychology and public administration to sociology and law. Criminal justice research addresses all aspects from police, courts, corrections, criminal procedures, juveniles, and a host of other mundane problems faced by stakeholders.


 


Heffner (2004) states that research is the foundation of all sciences. Research is a controlled effort to acquire knowledge about a problem. Heffner writes that research uses the process of deductive reasoning which “refers to a structured approach utilizing an accepted premise (known as a major premise), a related minor premise, and an obvious conclusion” (2004).  


 


According to Heffner (2004), the research process may fluctuate, given the type of research being done, the hypothesis being tested, and the questions being answered. For the physical scientist, the process would involve a more comprehensive structured approach, whereas the social sciences may use a less structured approach, such as surveys, interviews, and other nonintrusive measures. A universal method for accomplishing productive research is in the table below.


 


Not only are steps in research important, but the ethics of the endeavor are also important. What are the main ethical issues in criminal justice research? Most criminal justice research involves using human subjects as participants and presents a variety of issues that must be addressed by investigators. The primary concern should be that no harm comes to participants. Investigators must secure participants’ informed consent and objectively weigh the risks and benefits of the research. Another issue that often plagues research is information confidentiality. How will the information be protected from curiosity seekers or nonethical researchers? Above all, procedures must be in place to address any exigent circumstance that may arise. 


 


Table 1: Steps Involved in the Research Process


 










 



(adapted from Heffner, 2004)


 


Heffner, C. (2004). Research methods: Chapter one: Introduction to research. AllPsychOnline. Retrieved from http://allpsych.com/researchmethods/introduction.html 



 


Practical Applications and Questions


 


What is research? What provides discipline in the research process? Why is this discipline important? What are the similarities and differences between basic and applied research? What are the similarities and differences between qualitative and quantitative research? What distinguishes scientific research from research or problem solving in everyday life? What are the similarities and differences between inductive and deductive logic? Why should someone know about research methods? Compare and contrast subjectivity and objectivity. What parts do replication and verification play in scientific research? Why should researchers share results with their subjects? From what sources might research topics emerge? What are research ethics? What is a code of conduct? What is a paradigm? How does this contribute to building theory? What is a variable? Explain the difference between an independent variable and a dependent variable. Provide an example of each. What is the Lucifer Effect? Provide a real-life example. What is an institutional review board? Why is this important for the academic and research communities? What is a research population? What is a research sample? Provide an example of each. What is a random sample? Why is this important to the efficacy of an effective research study?


How Tools, Readings, and Simulations Help Solidify Concepts


 


This week, there are three chapters from the textbooks and several additional readings. As you review the textbooks, remember that we are talking about research methods. Research is the mechanism by which the efficacy of theories is usually tested. Theory almost always provides guidance for research and how it is implemented.


 


Ethics are standards of professional groups or organizations that spawn ethical codes. Several different problems arise in criminal justice research from plagiarism to statistical manipulations to research harmful to human subjects. Those issues must also be reviewed and discussed.


 


Summary


 


Criminal justice research is the same as all other research disciplines. The discipline is an organized and systematic way of finding answers to relevant questions and problems. The process is well thought out and preplanned to achieve the outcomes. In the quest for finding the answers and solutions to questions and problems, the results often lead to other problems and questions. Research must have focus and a purpose.


 


In the ethics of research, we have an obligation to distinguish between what is ethics and what is  law, because there are common characteristics. As Goodman & Miller (2000) states, “Ethics offers conceptual tools to evaluate and guide moral decision making. Ethical considerations apply in attempts to determine what is good or meritorious and which behaviors are desirable or correct in accordance with higher principles” (pp. 370-402). Laws, on the other hand, allow society a rule to live by under specific circumstances and prescribe legal sanctions, such as fines or prison time, for those who do not conform to the law.


 


The legal philosophy frequently evolves from ethical issues. Whereas legal principles deal with the realistic control of morality, ethical principles deal with the individual’s approach to morality. These two principles are important for the researcher to abide by. They must know the legal ramifications of illegal behavior and the ethical ramifications of various actions. In criminal justice research, we must adhere to the process of self-regulation, lest the imposition of laws to regulate ethical behavior in research.     


 


References


 


Goodman, K. W., & Miller, R. A. (2000). Ethics and Health Informatics: Users, Standards, and Outcomes. In E.H. Shortliffe & L. E. Perrault (Eds.), Medical Informatics: Computer Applications in Health Care and Biomedicine (pp. 379–402), New York, NY: Springer


 


Heffner, C. (2004). Research methods: Chapter one: Introduction to research. AllPsychOnline. Retrieved from http://allpsych.com/researchmethods/introduction.html


 


 Prepare a 1,050- to 1,750-word paper in which you describe the research process. Include the following: · Include new terminology learned from the reading. · How will this new terminology and knowledge apply to a career in criminal justice? · How can not knowing the proper terminology affect you as you conduct criminal justice research? · How will knowing these terms be an asset to you when evaluating and analyzing research studies or data? Format your paper consistent with APA guidelines


 


Source for this class-(5 weeks):



Research Methods in


Criminal Justice and


Criminology



E i g h t h E d i t i o n



Frank E. Hagan



Mercyhurst College



Prentice Hall



Upper Saddle River, New Jersey


Columbus, Ohio



ISBN 0-558-58864-6



Research Methods in Criminal Justice and Criminology



 



, Eighth Edition, by Frank E. Hagan. Published by Prentice Hall. Copyright © 2010 by Pearson Education, Inc


 



Research Methods in


Criminal Justice and


Criminology



E i g h t h E d i t i o n



Frank E. Hagan



Mercyhurst College



Prentice Hall



Upper Saddle River, New Jersey


Columbus, Ohio



ISBN 0-558-58864-6



Research Methods in Criminal Justice and Criminology



 



, Eighth Edition, by Frank E. Hagan. Published by Prentice Hall. Copyright © 2010 by Pearson Education, Inc



 



PREFACE



The first edition of



Research Methods in Criminal Justice and Criminology

was prepared in the

early 1980s, when no comprehensive research text existed that directly addressed the areas of


criminal justice and criminology.


The text remains a comprehensive one, emphasizing sources and resources of classic and


contemporary research in the field. There continues to be an acceleration of publications in


the field, employing increasingly sophisticated and esoteric research designs and statistical


analysis. The intent of the eighth edition remains the same as the first seven: to reduce the gap


that exists between the types of materials appearing in professional journals and publications


in the field and the ability of students and professionals to understand them. The approach is to


use criminological and criminal justice studies to illustrate research methods, because it is


as important to become familiar with examples of research in the field as it is to learn fundamental


research skills.


This edition features revisions throughout, while retaining a vital core of material from the


first seven editions. The organization of the work will carry the student through the sequence of


the research process. Instructors may wish to shuffle the order of the chapters, however, to suit


their syllabus or research style.


The first chapter introduces the reader to the area of criminological and criminal justice


research while attacking commonsense approaches to research. Chapter 1 also outlines the steps


in research elaborated on in Chapters 3 through 11. Following the issue of problem formulation


in the first chapter, Chapter 2 examines the important issue of research ethics. Research designs


and the experimental model, the latter being a benchmark with which to compare all other


research in criminal justice, are detailed in Chapter 3.


In Chapter 4, the Uniform Crime Reports and its major revisions are examined, as are the


various sampling strategies used in research. Chapter 5 looks at survey research, particularly


mail questionnaires and self-report studies. Chapter 6 concentrates on interviews and telephone


surveys, particularly recent developments in victim surveys. Also featured are Internet surveys.


Participant observation and case studies are the subject of Chapter 7. Such field studies represent


some of the most fascinating literature in the field.


Chapter 8 explores the interesting world of nonreactive or unobtrusive techniques, which


include criminal justice and criminological applications involving secondary and content analysis,


physical trace analysis, the use of official data, and observational strategies—all of which are


useful, cost-effective means of gathering data. Alternative means of data gathering such as surveys,


field studies, and unobtrusive methods often contain strengths missing in experimental research.


The important issues of validity and reliability are detailed in Chapter 9; the triangulated strategies


are proposed as the single most logical path by which to resolve these questions. In all of these


chapters, examples of both classic and contemporary research in criminal justice and criminology


are used as illustrations. In addition to providing an overview of research methods, this text also


presents a review and analysis of research literature.


Chapter 10 discusses scaling and index construction and features new and expanded coverage


of crime severity scales, salient factor scores, and prediction scales. Chapter 11 discusses evaluation


research and policy analysis that reflects the growing interest of the social sciences in these subjects


in the past few years.





ISBN 0-558-58864-6



Research Methods in Criminal Justice and Criminology



 



, Eighth Edition, by Frank E. Hagan. Published by Prentice Hall. Copyright © 2010 by Pearso


 



Preface



Data analysis is the subject of Chapters 12 and 13, with Chapter 12 examining data


management activities such as coding, keyboard entry, and table reading and Chapter 13 providing a


user’s guide to statistics. The latter is intended as a quick reference guide to many of the major


statistical techniques presented in the literature. Although the primary goal of this chapter is to


provide the reader with the ability to recognize and interpret the meaning of statistics, “pop quizzes”


and additional appendixes have been added to assist in improved comprehension. It is hoped that the


style of presentation will convert many readers who may begin the course with apprehension into


relatively fluent users of “researchese,” a valuable and useful international language.


In addition to updating tables, figures, references, and examples, some principle changes


have been made in this edition in response to reviewer and user suggestions. Useful Web sites


have been provided in all chapters. New to this edition is discussion of Zimbardo’s “Lucifer


effect,” controversies related to the Human Terrain System and Minerva Consortium, advice on


interviewing active offenders and gaining entry to correctional facilities, Steffensmeier and


Ullmer’s



Confessions of a Dying Thief

, and discussion of the violent and property crime indexes.

Also featured are Sherman’s Scientific Methods Scale, visual criminology, the Scarlet M in


corrections research, resolution of the Iowa “Monster study,” the current status of shield laws,


and telephone focus groups.


I would like to thank the many people who assisted me in various ways in writing the


editions of this text. I would like to express my appreciation to those at Pearson Prentice Hall for


their encouragement and assistance on this project. Tim Peyton, Senior Acquisitions Editor;


Jessica Sykes, Project Manager; Alicia Wozniak, Senior Marketing Coordinator; and Dan


Trudden, Developmental Editor, were all instrumental in getting this project done. I would also


like to thank past reviewers, Howard Abadinsky, John Hudzik, and John Smykla for their helpful


reviews of the first edition, as well as James A. Adamitis, the University of Dayton; Rosy A.


Ekpenyong, Michigan State University; RXXXXX XXXXX, Indiana University of Pennsylvania;


Robert J. Mutchnick, Indiana University of Pennsylvania; Shirley R. Salem, Southern University


at New Orleans; and Frank Schmallenger, Ph.D., Editor of




The Justice Professional

, for their

many fine suggestions for the second edition. For their reviews of, suggestions for, and comments


concerning the third edition, I would like to thank Pamela Tontodonato, Kent State University;


Laure Weber Brooks, University of Maryland; James A. Adamitis, the University of Dayton;


William E. Thornton, Loyola University; and Malcolm D. Holmes, University of Texas at El Paso.


Mike Blankenship, Sean Gabiddon, Peter Benekos, and my colleagues in the Criminal Justice


Department are acknowledged, as are reviewers for the fifth edition: Wanda Foglia, Rowan


University of New Jersey; William E. Thornton, Loyola University; Obie Clayton, Morehouse


Research Institute; XXXXX XXXXX, Jersey City State College; and Art Jipsom, Miami


University. Reviewers for the sixth edition included Shaun Gabbidon, Penn State-Harrisburg; Ray


Newman, Polk Community College; John E. Eck, University of Cincinnati; Angela West,


University of Louisville; and Robert Costello, Nassau Community College. The seventh edition


benefited from the reviews of Allan Y. Jiao, Rowan University; Stephen D. Kaftan, Hawkeye


Community College; Sudipto Roy, Indiana State University; Shaun Gabbidon, Pennsylvania State


University, Harrisburg; Lisa L. Sample, University of Nebraska, Omaha; Minerva XXXXX, XXXXX


Houston State University; Amir B. Marvasti, Pennsylvania State University; Altoona, Debra E.


Ross, Grand Valley State University; and Elizabeth L. Grossi, University of Louisville.


Appreciation is extended to the reviewers of this edition: Desire Anastasia, San Diego State


University; Jason Crow, California State University, Fresno; Carlos E. Posadas, New Mexico


State University; Chad Trulson, University of North Texas; and Jeffrey A. Walsh, Illinois State


University. Thanks is also extended to Vidisha Barua, Pennsylvania State University, Altoona.





ISBN 0-558-58864-6



Research Methods in Criminal Justice and Criminology



 



, Eighth Edition, by Frank E. Hagan. Published by Prentice Hall. Copyright © 2010 by Pearson Education, Inc.



Preface




v



I also once again express my gratitude to Marie Haug and Marvin Sussman for providing my early


training in research. Although much of what is good about this book is due to the many fine


suggestions of the reviewers, the author is solely responsible for any shortcomings.


Finally, I would like to thank my wife, MaryAnn, whose continuing support, editing, data


entry, and encouragement made completion of this new edition possible. I would like to dedicate


this edition to MaryAnn. I would like to encourage students as well as faculty to contact me with


any questions, comments, or suggestions via e-mail:XXX@XXXXXX.XXX.


F.E.H.


 




CONTENTS



vii



Chapter 1




Introduction to Criminal Justice Research Methods:

Theory and Method 1





Scientific Research in Criminal Justice 2


Common Sense and Nonsense 3


Why Study Research Methods in Criminal Justice? 5


The Emergence of Science and Criminal Justice 5


The Probabilistic Nature of Science 6


Proper Conduct of Critical Inquiry 7


Approaches to Theory and Method in Criminal Justice 7



Exhibit 1.1




The Paradigm Shift in Policing 9




Pure versus Applied Research 10



Exhibit 1.2




The Project on Human Development: An Accelerated

Longitudinal Design Using Nine Spaced-Age Cohorts 11





Exhibit 1.3




Crime Analysis: Applied Criminal Justice Research 13




Qualitative and Quantitative Research 14


Researchese: The Language of Research 15


Concepts 15


Operationalization 16


Variables 16


Dependent and Independent Variables 16


Theories/Hypotheses 16


Examples of the Research Process 18


Recidivism among Juvenile Offenders 18


General Steps in Empirical Research in Criminal Justice 19


Problem Formulation: Selection of Research Problem 19



Exhibit 1.4




Feminist Perspectives and Research Methods 20




Problem Formulation: Specification of Research


Problem 21



Exhibit 1.5




The World Wide Web (WWW) 23




Summary 26 • Key Concepts 26


Review Questions 27 • Useful Web Sites 27



Chapter 2




Ethics in Criminal Justice Research 28




Ethical Horror Stories 28


Biomedical Examples 28


Social Science Examples 31



ISBN 0-558-58864-6



Research Methods in Criminal Justice and Criminology



 



, Eighth Edition, by Frank E. Hagan. Published by Prentice Hall. Copyright © 2010 by Pearson Education, Inc


 



Exhibit 2.1




AIDS Research in Africa and Asia: Is It Ethical? 31




Exhibit 2.2




The Minerva Consortium And The Human

Terrain System 35





Researcher Fraud and Plagiarism 36



Exhibit 2.3




Legendary Research Scams 37




The Researcher’s Role 38


Research Targets in Criminal Justice 39


Ethics and Professionalism 40


Ethics in Criminal Justice Research 40


History of Federal Regulation of Research 41


The Belmont Report 43


Institutional Review Boards (IRBs) 44


Research Activities Exempt from HHS Review 47


National Institute of Justice’s Human Subject Protection


Requirements 48


Confidentiality of Criminal Justice Research 49



Exhibit 2.4




Codes of Research Ethics of the Academy of Criminal Justice

Sciences (ACJS) 50





Ethical Issues in Criminology/Criminal Justice Research 52


Avoid Research That May Harm Respondents 52


Honor Commitments to Respondents and Respect


Reciprocity 53


Exercise Objectivity and Professional Integrity in Performing


and Reporting Research 53


Protect Confidentiality and Privacy of Respondents 54


Ethical Problems 55


The Brajuha Case (Weinstein Decision) 57


The Ofshe Case 58


The Hutchinson Case 58


The Scarce Case 59


Additional Ethical Concerns 61


Avoiding Ethical Problems 61



Summary 62 • Key Concepts 63


Review Questions 63 • Useful Web Sites 63



Chapter 3




Research Design: The Experimental Model

and Its Variations 64





The Experimental Model 65


Research Design in a Nutshell 65


Causality 66


Resolution of the Causality Problem 67



viii



 



ISBN 0-558-58864-6



Research Methods in Criminal Justice and Criminology



 



, Eighth Edition, by Frank E. Hagan. Published by Prentice Hall. Copyright © 2010 by Pearson Education, Inc



 


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Prepare a 1,050- to 1,750-word paper in which you describe the research process. Include the following: · Include new terminology learned from the reading. · How will this new terminology and knowledge apply to a career in criminal justice? · How can not knowing the proper terminology affect you as you conduct criminal justice research? · How will knowing these terms be an asset to you when evaluating and analyzing research studies or data? Format your paper consistent with APA guidelines

 

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H A P T E R

1 Introduction to Criminal Justice

Research Methods

Theory and Method

Scientific Research in Criminal Justice

Common Sense and Nonsense

Why Study Research Methods

in Criminal Justice?

The Emergence of Science and Criminal Justice

The Probabilistic Nature of Science

Proper Conduct of Critical Inquiry

Approaches to Theory and Method

in Criminal Justice

Exhibit 1.1 The Paradigm Shift in Policing

Pure versus Applied Research

Exhibit 1.2 The Project on Human

Development: An Accelerated Longitudinal

Design Using Nine Spaced-Age Cohorts

Exhibit 1.3 Crime Analysis: Applied

Criminal Justice Research

Qualitative and Quantitative Research

Researchese: The Language of Research

Concepts

Operationalization

Variables

Dependent and Independent Variables

Theories/Hypotheses

Examples of the Research Process

Recidivism among Juvenile Offenders

General Steps in Empirical Research

in Criminal Justice

Problem Formulation: Selection of

Research Problem

Exhibit 1.4 Feminist Perspectives and

Research Methods

Problem Formulation: Specification of

Research Problem

Exhibit 1.5 The World Wide Web (WWW)

Summary

Key Concepts

Review Questions

Useful Web Sites

Most students of criminal justice or criminology approach a course in research methods with

the enthusiasm of a recalcitrant patient in a dentist's office. Even if the experience is not

going to be painful, it most certainly is not anticipated to be exciting or interesting. Being

primarily people oriented or pragmatically oriented, the criminal justice student expects to mildly

tolerate an experience that seems quite remote from the real-world practical, everyday problems in

criminal justice.

ISBN 0-558-58864-6

Research Methods in Criminal Justice and Criminology, Eighth Edition, by Frank E. Hagan. Published by Prentice Hall. Copyright © 2010 by Pearson Education, Inc

2 Chapter 1 • Introduction to Criminal Justice Research Methods

SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH IN CRIMINAL JUSTICE

Critics of many applications of scientific research to the criminal justice system view such efforts

as either elucidation of the irrelevant, obscure jargonizing, or academic intimidation-a detailed

elaboration of what any person with common sense knows. To make matters worse, all of these

efforts take place at a substantial cost, usually to the taxpayer, at a time when action-oriented

programs that really count are being cut back.

Some recent research findings are illustrative:

1. Females and the elderly fear crime because they are the most heavily victimized of all

groups.

2. Victims of crime seldom know or recognize their offenders.

3. Crime is rising by leaps and bounds and is at an all-time high.

4. The larger the city, the greater the likelihood that its residents will be victims of crime.

5. In general, residents of large cities believe that their police are doing a poor job.

6. African Americans and Hispanics are less likely than the population as a whole to report

personal crimes to the police.

7. Most residents of large cities think that their neighborhoods are not safe.

8. African Americans are overrepresented on death rows across the nation; however, this

overrepresentation is more pronounced in the South than in other regions.

9. Crime is an inevitable product of complex, populous, and industrialized societies.

10. White-collar crime is nonviolent.

11. Regulatory agencies prevent white-collar crime.

12. The insanity defense allows many dangerous offenders to escape conviction.

What could be more obvious than these findings? If anything, all that we have learned is that

Uncle Sam continues to waste tax money on useless studies. The real purpose of presenting these

findings was to make a point: Sometimes common sense is nonsense. Each of the preceding

statements is incorrect and represents a myth about crime (U.S. Department of Justice, 1978;

Wright, 1985; Pepinsky and Jesilow, 1992; Walker, 2005; and Bohm and Walker, 2006). The actual

findings were as follows:

1. Rates of victimization are higher for males than for females and for younger rather than for

older people.

2. In a large percentage of violent crimes, particularly domestic violence, victims know and

recognize their offenders.

3. Beginning in the early 1990s, crime has been declining in the United States.

4. The residents of smaller cities have higher rates than those of larger cities for certain

crimes such as assault, personal or household larceny, and residential burglary.

5. The opinions of residents of numerous cities across the nation indicate that the vast majority

is satisfied with the performance of their police; four out of five residents of the twenty-six

cities surveyed gave ratings of good or average.

6. Crimes committed against African Americans and Hispanics are just about as apt to be

reported as are crimes against victims in general.

7. Nine out of ten persons living in twenty-six large cities surveyed felt very or reasonably

safe when out alone in their neighborhoods during daytime. A majority (54 percent) felt

the same at night.

8. African American overrepresentation on death row is less pronounced in the South than in

other major regions of the country.

ISBN 0-558-58864-6

Research Methods in Criminal Justice and Criminology, Eighth Edition, by Frank E. Hagan. Published by Prentice Hall. Copyright © 2010 by Pearson Education, Inc

Chapter 1 • Introduction to Criminal Justice Research Methods 3

9. Crime is not a major concern in some developed countries, and in Japan it has actually

decreased in the post-World War II period (Clinard, 1978; Adler, 1983).

10. Unsafe work conditions and the marketing of unsafe products kill and maim more

Americans each year than street muggers and assailants (Hills, 1987).

11. Regulatory agencies have been understaffed, underfinanced, and inadequate in controlling

white-collar crime (Clinard and Yeager, 1979).

12. Despite media attention, insanity defense cases are rare; successful ones are even more

rare (Morris, 1987).

COMMON SENSE AND NONSENSE

A number of works attempt to tackle the commonsense issue head-on, such as Sense and

Nonsense about Crime and Drugs (Walker, 2005), Myths That Cause Crime (Pepinsky and

Jesilow, 1992), The Great American Crime Myth (Wright, 1985), and The Mythology of Crime

and Justice (Kappeler and Potter, 2005).

What was assumed to be obvious in our example appeared so after the results were

presented. If people agreed with the findings, they considered them obvious, whereas if they

disagreed, they viewed them as unscientific because common sense told them so. Hirschi and

Stark (1969) in "Hellfire and Delinquency" found a very weak relationship between church

attendance and nondelinquency. In speaking to a "damned if you do and damned if you don't"

phenomenon, they indicate that had they found a strong relationship as common sense would

have suggested, they would have been accused of wasting time on the obvious. Because

their study countered common sense, it was attacked as false, stupid, or an illustration of

inadequate methods.

Brown and Curtis (1987, p. 3) indicate that:

Many practitioners within criminal justice have met with repeated failure over the

years because they relied upon only their common sense. Thus, millions of dollars

have been spent on police patrol efforts that do not reduce crime, judicial practices

that are widely perceived as unfair, rehabilitation programs that do not rehabilitate

offenders and countless other failures.

In The Natural History of Nonsense (1958), Evans outlines numerous examples of

commonsense-nonsense issues that have hindered human progress. The beliefs that the earth

was flat and that it was the astrological center of the universe are but two of these examples. In

testimony before Congress, Herbert Simon, protesting threatened drastic cuts in funding for

social science research and in response to attacks on the social sciences as employing obscure

jargon and explicating the obvious or common sense, asserted that the common sense of the

social sciences is not a mirror of society but a result of research:

The social sciences are often discounted because much of what they learn seems to

be common sense. Well, it is common sense today to say that if you drop a feather

and a rock together in a vacuum, they will fall at the same pace. It was not common

sense before Galileo . . . [O]ne of the basic aims of the social sciences must be to

take knowledge that comes out of the laboratory-knowledge that may be stated in

language that is hard to understand-and make it part of the common sense of our

society. (Prewitt and Sills, 1981, p. 6)

ISBN 0-558-58864-6

Research Methods in Criminal Justice and Criminology, Eighth Edition, by Frank E. Hagan. Published by Prentice Hall. Copyright © 2010 by Pearson Education, Inc

4 Chapter 1 • Introduction to Criminal Justice Research Methods

Many of the terms used in everyday conversation originated in social science research;

however, little credit is given for these theoretical accomplishments because the discoveries,

once labeled, were quickly absorbed into conventional wisdom.

In an essay celebrating twenty-five years of criminal justice research sponsored by the

National Institute of Justice (the research arm of the U.S. Department of Justice), Blumstein and

Petersilia (1994, p. 36) state:

When compared to the public debate about these issues, which is still often focused

on ideological issues and simplistic solutions to complex problems, it is clear that the

thinking resulting from research, backed up by strong evidence, is very sophisticated,

but it still has a long way to go to become an important part of the public debate.

Researchers must also remember that the revolution in thinking brought about

by Galileo and Copernicus took far longer than twenty-five years to become widely

diffused to European thinking.

The most interesting phenomenon about those who propose a commonsensical approach

to criminal justice is that the debunker often simply substitutes his or her own subjective biases

and experience for the more scientific approach found lacking. Wilkins addresses those who

argue the antiscientific view (wherein each individual is unique and defies measurement and

prediction):

The objection states that prediction is useless (or dangerous?) because the individual

is unique. Prediction is said to be either (or both) impossible or undesirable,

and this argument rests on the complexity of human relationship . . . If the case is

unique, what experience can the clinician use to guide him? . . . Statistical experience

can be based on samples of the population which we know to be unbiased.

A clinician has only his own sample to guide him with no guarantee of its lack of

bias. . . . If these features are "intangible," how can we know that they exist? How

in fact does the clinician take them into account? Can they not be described in

words? If not, are they more than the prejudices of the observer? (Wilkins, 1978,

pp. 233-236)

As we will see in Chapter 9, verbal descriptions of phenomena are not much different than

numerical measures of some entity; the latter simply force the analyst to be more precise and

rigorous, while thinking through the concept under study in a more disciplined manner. Thus,

common sense and experience certainly serve important functions in sensitizing us to a subject.

However, our separate experiences might better be viewed as limited case studies of a subject

matter that may not be entirely generalizable to the universe of such subjects or as observations

that may be limited by time, place, and the subjective biases of the observer.

In addition to common sense as a rival explanation to science, there are other competing

sources of knowledge. Authorities or experts are sources, but sometimes they are simply

wrong. Tradition (past authorities) may also mislead us. Currently, the media represent a very

powerful source of information on crime, but their portrayals may not reflect reality and

often aim to entertain or gain revenue rather than to inform. Related to the commonsense

approach to research, but of vital importance in criminal justice, are the questions "So what?"

and "Of what practical use are these findings?" These subjects will be discussed in detail in

Chapter 11.

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Research Methods in Criminal Justice and Criminology, Eighth Edition, by Frank E. Hagan. Published by Prentice Hall. Copyright © 2010 by Pearson Education, Inc

Chapter 1 • Introduction to Criminal Justice Research Methods 5

WHY STUDY RESEARCH METHODS IN CRIMINAL JUSTICE?

Rather than viewing certain elementary research concepts and procedures in scientific methodology

as foreign elements, the criminal justice professional may, once he or she has mastered them,

discover very valuable tools for assessing current and future directions in the field.

Once familiar with these tools, much of the anxious sanctimony bestowed upon technical

reports, academic concepts, and research findings can be dispensed with. Many readers of this text

have a healthy cynicism or critical and suspicious approach to research findings and probably

know and employ more about research methodology than they are aware. In most cases, they

simply lack conceptual frameworks, scientifically acceptable tags, or sufficient knowledge of the

language of research methods to defend their views in an appropriate manner. Research methods

provide the tools necessary to approach issues in criminal justice from a more rigorous standpoint

and enable a venture beyond opinions based solely on nonscientific observations and experiences

(see Black, 1993).

Although many readers may never undertake their own research, all will be consumers or

recipients of findings and policies based upon research. It is not unusual to find students as well as

professionals in criminal justice who are unable to fully understand reports and journal articles in

their own field. Other fields may have this same problem: however, one might certainly be wary of

a surgeon who is performing an operation without an understanding of the latest article on the

procedure in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Similarly, in striving for

professional status, it is imperative that criminologists and criminal justice professionals

comprehend and critically evaluate new developments in their field (Hagan, 1975). Mastery of this

material will assist in this endeavor. A very interesting outcome upon completion of the material is

that many find themselves carefully reading and interpreting the tables presented in studies and

skipping much of the prose. This procedure, which reverses the usual pattern at the beginning of the

course, results in a great economy of time and effort.

An analogy can be drawn between learning research methods and studying to become

a movie director or critic (Tontodonato and Hagan, 1998). A movie director or critic cannot

simply view a film and report, "You just have to see it." They must be more concerned with

technique. What is the plot? Who are the heroes/heroines/villains? From what point of view is

the story told: first person or third person? What was the denouement? Research methodologists

are also interested in ransacking studies and breaking them down into essentials. What are the

research design and hypothesis? What data-gathering procedures were employed? What

were the independent and dependent variables? What type of data analysis and conclusions were

made regarding the null hypotheses? Upon completing this book, it is hoped that the student will

become prolific in being an active consumer of research.

Much of what appears in this text as research methods in criminology and criminal justice

is not unique to criminal justice but is borrowed from the other social sciences and applied to

criminal justice topics and examples. The techniques are applicable to a wide variety of areas and

in that sense are excellent broad-based skills.

THE EMERGENCE OF SCIENCE AND CRIMINAL JUSTICE

Humankind's long stride toward understanding and explaining the universe might be viewed as

a marathon that has accelerated into a 100-yard dash in the past two centuries. In an attempt

to provide a stage for our purposes and avoid philosophical discourses which could occupy far

too much time for our purposes, this development can be described succinctly. Human beings,

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Research Methods in Criminal Justice and Criminology, Eighth Edition, by Frank E. Hagan. Published by Prentice Hall. Copyright © 2010 by Pearson Education, Inc

6 Chapter 1 • Introduction to Criminal Justice Research Methods

through the creation of symbols or abstractions such as language, are able to develop knowledge.

Knowledge is what people create symbolically to represent reality.

Knowledge might also be viewed as our presently accepted level of ignorance. There is no

guarantee that what one historical generation considers to be a wise policy or procedure will not

be considered ignorant by the next generation. Less than 100 years ago, "feebleminded" persons

were locked up permanently for the protection of society because "feeblemindedness causes

crime" (McCaghy, 1999, p. 10). Not long before that, the physically ill were bled to "cure" their

illness. At present, these methods are considered ignorant and even detrimental. It is important to

recognize the changes in methods between the present day and 100 years ago.

The early French sociologist Auguste Comte described the "progression of knowledge as

being one from predominantly theological or supernatural explanations of reality to metaphysical

or philosophical ones and finally to scientific approaches" (Comte, 1877). Rather than looking to

otherworldly explanations, philosophy sought explanations in worldly events through a new spirit

of inquiry-rationality and logical explanation. Science combined this spirit of rational explanation

with method-empiricism, experimentation, or what has come to be called the scientific method.

The scientific orientation emphasized observation, measurement, replication (repetition of observation),

and verification (checking on the validity of observations). Science subjects ideas or theories

to tests through observation, quantification, and empirical analysis. Unlike the philosopher's often

sole reliance on logic and argumentative reasoning, all scientists can be said to be from Missouri,

the "Show Me" state. Replication is the repetition of experiments or studies utilizing the same

methodology. Verification is confirmation of the accuracy of findings or attainment of greater

certitude in conclusions through additional observations.

Systematic application of the scientific method to research problems provided major breakthroughs

in the development of knowledge. While the scientific era has enabled mankind to take giant

strides in explaining and harnessing physical reality, more recently the social sciences, of which

criminal justice is a progeny, have attempted to apply these same procedures to their subject matters-

society, human behavior, politics, or, of concern in our enterprise, crime and criminal justice.

Because we have gained mastery over more simple and more controllable physical reality,

why, as intelligent humans, is it not possible to gain the same explanation, prediction, and control

over such recurring social phenomena as crime, violence, and their many ramifications?

Criminology and criminal justice as interdisciplinary disciplines draw upon many fields,

both academic and applied, and, in terms of appropriate research methodology, have not only

borrowed and adapted but have made many of their own contributions as will be presented

throughout this book. Whether criminal justice is a science is argued even by practitioners within

the field. Criminal justice researchers, unlike physical scientists, find their subject matter a topic

of popular discussion in which the layperson's experience is viewed as just as good a guide to

policy as that of the researcher. The same people who would not dream of arguing about

molecules, atomic weights, or quasars feel quite qualified to address issues of crime and

punishment. In this writer's view, the appropriate employment of scientific methodology and

procedure qualifies a discipline to claim scientific status. Although this topic is certainly worthy

of debate elsewhere, the approach throughout this text is a very pragmatic one-we are employing

scientific procedures and therefore contributing to the development of a young science.

THE PROBABILISTIC NATURE OF SCIENCE

As social scientists, criminologists and criminal justice researchers assume that the subject matter

they study is probabilistic-that is, they believe that effects will most often occur when certain

causes are present, but not in every single case. In predicting general patterns, trends, and

Replication

Verification

Science

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Research Methods in Criminal Justice and Criminology, Eighth Edition, by Frank E. Hagan. Published by Prentice Hall. Copyright © 2010 by Pearson Education, Inc

Chapter 1 • Introduction to Criminal Justice Research Methods 7

relationships among groups, social scientists do not expect these patterns to hold in each individual

case or do not expect absolute determinism. If researchers show a relationship between rising

unemployment rates and suicide rates, they are not assumed or considered to be wrong if the newly

unemployed do not commit suicide. Researchers do attempt to estimate the probability of their

predictions being accurate. For example, there is an 85 percent chance that a savings and loan thief

such as Charles Keating will be white, upper-middle class, and a college graduate.

PROPER CONDUCT OF CRITICAL INQUIRY

Bayley (1978) offers three suggestions for improving criminal justice research:

1. Research requires interdisciplinary efforts as well as the tackling of field-oriented, practical

problems.

2. Researchers should cease giving speeches to practitioners about the value of research and

attack their practical concerns with a realistic appraisal of error proneness of any research

endeavor.

3. It is time to be done with "methodological narcissism," methods for methods' sake.

The latter is aptly illustrated by the well-known Martinson Report, which was published

in the early 1970s. Martinson (1974) raised quite a storm in the field of corrections when, based

on his evaluation of rehabilitation programs throughout the United States, he concluded that

none of these programs reduced recidivism or rehabilitated clients. Later, in retracting his own

previously devastating "almost nothing works" critique of corrections research, Martinson

(1978, p. 4) advised that it was time to avoid "methodological fanaticism" (what Bayley called

"methodological narcissism"), in which substance is overlooked in the name of method.

Preferred rigor in research design is seldom realized in criminal justice field studies. This does

not justify throwing out "the baby with the bath water." Instead, such problems represent

challenges to the criminal justice researcher, rather than a justification for self-defeating

pessimism and methodological capitulation.

Hirschi and Selvin give sound advice to those either doing research or criticizing the research

of others. The proper conduct of critical inquiry requires that "those concerned with good research

should be objective and vigilant as well as sympathetic" (Hirschi and Selvin, 1973, pp. 273-274).

Objectivity entails value neutrality or a dispassionate approach to the subject matter that holds

constant personal bias (Weber, 1949). Vigilance involves a concern for accuracy and efforts to

eliminate error. Error, however, is ever present in research. The only perfect research is no research,

which suggests the last point: empathy. In critiquing the research of others, empathy or a willingness

to put oneself in the role of the researcher is important. If a student of research is afraid of

making errors in research, then he or she probably should do none, because error is omnipresent.

In criticizing other research, one often need not go far to find some error. The question is not

whether errors are present, but, rather, whether reasonable attempts were made to acknowledge

and/or eliminate the most obvious errors. Only when such errors so grossly compromise the

accuracy of findings and conclusions thereof, should one scathingly attack other research.

APPROACHES TO THEORY AND METHOD IN CRIMINAL JUSTICE

Theory in criminal justice represents an attempt to develop plausible explanations of reality,

which in this case is crime and the criminal justice system. Theory attempts to classify and

organize events, to explain the causes of events, to predict the direction of future events, and

to understand why and how these events occur (Turner, 1997, p. 2). It represents a reasonable

Methodological

narcissism

Theory

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Research Methods in Criminal Justice and Criminology, Eighth Edition, by Frank E. Hagan. Published by Prentice Hall. Copyright © 2010 by Pearson Education, Inc

8 Chapter 1 • Introduction to Criminal Justice Research Methods

and informed guess as to why things are as they appear and to explain their underlying nature

and meaning. Kraska (2006, pp.167-168) explains:

It [theory] defines the parameters for how we think about our objects of study, and

provides us with the lenses through which we filter our subject matter in order to

make sense of complex phenomena. It gives us our organizing concepts, frames our

research questions, guides our scholarly interpretations, and is an unavoidable

presence in crime control policy, practice and decision-making.

Much criminological theory possesses a global or sensitizing quality that alerts us to critical

issues but often lacks the quality of formally testable, scientifically verifiable propositions.

Without the generation of useful theoretical explanations, a field is intellectually bankrupt; it

becomes merely a collection of war stories and carefully documented encyclopedic accounts. It

fails to explain, summarize, or capture the essential nature of its subject matter. Theory asks: What

is the point of all of this? What does it mean? Why are things this way? Willis (1983), in a review

of twenty-five criminal justice textbooks, noted almost a "trained incapacity" or unwillingness to

deal with theoretical issues and a tendency to concentrate on what fictional character Joe Friday,

in the old television series Dragnet, called "just the facts."

In The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Thomas Kuhn (1970) describes how the evolution

of new knowledge, rather than being slow and incremental, is often dependent upon new paradigms

that may stand previous assumptions on their heads. A paradigm is "some implicit body of

intertwined theoretical and methodological belief that permits selection, evaluation, and criticism"

(ibid., pp. 16-17). A new paradigm represents a new model or revolutionary schema with which to

view reality. Paradigms organize reality by giving structure, framework, and perspective from

which to investigate reality. Kuhn viewed scientific knowledge as achieving breakthroughs by

revolutions fueled by the inability to explain anomalies by means of the existing scientific tradition.

The old paradigm (normal science) is made obsolete by the new paradigm through this process of

revolution. In a related phenomenon, sometimes new knowledge takes place or is discovered by

a process of serendipity, a wholly unanticipated and surprising discovery. In the process of doing

research on one topic, a discovery is made that addresses some different topic. Copernicus and

Galileo put astronomy upside down with their discovery that the earth was not the center of the

universe. In archeology, the pre-Clovis paradigm challenged the prevailing estimate of human

habitation in the Americas. Exhibit 1.1 describes the paradigm shift in policing.

Edwin Sutherland's concept of "white-collar crime" (1940) serves as an example of a

paradigm revolution in criminology, a radical reorientation in theoretical views of the nature of

criminality. After Sutherland, crime was no longer viewed solely as an activity of the underclass.

Copernicus' astronomical theory of the universe made totally irrelevant the previous paradigm of

astrology. Walker 6th ed. (2005, p. 76) indicates:

Finally, Kuhn's perspective cautions adherents of the prevailing paradigm to recognize

that there is nothing permanent or timeless about their viewpoint. This paradigm, which

organizes their thinking, research, and policy proposals, was the product of a scientific

revolution that replaced an earlier paradigm. Science, however, like time, marches on.

We cannot predict what kind of scientific revolution lies in the future and will overthrow

the assumptions shared by virtually everyone reading this article.

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Research Methods in Criminal Justice and Criminology, Eighth Edition, by Frank E. Hagan. Published by Prentice Hall. Copyright © 2010 by Pearson Education, Inc

Chapter 1 • Introduction to Criminal Justice Research Methods 9

Methodology (methods), on the other hand, involves the collection of accurate facts

and/or data regarding the nature of crime and criminal justice policy. In short, while theory

addresses the issue "why," methodology concerns itself with "what is." There usually exists in

any field a certain division between those who are primarily interested in generating theory and

who view their efforts as classical scholarship akin to philosophy and those (methodologists)

who are viewed as technical and scientific in their approach. In speaking to criminology's

EXHIBIT 1.1

The Paradigm Shift in Policing

Methodology

Blankenship and Brown (1993) claim that the

criminological literature typically refers to competing

theories as paradigms. A paradigm shift of sorts

has occurred in American policing beginning with

the "Kansas City Preventive Patrol" experiment

(Kelling et al., 1998) which will be discussed in detail

later in Chapter 3. Conducted in the early seventies,

police administrators were at first astounded to find

that neither increases nor decreases in police patrol

seemed to affect the crime rate, public fear of crime,

or public satisfaction with the police. Rapid response

to calls for service and preventive patrol had been to

inviolate doctrines until then. Rather than viewing

such findings as negative, police executives

discovered they had a lot more discretion than they

had anticipated in deploying their forces. Under the

"rapid response to service paradigm" police spent

most of their time rushing to the scene of calls for

service despite the fact that most people waited half

an hour after an event was discovered to report the

crime to the police. Preventive patrol seldom came

upon crimes in progress. Being busy with patrol and

answering calls, the police had little time to

investigate trivial matters.

In a classic article entitled "Broken

Windows," James Q. Wilson and George Kelling

(1982) proposed a radically different paradigm.

Kelling et al. (1998) indicates:

Just as unrepaired broken windows can

signal to people that nobody cares about a

building and lead to more serious vandalism,

untended property, disorderly persons, drunks,

obstreperous youth, etc.-both create fear in

citizens and attract predators.

Neighborhood disregard, drunks, panhandlers,

youth gangs, and other "trivial" incivilities unsettle

a community and produce fear and disrupt the

life of a neighborhood. The large decrease in

crime in New York City in the nineties was attributed

in part to a new policing paradigm emphasizing

community policing and zero tolerance for previously

ignored aggressive panhandlers, subway turnstile

hoppers, vagrants, and those involved in disorderly

conduct. Enforcing the previously ignored small things

gave police a better handle on crime (Kelling and

Wilson, 1999).

Discussion of the "Crime Dip" later in Chapter 4

will examine other reasons for the decline in crime.

Harcourt in Illusions of Order: The False Promise of

Broken Windows Policing (2001) and Taylor in

Breaking Away from Broken Windows (2001) question

the "Broken Windows Paradigm." They point out that

crime had already begun to decline in New York before

Chief William Bratton introduced the broken windows

policy and declined just as drastically in cities such as

San Diego that never used the strategy. Similarly,

Karmen in New York Murder Mystery: The True Story

Behind the Crime Crash of the 1990s (2001) credited

the end of crack dealer turf wars for much of the

decline (see Miller, 2001).

Sources: Kuhn, Thomas. The Structure of Scientific

Revolutions. 2nd ed. Chicago: University of Chicago

Press, 1970. Kelling, George A. "Police and Communities:

The Quiet Revolution." Perspectives in Policing. National

Institute of Justice, June 1998. XXXXX, XXXXX Q. and

George L. Kelling. "Broken Windows: The Police and

Neighborhood Safety." The Atlantic Monthly (March,

1982): 27-28.

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Research Methods in Criminal Justice and Criminology, Eighth Edition, by Frank E. Hagan. Published by Prentice Hall. Copyright © 2010 by Pearson Education, Inc

10 Chapter 1 • Introduction to Criminal Justice Research Methods

fascination if not obsession with preferred statistical fads and methodological tools and

techniques at the expense of theory, Sampson and Laub (2005, p. 911) indicate:

The bigger problem is that criminology seems obsessed with tools rather than

keeping its eye on the prize. Indeed we worry less about groups being reified than the

methods themselves; when methods rule we focus on the fundamental processes

that explain crime and its persistence and cessation over the life course. For us, the

botXXXXX XXXXXne of sound research design and basic scientific inquiry is that methods

are inextricably linked to, and the servant of theory.

Good criminal justice requires both. Theory devoid of method-explanation without

accurate supportive data-is just as much a ritualistic dead end as method devoid of theory.

The former resembles armchair theorizing, while the latter resembles a fruitless bookkeeping

operation. Both theory and method should be viewed as a means to an end, the end being

sound criminal justice knowledge.

PURE VERSUS APPLIED RESEARCH

Pure (basic) research is concerned with the acquisition of new knowledge for the sake of science

or the development of the field, whereas applied research is practical research concerned with

solving immediate policy problems. Although we addressed the issue of common sense briefly by

means of "myths of crime," there still exists the broader issue: Criminal justice has experienced

conflict between two camps, the applied practitioner and the nonapplied academic. Although this

division is in part stereotypical, as mutual exclusivity is not in fact the case with these groups, for

heuristic purposes we consider these as "ideal types."1 Being on the front lines of the criminal

justice system, practitioners are most interested in applied research, studies, and findings that

speak directly to policy issues. Academics, on the other hand, are more concerned with pure

research, which may have no immediate applicability but contributes to the knowledge base and

scientific development of the discipline. Although the practitioner may view the pure scientific

researcher as off in a closeted ivory tower or a likely candidate for former Senator Proxmire's

Golden Fleece Award for irrelevant research,2 the pure scientific researcher may view many of the

policy recommendations of applied research as shamanism, or quackery, an attempt to give advice

or guide policy without adequate theoretical or methodological support. In speaking to the issue of

premature application, Friedman (1980) puts it succinctly: "If you eat the cookies before they are

ready you can get sick."

In reality, neither pure nor applied research fits these neat stereotypical views (Rabow,

1964). Some of the most apparently obscure and abstract research projects may produce the

critical discoveries that in the long run produce more applied payoffs than hundreds of premature

applied projects. On the other hand, many existing projects require informed decisions, which,

although not perfect or entirely supported by research findings, represent the best we have to

offer at the time. A study of state correctional agency practitioners (Light and Newman, 1992)

Pure research

Applied

research

1Weber (1949) viewed "ideal types" as useful analytic devices that extract pure or overgeneralized elements of a reality, but

seldom exist in pure form. Wilson's (1968) "Watchman," "Service," and "Legalistic" styles of policing are an illustration.

2 In the late 1970s, the late Senator William Proxmire attracted considerable publicity by presenting awards to governmentsponsored

research projects with esoteric titles that he viewed as irrelevant. Proxmire was the subject of an $8 million libel

and slander suit by experimental psychologist Dr. Ronald R. Hutchinson as a result of his being identified as a recipient. See

"Golden Fleece Suit Reaches Supreme Court," Footnotes, American Sociological Association 7 (May 1979): 5.

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Chapter 1 • Introduction to Criminal Justice Research Methods 11

found that while such practitioners strongly supported social science research, they reported

using it very little in comparison with other types of information and knowledge.

Many of the major and important scientific discoveries of ancient and modern times were

made not by the kings' wizards commissioned to immediately perform alchemy or other applied

magic, but by abstract "tinkers"-Galileo, Copernicus, Einstein, and Pasteur. What is regarded as

renegade, pure, and ivory-tower research of one epoch often finds itself the basis for important

applied breakthroughs in the next. As mentioned previously, in the late 1970s, in an attempt to point

out wasteful government funding of "irrelevant" research projects, Senator Proxmire periodically

would publicize and give his infamous Golden Fleece Award. To the layperson, obscure-sounding

studies such as "The Sex Life and Mating Habits of Bees in the Upper Amazon Basin" appear to be

projects deserving of derision and attack until at a later date scientists speculate that "killer bees" that

are resistant to existing chemical insecticides may invade North America and result in human deaths.

An excellent example of a basic research project is the Project on Human Development in

Chicago Neighborhoods (Visher, 1994) (see Exhibit 1.2).

This study represents the efforts of over 100 scientists representing the fields of

pediatrics, biology, psychology, sociology, and criminology (NIJ, 1997). Begun in 1989, the

EXHIBIT 1.2

The Project on Human Development: An Accelerated Longitudinal Design Using

Nine Spaced-Age Cohorts

researchers headed by Albert Reiss, Jr. (Yale) and Felton

Earls (Harvard) conducted the study and examined

everything from gestation, infancy, and childhood to

adulthood to age thirty-two. Such a prospective design

would usually have taken thirty-two years; but the

unique feature of the research design, an accelerated

Being the largest longitudinal study ever undertaken in

criminal justice/criminology, NIJ's Project of Human

Development in Chicago Neighborhoods was unprecedented

in scope. It examined a broad range of factors

at the community, family, and individual level that were

believed predictors of crime and deviance. A team of

Subject Age Birth

Age at Enrollment in Study

1,000 Males

1,000 Females

500 Males Retrospective Data

500 Females

Prenatal

3

6

9

12

15

18

21

24

5 10 15

5-Year

Overlap

20 25 30

FIGURE 1 Project on Human Development, Accelerated Longitudinal Design 2002-Completion

of Study. (Source: Visher, 1994, p. 13.)

(continued)

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Research Methods in Criminal Justice and Criminology, Eighth Edition, by Frank E. Hagan. Published by Prentice Hall. Copyright © 2010 by Pearson Education, Inc.

12 Chapter 1 • Introduction to Criminal Justice Research Methods

FIGURE 2 Project on Human Development: The Contents and Factors to Be Studied. (Source: Visher,

1994, p. 14.)

longitudinal design depicted in Figure 1, sped up the

timetable.

Between 1994 and 2002, the investigators

gathered detailed data about 11,000 individuals and

their communities. A preliminary five-year planning

phase and the accelerated longitudinal design

provided data much more quickly than the standard

longitudinal design. Overlapping age cohorts were

studied, each with five-year overlap periods, thus

mimicking a thirty-two year longitudinal study. Figure 2

describes the key variable examined in the research.

Data collection began in Chicago in August

1994. During the past three years, exploratory studies

of topics and methods took place and research

protocols were pretested. Subjects and their families

were interviewed across the nine age cohorts.

Support from a variety of community organizations

was solicited particularly in investigating mental

health, child development, and substance abuse. It

was hoped that the multidisciplinary approach

integrating community, family, school, peer, and

individual characteristics would do much to advance

our understanding of crime causation and in

developing future crime control policy.

Despite the fact that crime is considered one of

the major U.S. social problems, federal funding for

criminal justice research has been meager. For example,

a 1988 study by the National Science Foundation (NSF)

found that per capita expenditures for research

in health ($432), energy ($11), space ($19), transportation

($4), environment ($4), agriculture ($3),

education ($2), and commerce ($0.53) greatly

exceeded the criminal justice research funding of $0.13

(NSF, 1988). Furthermore, the domestic research

commitment of $21 million for NIJ in 1989 ($100.6

million in 1997) was substantially below the

$229 million for the National Eye Institute, the

$167 million for the National Endowment for the Arts,

the $140 million for the National Endowment for the

Humanities, and the $127 million for the National

(continued)

School conflict

Teacher-student relationships

Strengths and weaknesses

of the school environment

Peer Relationships

Composition and size

of social network

Substance abuse and

delinquency by peers

Deviant and prosocial

attitudes of peers

Location of peer networks

(school or community)

Changes in peer relationships

over time

The Family

Family structure

Parent-child relationships

Parent disciplinary

practices

Parent characteristics

Family mental health

Family history of criminal

behavior and substance

abuse

The Individual

Physical and mental health

status

Impulse control and

sensation-seeking traits

Cognitive and language

development

Ethnic identity and

acculturation

Leisure-time activities

Self-perception, attitude,

and values

The Community

Social, economic, and

demographic structure

Organizational/political

structure

Community standards

and norms

Informal social control

Crime, victimization,

and arrests

Social cohesion

Residential turnover

Level of involvement

in drug and gang

networks

The School

Academic achievement

expectations

School policies regarding

social control

EXHIBIT 1.2 (Continued)

Chapter 1 • Introduction to Criminal Justice Research Methods 13

project involved an ongoing, overlapping, longitudinal (studies over time) analysis of 8,000

residents of 343 Chicago neighborhoods from birth to age thirty-two. The subjects were

tracked for several years while examining their development in an effort to determine

how family and neighborhood factors influence criminal behavior. Exhibit 1.3 provides an

example of applied research-crime analysis. Examples of applied research will be featured in

EXHIBIT 1.3

Crime Analysis: Applied Criminal Justice Research

Institute for Dental Research (Petersilia, 1991).

Despite the limited funding provided for criminological

research, the potential of the research to aid in public

policy decisions is clearly shown by the work that has

been completed (Sherman et al., 1997).

Sources: Visher, Christy A. "Understanding the Roots of

Crime: The Project on Human Development in Chicago

Neighborhoods." National Institute of Justice Journal.

November 1994: 9-15; Interim reports can be

obtained from: The Project on Human Development

in Chicago Neighborhoods, Harvard School of Public

Health, Department of Maternal and Child Health,

677 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02115. The

project has its own updated Web site: http://phdcn/

Steven Gottlieb, Sheldon Arenberg, and Raj Singh's

Crime Analysis (1994) is the classic work in the

burgeoning applied research field of crime analysis.

They make the distinction between four types of

law enforcement analysis (ibid., pp. 11-12):

Crime analysis allows the analyst to

determine who's doing what to whom by its

focus on crimes against persons and property

(homicide, rape, robbery, burglary, theft, etc.).

Crime analysis can be defined as systematic,

analytic processes aimed at providing practical

information related to crime patterns. It often

involves providing trend correlations to assist

in management and in the solving and prevention

of crime. The functions of crime analysis

include (ibid., pp. 15-16):

Identification of crime patterns

Crime forecasting

Target profile analysis

Provision of investigative leads

Provision of support data to community

policing and crime prevention programs

Assistance in case clearance

Support for departmental planning activities

Analysis of operational data for departmental

planning

The growing use of crime analysis by police

departments and federal agencies will be featured

in later exhibits in this book.

Intelligence analysis aids the determination

of who's doing what with whom by its

focus on the relationships between persons and

organizations involved in illegal-and usually

conspiratorial-activities (narcotics trafficking,

prostitution rings, organized crime, gangs,

terrorism, etc.).

Operations analysis enables the analyst to

ascertain how the agency is using its internal

resources by its focus on the examination of

personnel deployment and workload distribution

patterns.

Investigative analysis is an exceedingly

specialized type of analysis that is frequently used in

the investigation of unusual or serial homicide cases.

This form of analysis uses crime scene evidence

and information regarding the background of

victims to develop physical, behavioral, and psychological

profiles of the suspect(s) responsible for the

crime(s).

Source: Gottlieb, Steven, Sheldon Arenberg, and Raj Singh.

Crime Analysis: From First Report to Final Arrest. Montclair,

CA: Alpha Publishing, 1994.

EXHIBIT 1.2 (Continued )

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Research Methods in Criminal Justice and Criminology, Eighth Edition, by Frank E. Hagan. Published by Prentice Hall. Copyright © 2010 by Pearson Education, Inc

 

Customer: replied 2 years ago.

14 Chapter 1 • Introduction to Criminal Justice Research Methods

subsequent chapters in this book, including crime profiling, crime analysis, crime mapping,

and statement analysis, as well as many other studies that are specifically undertaken in order

to address immediate policy needs.

Evaluation research, which will be discussed in detail in Chapter 11, is a branch of applied

research that examines public programs and policies. Do programs work? How well do they

work? How can they be made to work better? These are some of the questions asked in evaluation

research.

The 1967 report of the President's Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration

of Justice called for creating a research program in criminal justice at the federal level. In 1968,

the National Institute of Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice, now called National Institute

of Justice (NIJ), was created. Prior to this, the U.S. Department of Justice had no

research and development program. Doris MacKenzie (1998, p. 3) explains the inadequacy of

the effort:

When this nation wants to win wars, excel in the race to conquer space, or improve

conditions for our rural populations, we put money into research. Perhaps one of the

largest reasons criminal justice research has not reached the achievements of other

fields is the limited funding given to research activities.

QUALITATIVE AND QUANTITATIVE RESEARCH

In quantitative research, concepts are assigned numerical value, whereas in qualitative

research, concepts are viewed as sensitizing ideas or terms that enhance our understanding.

Research methods in the social sciences, of which criminal justice is heir, have followed two

basic philosophical traditions. The first legacy reflects a historical, intuitive, or observational

approach and suggests that the physical and social sciences are distinct entities.3 It emphasizes a

qualitative approach to understanding the reality under investigation. Classic sociologist Weber

described it as a Verstehen (in German, understanding or empathy), in which researchers hope

to immerse themselves in the subject matter and develop "sensitizing concepts" that enhance

their understanding and explanation of reality (Weber, 1949). Many field studies and participant

observation studies, in which the researcher lives with and experiences a group's way of life from

the group's perspective, serve as examples. This grounded theory approach enables a shifting of

gears to focus upon issues that were not previously assumed to be of importance at the time of

the beginning of the project.

Positivism, a natural science approach, is often used to describe the second legacy. This

empirical orientation suggests that the same approach applicable to studying and explaining

physical reality can be used in the social sciences. This second tradition is a quantitative

approach and is concerned with measuring social or, in our case, criminal justice reality. While

qualitative research emphasizes a verstehen approach in which researchers immerse themselves

in the subject matter and develop empathetic understanding, the quantitative approach favors

studying "phenomena that can be measured, observed, ‘objectified' and examined empirically"

(Worrall, 2000, p. 359). Although both legacies as pure ideal types may represent dead ends

in criminal justice research, moderate expressions of either of these strategies have, as we will

discover in Chapter 3, a role in enhancing our understanding of criminal justice. An extreme

3 The qualitative approach is illustrated by such writers as Weber (1949), Garfinkel (1967), and Blumer (1969) and by

groups that advocate "symbolic interactionism" or "ethnomethodology."

Quantitative

research

Qualitative

research

Verstehen

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Research Methods in Criminal Justice and Criminology, Eighth Edition, by Frank E. Hagan. Published by Prentice Hall. Copyright © 2010 by Pearson Education, Inc

Chapter 1 • Introduction to Criminal Justice Research Methods 15

Historicism

Scientism

Research

shock

Researchese

Concepts

qualitative approach would provide historicism-seeing all social events as a distinct chronicle

of unique happenings. This would involve a denial that any scientific generalities could be drawn

from the world of human events. Such a stance is antiscientific. On the other polar extreme is

scientism or extreme positivism, in which the researcher takes the stance that "if you cannot

measure it, it is not worth studying or commenting on." Although historicism may jade those

from the traditional humanities in their view of criminal justice as a discipline, scientism is

most often the orientation of physical scientists, who may view fields such as criminal justice as

a pretender to the scientific throne or one of a score of "Johnny-come-lately" pseudosciences.

Such physical scientists may feel that unless criminal justice or social science researchers can

attain the same rigorous control over the conditions of study as in the physical sciences, they

are somehow involved in an inferior enterprise, an amateur imitation of real science. Obviously,

social phenomena cannot be put in a test tube or maze.

Criminal justice as an emergent, interdisciplinary, applied scientific field requires for its

mature development a full array of qualitative and quantitative approaches, pure and applied

research efforts, and theoretically incisive as well as methodologically sound studies and evaluations

to gain the academic respectability it both aspires to and deserves.

RESEARCHESE: THE LANGUAGE OF RESEARCH

Sprechen Sie Researchese? To the uninitiated, the language of research is almost like being

exposed to a foreign language. How often have we heard a frustrated reader of a report say, in

despair and disgust: "Why don't these people write in English?" This common reaction might

even be described, to coin a phrase, as research shock-a sense of disorientation experienced by

a person when suddenly confronted with an unfamiliar style of presentation and research

language. What one is reacting to is not complexity or the unlearnable, but merely the unfamiliar.

Those of you who are in-service, criminal justice professionals or who have taken only a few

courses in criminology or criminal justice, soon discover that you have accumulated much of the

specialized language of the field. When you use this argot around others not in the field you may

be surprised that others are unaware of these terms. This, incidentally, explains why many

occupational groups cling together socially because others cannot fully appreciate their jargon or

ideology. It also explains why many spouses at parties request in despair, "Please stop talking

shop!" So, even though at first much of the terminology seems clumsy, stick with it, and by the

completion of this text, you too will be able to read, write, and think researchese (the language

of research). Researchese is a valuable international language and a useful tool for negotiating

and understanding the latest literature in your field.

The notion of causality, a complex subject in philosophy, is the very essence of scientific

inquiry. Science assumes that elements of reality can be isolated, defined, explained, and predicted-

that science holds the key to unlocking the mysteries of the ages. Scientific investigation assumes

that causal principles and laws underlie reality and that by discovering these elements, science can

predict and control reality (Wilkins, 1976). This process begins by naming things.

Concepts

Concepts are abstract tags put on reality and are the beginning point in all scientific endeavors. Not

to be confused with reality itself, concepts are symbolic human creations or constructs that attempt

to capture the essence of reality. In deciding on a name for some phenomenon, we are attempting to

describe, understand, classify, or become more sensitized to some element of reality. Examples

of concepts that are used in criminological and criminal justice studies include crime, recidivism,

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Research Methods in Criminal Justice and Criminology, Eighth Edition, by Frank E. Hagan. Published by Prentice Hall. Copyright © 2010 by Pearson Education, Inc.

16 Chapter 1 • Introduction to Criminal Justice Research Methods

cynicism, intelligence, risk on parole, defendant's appearance, and police patrol. Age, sex, race,

religion, and social class are other concepts with which we are quite familiar. Concepts may be

viewed as qualitative, sensitizing/global notions, or they can be converted into variables through

operationalization.

Operationalization

Operationalization defines concepts by describing how they will be measured. Working definition

or operational definition are other terms used to refer to this process. The notion of operationalization

can be defined in response to the statement: "I measured it by." Completion of this sentence

constitutes the operationalization of the concept. This process of operationalization has now

quantified (assigned numerical values to) a concept and converted it from an abstract, verbal entity

to a measurable quantity or variable.

Variables

Variables are concepts that have been operationalized or concepts that can vary or take on

different values of a quantitative nature. They are the mortar and brick of scientific investigation.

Theoretically, variables can be of a qualitative nature. For example, qualitative distinctions could

be made regarding a person's age (old or young), but the measurement of actual chronological

age would be considered more exact. Crime may be operationalized in a study as having been

measured by official police statistics, surveys of victims, or self-admission reports. Different

measures may yield slightly different pictures and therefore should be defined. Similarly, recidivism

may be defined by means of rearrest rates, reincarceration (imprisonment or jail) rates, or

other measures that could produce quite different assessments of the success or failure of

programs. Table 1.1 provides some illustrations of the conversion of various concepts into

variables by means of operationalization.

Dependent and Independent Variables

The dependent (outcome) variable is the variable one is attempting to predict and by convention is

denoted by the letter Y. Common outcome variables in criminal justice are concepts such as crime or

recidivism. Table 1.1 illustrates that ordinarily the dependent variable is some behavior or attitude

that is usually the subject of one's study. The independent (or predictor) variable is the variable that

causes, determines, or precedes in time the dependent variable and is usually denoted by the letter X

(or any letter other than Y). An independent variable in one study may become a dependent

variable in another. For example, a study of the impact of poverty (X) upon crime (Y) finds poverty

as a predictor (independent) variable, whereas a study that looks at race (X) as a predictor of

poverty (Y) finds poverty as an outcome (dependent) variable. The treatment variable is always an

independent variable, as are demographic variables such as age, sex, and race.

Theories/Hypotheses

Theories were described previously as attempts to develop plausible explanations of reality. They

are usually general or broad statements regarding the relationship between variables. Hypotheses

are specific statements regarding the relationship between (usually two) variables and are derived

from more general theories. A research hypothesis states an expected relationship between variables in positive terms. For example: Poverty causes crime. The null hypothesis is a hypothesis of no

difference and is the one actually tested statistically. For example: Poverty is not related to crime.

Operationalization

Variables

Dependent

variables

Independent

variables

Theories

Hypotheses

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Research Methods in Criminal Justice and Criminology, Eighth Edition, by Frank E. Hagan. Published by Prentice Hall. Copyright © 2010 by Pearson Education, Inc

Chapter 1 • Introduction to Criminal Justice Research Methods 17

One approach to research involves formulation of hypotheses, the operationalization or measurement

of the variables, and the testing or bringing of evidence to bear upon these. Figure 1.1 outlines

a model of the research process.

TABLE 1.1 Researchese: Basic Terms

Concept Operationalization Variable

Cynicism A Cynicism Scale consisting

of 20 questions ranging from

1 (low cynicism) to 3 (high

cynicism) for each

Cynicism Score 20 (low)

to 60 (high)

Intelligence Administration of an

intelligence test that compares

mental age (scores on a test)

with chronological age

IQ (Intelligence Quotient),

for example, range of below

55 to 145+

Risk on parole A Parole Risk Prediction Scale

called "Salient Factor Score"

Parole Risk Score ranging from

0 (poor risk) to 10 (very good risk)

Defendant's

appearance

Raters used a scale and rated

defendants from 0 (poor) to

10 (excellent)

Appearance Rating Score

0 (poor) to 10 (excellent)

Police patrol Precincts were assigned to be

either proactive (increased

patrol), reactive (decreased

patrol), or controlling (same

as usual patrol)

Police Patrol Strategy:

  • proactive
  • reactive
  • control

Independent (Predictor)* Variable (X)

(usually demographic variable or a treatment)

e.g., Appearance, Police Patrol, Age, Sex,

Race, Social Class

Dependent (Outcome)* Variable (Y)

(usually behavior/attitudes)

e.g., Crime, Recidivism, Cynicism, Intelligence,

Risk on Patrol

* Identification of independent and dependent variables has been oversimplified for heuristic purposes.

Induction

Analysis Operationalization

Measurement

Deduction

Findings

Theory

Hypothesis

Research

Design

Data

Gathering

FIGURE 1.1 A Model of the Research Process.

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Research Methods in Criminal Justice and Criminology, Eighth Edition, by Frank E. Hagan. Published by Prentice Hall. Copyright © 2010 by Pearson Education, Inc.

18 Chapter 1 • Introduction to Criminal Justice Research Methods

Deduction

Induction

EXAMPLES OF THE RESEARCH PROCESS

A brief description of this process is shown in Durkheim's (1951) classic study of suicide,

which was originally conducted in 1897 and was one of the first empirical studies in deviant

behavior. At the time Durkheim performed his study-in the late nineteenth century-little in

the way of empirical analysis had been undertaken in the social sciences. Contrary to popular

views of the time, Durkheim proposed that group membership affects suicide. From this he

deduced the specific hypothesis that religious denomination, marital status, and the like

would affect suicide rates. He operationalized his key variables or indicators of group membership

by assuming that married people have greater group ties than singles, or that Judaism

and Catholicism required greater group religious orientation than Protestantism, which was

more individualistic. Through analyzing the available official suicide records in European

countries at the time, he simply compared rates for each variable subcategory. Drawing the

general conclusion that singles and Protestants had higher suicide rates than married people,

Jews, and Catholics, he inferred from these findings a now modified theory: Group membership

does affect suicide.

In examining Figure 1.1 as well as our example, note that reasoning may proceed by means

of an a priori assumption (before-the-fact reasoning), wherein a theoretical idea precedes any

attempt to collect facts or use as a posteriori assumption (after-the-fact reasoning) in which

theory is developed after the data has been collected. The former is an example of a deductive

process of reasoning, with reasoning based on hypothesis or theory, and the latter illustrates the

inductive process, with reasoning based on inference of facts or particulars to general principles

or theory. Thus, theory to fact is deduction and fact to theory is induction. Deduction involves

moving from a level of theory to a specific hypothesis, whereas induction entails inferring about

a whole group on the basis of knowing about a case or a few cases. Sherlock Holmes' famous

compliment to Dr. Watson, "Brilliant deduction, my dear Watson," should probably have read

"induction" because Watson, in helping Holmes solve a case, was proceeding a posteriori from

specific facts or evidence to a conclusion or theory.

Recidivism among Juvenile Offenders

In order to further illustrate the research process, let us examine a hypothetical example. In an

experimental correction program called Salvation House, half of those scheduled for incarceration

are sent instead to this new community-based treatment program on the basis of a very general

theory that offenders better adjust, or are more likely to become rehabilitated, in a community

rather than in prison. A specific hypothesis derived from this theory (using, as we will describe in

Chapter 3, an interrupted time-series design) is that the Salvation House experimental group will

experience lower recidivism than the control group of incarcerateds. The dependent variable (Y)

is recidivism, and the predictor or independent variable (X) is assignment to jail or Salvation

House. The concept "recidivism" is defined as a reduction in both the quantity and quality

(seriousness) of crime commission over a one-year period after release compared with a similar

period prior to assignment to either correctional program.

Suffice it to say that each group was examined before and after treatment. Data

gathering involved the simple examination of official statistics kept by police and

probation/parole agents on violations, as well as the weighting of the seriousness of these

offenses. Let us suppose the analysis demonstrated a "suppression effect"-a decline in both

the quantity and seriousness of offenses of the Salvation House assignees. We might now

ISBN 0-558-58864-6

Research Methods in Criminal Justice and Criminology, Eighth Edition, by Frank E. Hagan. Published by Prentice Hall. Copyright © 2010 by Pearson Education, Inc

Chapter 1 • Introduction to Criminal Justice Research Methods 19

Steps in

research

Problem

formulation

draw the empirical generalization that less recidivism is demonstrated as a result of

community-based corrections, at least in our limited case study. We thus lend support to our

original theory that correction in the community appears to be more successful than isolated

incarceration, at least in bringing about some decline in the seriousness and quantity of

offenses. The theory is not set up for reanalysis and investigation.

An actual evaluation of juvenile intensive aftercare probation for serious offenders in

Philadelphia (Sontheimer and Goodstein, 1993) found it had a major impact on reducing the

frequency of subsequent offenses, but not the incidence of recidivism. Had only the latter been

used to operationalize recidivism, then a successful project would have been evaluated as

showing no difference.

GENERAL STEPS IN EMPIRICAL RESEARCH IN CRIMINAL JUSTICE

Although research varies considerably in scope, style, and procedure, most studies-particularly

those of a more quantitative nature-follow these general steps in research:

1. Problem formulation. Review, selection, and specification of the area to be investigated.

2. Research design. Type of experimental or nonexperimental approach, studies of a group

(or groups) at one time or over a period of time, and use of control groups.

3. Data collection methods. Choice of a variety of methods such as observation, reanalysis of

existing data, questionnaires, and interviews.

4. Analysis and presentation of findings. Summarizing, reporting, and statistically analyzing

where appropriate and presenting findings.

5. Conclusions, interpretations, and limitations. What the researcher believes the study has

to say.

Despite the neat, logical appearance of the research reported in journal articles, it is the

rare project that follows these steps in a straightforward fashion. Some research, for instance,

is exploratory and hypothesis generating rather than hypothesis testing in nature. The steps

remain, however, a useful heuristic device for explaining the process at this stage in a simple

manner. Although we will discuss problem formulation next, the organization of the text is

designed to follow these steps. Chapter 2 examines ethics in research, Chapters 3-8 look at

different data-gathering methods, and subsequent chapters discuss the presentation of

findings and their interpretation. By combining these steps with the model of the research

process described in Figure 1.1, we find that the investigator is often faced first with the issue

of finding a research problem.

PROBLEM FORMULATION: SELECTION OF RESEARCH PROBLEM

Problem formulation may be guided by many considerations including personal experiences. Take

your gut feelings seriously and pursue them. Chances are that each of us has unique experiences or

sensitivities that give us an edge in terms of interest or feel for a subject. This is an advantage that

should be recognized and acted on. Practical concerns may govern one's decision-data are

available on the job, our agency needs to have a similar study done, or the subject is manageable and

likely to be completed in the time allotted. The latter is certainly an important consideration in

academic theses and dissertations.

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Research Methods in Criminal Justice and Criminology, Eighth Edition, by Frank E. Hagan. Published by Prentice Hall. Copyright © 2010 by Pearson Education, Inc

20 Chapter 1 • Introduction to Criminal Justice Research Methods

In selecting a research problem, one should look for gaps in theory or the current state of

the art, feasibility of doing the research, ambiguous and conflicting findings in the current literature,

as well as the potential timeliness of policy implications. Additionally, the availability of

funding and sponsorship is an important consideration, particularly in large-scale projects. The

NIJ has an active research agenda and specified the following areas for funding for fiscal year

2007 (NIJ, 2008):

Research on sex offenders

Analysis of existing data

Trafficking in human beings

Retail drug markets

Electronic monitoring for moderate to high risk offenders

Abuse, neglect, and exploitation of elderly individuals

Research on policing and public safety interventions

Sexual violence

Rape in correctional settings

Intimate partner violence and stalking

Transnational crime

Terrorism

Other sources that may influence one's choice of a research problem include administrative

decision-making needs, scientific or intellectual interests, and/or attempts to ameliorate

crime or injustice. One should kick around topics and ideas with fellow students, advisors, and

professors and search and browse the literature. Peruse the library stacks and consider replication

studies of previous research. Minority and feminist scholars have charged that much research

and scholarship in criminology and criminal justice has ignored minorities and females and has

originated primarily from a white, androcentric (male-centered) bias (Chesney-Lind, 1989;

Russell, 1992; and Mann, 1993). Exhibit 1.4 examines some of these issues.

EXHIBIT 1.4

Feminist Perspectives and Research Methods

positivism to rest in the human disciplines" (Denzin,

1989, pp. 66-67; Denzin, 1984). In calling for

nonsexist research methods, Eichler (1988) speaks of

"gender insensitivity" in social science research. This

involves an ignoring of gender as an important social

variable.

Others attack "malestream" approaches to

empirical criminal justice and argue that feminist

writings and voices should be incorporated into

the mainstream of criminal justice education

(McDermott, 1992; Renzetti, 1993). Such inclusion

Feminist theory has emerged as a major force in

criminology and criminal justice. While it has many

expressions, it draws on Marxist, interactionist, and

critical theory and advocates a methodology that

differs from the dominant empirical positivism.

Some feminist writers view the latter as failing to

include gender as a central force and as being blind

to its own ideological bias, an androcentrism that

ignores females as a central part of crime and justice

issues. "Observers are gendered beings, and the

research act is a gendered production. Feminism lays

(continued )

ISBN 0-558-58864-6

Research Methods in Criminal Justice and Criminology, Eighth Edition, by Frank E. Hagan. Published by Prentice Hall. Copyright © 2010 by Pearson Education, Inc

Chapter 1 • Introduction to Criminal Justice Research Methods 21

PROBLEM FORMULATION: SPECIFICATION OF RESEARCH PROBLEM

The mere selection of a subject for investigation is only the beginning. One must now formulate

hypotheses, define key concepts, indicate appropriate operationalization, or decide upon a qualitative

sensitizing approach, decide upon research strategies, and finally relate one's research

problem to broader issues in criminal justice.

One key way to search for research problems is, of course, through a literature review.

Such a search will more likely than not hone what may have begun as a simple, vague hunch.

Many novice researchers, anxious to get on with the task, view the problem formulation and

literature review stages of a research project as a waste of precious time or a painful process

preceding the actual research. In reality, this is the most important period of a study; it refines

that which is to be examined and relates it to current and past inquiries, thus preventing the

reinvention of the wheel or rediscovery of a dead end. Table 1.2 lists selected journals and

abstracts that are useful in a literature review in criminal justice and criminology. Sources of

existing data are treated in more detail in the section on uses of available data in Chapter 8.

Students have available to them instant access to thousands of academic journals and

periodicals from any computer with an Internet connection. In addition to abstracts, many of

these online data sources contain full documents that may be viewed or downloaded. As

of feminist methods in social research (Reinharz,

1992) can be illustrated by a study by Elizabeth

Stanko (1990), Everyday Violence: How Women and

Men Experience Sexual and Physical Dangers, in

which she used in-depth interviews to tap women's

experiences that do not turn up in standard surveys.

Feeling that much nonfeminist research is sexist due

to cultural beliefs and a preponderance of male

researchers, feminists question perspectives that

assume traditional gender roles. This bias

particularly has expressed itself in the past in

writings on topics such as rape and domestic

violence.

In a content analysis of twenty-two introductory

criminal justice texts in print in 1989, Dorworth and

Henry (1992) found that women and blacks were

underrepresented in photographs as authorities. While

women were overrepresented as victims, blacks were

overrepresented as offenders. Criminology has

omitted black females by equating "woman" with

white woman and "black" with black male.

McDermott (1992, pp. 247-248) enjoins:

The newer feminist perspectives suggest

that reality isn't clean and tidy, and that

experiences don't come in little boxes that

are ready to be labeled and counted. . . . It

is frightening but necessary to begin to

understand knowledge as situated and as

socially constructed, and to view our methods

of obtaining knowledge as potentially biased.

We should encourage our students to consider

the potential contributions of newer

perspectives and to acknowledge that the

issues surrounding methodology and

epistemology [how we come to know] exist

and are real. There is no other way to move

forward.

Sources: Denzin, Norman. The Research Act.

Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1989; 66-67;

Denzin, Norman. "An Interpretation of Recent Feminist

Theory: A Review Essay." Sociology and Social Research

68 (1984): 712-718; McDermott, Joan M. "The

Personal is Empirical; Feminism, Research Methods, and

Criminal Justice Education." Journal of Criminal Justice

Education 3 (Fall, 1992): 237-249; Eichler, Magrit.

Nonsexist Research Methods. Boston: Allen and Unwin,

1988. Renzetti, Claire M. "On the Margins of the

Malestream (Or They Still Don't Get It. Do They?)."

Journal of Criminal Justice Education 4 (Fall, 1993):

219-234; Stanko, Elizabeth. Everyday Violence. London:

Pandora, 1990; and Dorworth, Vicky, and Marie Henry.

"Optical Illusions." Journal of Criminal Justice

Education 3 (Fall, 1992): 251-260.

EXHIBIT 1.4 (Continued )

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Research Methods in Criminal Justice and Criminology, Eighth Edition, by Frank E. Hagan. Published by Prentice Hall. Copyright © 2010 by Pearson Education, Inc

.

22 Chapter 1 • Introduction to Criminal Justice Research Methods

TABLE 1.2 Literature Review Sources

Selected Journals Relevant to Criminal Justice and Criminologya

American Criminal Law Review Journal of Family Violence

American Journal of Criminal Justice Journal of Justice Issues

American Journal of Police Journal of Law and Society

American Journal of Sociology Journal of Legal Studies

American Sociological Review Journal of Police Science and Administration

British Journal of Criminology Journal of Quantitative Criminology

British Journal of Sociology Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency

Canadian Journal of Criminology Journal of Society Administration

Corrections Digest Judicature

CJ International Justice Quarterly

Crime and Delinquency Law and Society Review

Crime and Social Justice NIJ (National Institute of Justice) Reports

Criminal Justice and Behavior Police Chief

Criminal Justice Ethics Police Studies

Criminal Justice Newsletter The Public Interest

Criminal Justice Policy Review Public Opinion Quarterly

Criminal Justice Review Social Forces

Criminology Social Problems

Federal Probation Social Science Quarterly

International Journal of Criminology and Penology Sociological Inquiry

Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice Sociology and Social Research

Journal of Crime and Justice Victimology

Journal of Criminal Justice Violence and Victims

Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology

Abstracts/Indexesb

Abstracts on Police Science Police Science Abstracts

Crime and Delinquency Abstracts Psychological Abstracts

Criminal Justice Abstracts

Criminal Justice Periodical Index

Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature

(for popular sources only)

Criminology and Penology Abstracts Social Science Index

Document Retrieval Index Social Sciences Citation Index

Encyclopedia of Crime and Justice Sociological Abstracts

New York Times Index

a This list is only a selection of journals and not an exhaustive list.

b These are among the many abstracts that are available in the reference section of the library. For more details on sources of

information in criminal justice and criminology, see Chapter 8.

illustrated in Figure 1.2, one simply chooses articles that are available in full text. Exhibit 1.5

provides an illustration of the growing online services available on computer networks and

the electronic highway. Conducting Internet searches using search engines such as Yahoo,

Infoseek, Lycos, or Excite is a useful means of becoming more familiar with one's topic

while also conducting a literature review.

Table 1.3 presents an abbreviated version of the APA (American Psychological Association)

style manual, which is the most widely used reference style in the social sciences.

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Research Methods in Criminal Justice and Criminology, Eighth Edition, by Frank E. Hagan. Published by Prentice Hall. Copyright © 2010 by Pearson Education, Inc

Chapter 1 • Introduction to Criminal Justice Research Methods 23

FIGURE 1.2 Online Research. (Source: National Criminal Justice Reference Service. www.ncjrs.gov)

EXHIBIT 1.5

The World Wide Web (WWW)

engines will list several Web addresses which

are called URLs (Uniform Resource Locators). For

example, Cecil Greek's homepage at the University

of South Florida is www.criminology.fsu.edu/

cjlinks/. Each of these sites contains clickable listings

which will connect you with other Web pages.

Some useful criminal justice sites on the World Wide

Web include:

The World Wide Web (WWW) is the fastest growing

component of the Internet. Through the use of Web

browsers such as Netscape and/or Internet Explorer,

scholars are able to access a variety of information.

Search engines such as Yahoo, Lycos, Excite, and

Infoseek will search by topic/author and provide

listings of sites which can be found on the Web.

Once the listing of sites is provided, the search

(continued )

Site Address

Cecil Greek www.stpt.usf.edu/~greek/cj.html

National Institute of Justice www.ojp.usdoj.gov/nij/

Bureau of Justice Statistics www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/

National Criminal Justice Reference Service www.ncjrs.org

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Research Methods in Criminal Justice and Criminology, Eighth Edition, by Frank E. Hagan. Published by Prentice Hall. Copyright © 2010 by Pearson Education, Inc

24 Chapter 1 • Introduction to Criminal Justice Research Methods

Financial Crimes Enforcement Network http://www.fincen.gov

Drug Enforcement Agency www.usdoj.gov/dea/

Federal Bureau of Investigation www.fbi.gov/

Federal Bureau of Prisons www.usdoj.gov/bop/bop.html

Library of Congress www.loc.gov/

National Archives www.nara.gov/

United Nations Criminal Justice and Crime

Prevention

www.uncjin.org/

National Archive of Criminal Justice Data

(Interuniversity Consortium on Political and

Social Research-University of Michigan)

www.icpsr.umich.edu/NACJD/home.html

U.S. Department of Justice www.usdoj.gov/

U.S. Federal Judiciary www.uscourts.gov/

The White House www.whitehouse.gov/WH/Welcome.

html

National Institute on Drug Abuse www.nida.nih.gov/

Office of International Criminal Justice www.oicj.org

Pavnet Online (Partnership Against Violence) www.pavnet.org/

Amnesty International www.amnesty.org

U.S. Census www.census.gov/

Central Intelligence Agency www.cia.gov

U.S. Secret Service www.ustreas.gov/treasury/bureaus/usss/

usss.html

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms www.atf.treas.gov/

Drug Enforcement Agency www.usdoj.gov/otj/otj.html

Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency www.ojjdp.gov/

Prevention

National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug

Information

www.health.org/

U.S. Government Printing Office www.access.gpo.gov/

National Security Agency www.nsa.gov

Britannica Online www.britannica.com

Department of Justice Career Opportunities www.usdoj.gov/careers.html

National Employment Listing Service

(NELS Bulletin)

www.shsu.edu/~icc_nels/

General Accounting Office www.gao.gov/

National Institute of Justice www.ojp.usdoj.gov/nij

Justinfo Online www.ncjrs.gov

New York Times Navigator www.nytimes.com/library/cyber/

reference/cynavi.html#pub

EXHIBIT 1.5 (Continued )

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Research Methods in Criminal Justice and Criminology, Eighth Edition, by Frank E. Hagan. Published by Prentice Hall. Copyright © 2010 by Pearson Education, Inc.

Chapter 1 • Introduction to Criminal Justice Research Methods 25

TABLE 1.3 APA (American Psychological Association) Reference Style

The following is an abbreviated version of the most widely used style reference manual in the

social sciences and criminal justice-the Publication Manual of the American Psychological

Association (APA). Consult the APA Manual for more details (www.apastyle.org).

Reference citations are incorporated directly into the paper.

Hagan (2009) indicates that the APA style incorporates citations directly in the text.

Direct quotes should provide a page number and "p" or "pp" either after the year or at the end

of the quote.

Hagan (2009, p. 10) indicates that "the APA style incorporates citations at

the end of the quote."

For two or more authors, use "and" in the text and "&" in the citation.

Hagan and Rooney (2009) claim that the Steelers are the best team in the NFL.

Writers have claimed (Hagan & Rooney, 2009) that the Steelers are the

best team in the NFL.

Internet sources are cited in the same manner as print sources.

Provide the name of the author(s) followed by the year of publication: (Hagan, 2009).

If no author is given, use the name of the document: (NFL Yearbook, 2009).

REFERENCES

Alphabetize all references at the end of your paper.

Hagan, F. E. (2009). Research methods in criminal justice and criminology (8th ed.).

Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Two or more authors

Hagan, F. E., & Tontodonato, P. (2004). Classical and sociological theories of delinquency. In

P. Benekos & A. Merlo (Eds.), Corrections: dilemmas and directions. Cincinnati: Anderson.

Journals

List author, year, and title of the article without quotation marks, with the first

word and any proper nouns capitalized, name of the journal italicized, volume

number italicized, and inclusive page numbers not preceded by "p" or "pp."

Hagan, F. E. (1986). Sub rosa criminals. Clandestine Tactics and Technology, 11, 298-320.

In addition to consulting the actual APA publication manual (www.apastyle.com),

the reader might find it more convenient to consult books or periodicals that use the

APA style for examples.

Source: Adapted by the author from the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association

(www.apastyle.org/elecre.html).

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Research Methods in Criminal Justice and Criminology, Eighth Edition, by Frank E. Hagan. Published by Prentice Hall. Copyright © 2010 by Pearson Education, Inc

26 Chapter 1 • Introduction to Criminal Justice Research Methods

Key Concepts

Replication 6

Verification 6

Methodological narcissism 7

Theory 7

Paradigm 8

Methodology 9

"Broken Windows" 9

Pure research 10

Applied research 10

Crime analysis 13

Quantitative research 14

Qualitative research 14

Verstehen 14

Historicism 15

Scientism 15

Research shock 15

Researchese 15

Concepts 15

Operationalization 16

Variables 16

Dependent Variable 16

Independent Variable 16

Theories 16

Hypotheses 16

Deduction 18

Induction 18

Steps in research 19

Problem formulation 19

Feminist Perspectives 20

Summary

In this introductory chapter, we discussed why those

who attack criminological or criminal justice research

as being common sense often deceive themselves with

nonsense, substituting their own personal bias or ignorance

for objective, scientific information. The study

of research methods was described as an invaluable

tool for understanding the latest developments in

criminal justice as well as in society. Knowledge is

what people create symbolically to represent reality

and was described by Comte as "progressing through

three stages": theological (supernatural), metaphysical

(philosophical, rational), and scientific (rational plus

scientific method or proof). Criminal justice strives for

scientific status. Scientists rely upon probabilistic

knowledge, that is, predicting general trends, not

each case.

In conducting or critiquing studies, researchers

are advised to avoid methodological narcissism

(fanaticism for one method or method for method's

sake). Those concerned with good research should

be objective, vigilant (for error), and sympathetic

(because all research is infested with error). Theory is

an attempt to develop plausible explanations of

reality, whereas methodology is an attempt to collect

accurate facts or data. Both are indispensable in

providing sound criminal justice knowledge. New

knowledge often takes place due to paradigm shifts.

A paradigm is a model or scheme with which reality

is viewed. Pure research is directed at the acquisition

of new knowledge for its own sake, whereas applied

research is interested in knowledge for the practical

resolution of an existing problem. Quantitative

research (positivism) is concerned with measuring

social reality by using the scientific method.

Researchese, the language of research, includes

concepts (abstract tags put on reality), operationalization

(defining concepts by describing how they will

be measured), variables (operationalized concepts

or concepts that vary), theories (general statements

regarding relationships between variables), and

hypotheses (specific statements regarding the relationship

between variables). Variables may be dependent

(outcome) (the variable one is attempting to predict,

denoted by the letter Y) and independent (the predictor

variable, denoted by the letter X or any letter

other than Y).

The research process was illustrated as a

circular process from theory to hypothesis to

research design to data gathering to findings and

then back to theory.

The general steps in empirical research in criminal

justice are: problem formulation, research design,

data-collection methods, analysis/presentation of

findings, and conclusions/interpretations/limitations.

The first step-problem formulation-was discussed;

the remaining steps will be the subject of subsequent

chapters.

The feminist perspective on research methods

offers an alternative to androcentric bias in

criminology.

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Research Methods in Criminal Justice and Criminology, Eighth Edition, by Frank E. Hagan. Published by Prentice Hall. Copyright © 2010 by Pearson Education, Inc

Chapter 1 • Introduction to Criminal Justice Research Methods 27

Useful Web Sites

Review Questions

1. Name a myth or inaccurate commonsense view of

crime or criminal justice other than one presented in

this chapter. Indicate how research has clarified this

misconception.

2. Are criminology and criminal justice sciences?

Discuss some developments that support their claim

to scientific status.

3. What is the role of theory in criminological/criminal

justice research, and why has there been such a shortage

of new theory since the 1960s?

4. Choose a recent journal article and identify: (a) the

research problem, (b) research design, (c) data-gathering

strategy, (d) dependent variable/s, (e) independent

variable/s, and (f) operationalization of the key dependent

and independent variables.

5. What is the feminist perspective on research

methods? Why is there a need for such a perspective?

How does it differ from the "malestream"?

Research Navigator www.researchnavigator.com

Allyn and Bacon Criminal Justice Online www.

ablongman.com/criminaljustice

Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences www.acjs.org

United Nations Crime and Justice Information

Network www.uncjin.org

Criminal Justice Megalinks www.apsu.edu/oconnort/

toconnor

Cecil Greek's Criminal Justice Web Site www.

criminology.fsu/edu/p/cj1-main.php.

NIJ International Center www.ojp.usdoj.gov/nij/

international

Web Center for Social Research Methods www.

socialresearchmethods.net/

National Criminal Justice Reference Service (NCJRS)

www.ncjrs.org/

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Research Methods in Criminal Justice and Criminology, Eighth Edition, by Frank E. Hagan. Published by Prentice Hall. Copyright © 2010 by Pearson Education, Inc.

 

 

THE END OF CHAPTER 1

Customer: replied 2 years ago.

C H A P T E R

2 Ethics in Criminal Justice Research

Ethical Horror Stories

Biomedical Examples

Social Science Examples

Exhibit 2.1 AIDS Research in Africa

and Asia: Is It Ethical?

Exhibit 2.2 The Minerva Consortium

and the Human Terrain System

Researcher Fraud and Plagiarism

Exhibit 2.3 Legendary Research Scams

The Researcher's Role

Research Targets in Criminal Justice

Ethics and Professionalism

Ethics in Criminal Justice Research

History of Federal Regulation of Research

The Belmont Report

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

Research Activities Exempt from HHS Review

National Institute of Justice's Human Subject

Protection Requirements

Confidentiality of Criminal Justice Research

Exhibit 2.4 Codes of Research Ethics of the

Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences (ACJS)

Ethical Issues in Criminology/Criminal

Justice Research

Avoid Research That May Harm Respondents

Honor Commitments to Respondents

and Respect Reciprocity

Exercise Objectivity and Professional Integrity

in Performing and Reporting Research

Protect Confidentiality and Privacy of

Respondents

Ethical Problems

The Brajuha Case (Weinstein Decision)

The Ofshe Case

The Hutchinson Case

The Scarce Case

Additional Ethical Concerns

Avoiding Ethical Problems

Summary

Key Concepts

Review Questions

Useful Web Sites

ETHICAL HORROR STORIES

Biomedical Examples

Nazi doctors tortured, maimed, and murdered innocent captive subjects. Some scientists have

purposely allowed subjects to suffer and even die of a disease while withholding a known cure.

As part of other experiments, researchers have deceived people into believing that they were

electrocuting people; they have created an artificial prison in which participants become hostile

ISBN 0-558-58864-6

Research Methods in Criminal Justice and Criminology, Eighth Edition, by Frank E. Hagan. Published by Prentice Hall. Copyright © 2010 by Pearson Education, Inc

and aggressive; or they have spied on secret sexual activity and later showed up at the subjects'

homes and invaded their privacy as part of a scientific survey. Intelligence agencies have

employed social scientists to gather data on dissidents in Third World countries and, along with

the military, have employed researchers and scientists (including former Nazis) to conduct often

bizarre and dangerous experiments on unknowing subjects. If all of these situations resemble

plots for a XXXXX XXXXX gothic novel, they are not. Each is an actual example of a project that

has raised ethical controversies.

Major ethical concerns about the use of human subjects in research originally arose as a

result of the outrageous examples of inhuman Nazi experiments during World War II. Dr. Josef

Mengele, the "Angel of Death," performed horrifying human experiments in which captive

subjects were tortured and killed in the name of scientific research. These experiments were coldblooded

and inhumane. In the name of medical research, people were infected with diseases, used

as guinea pigs to test new drugs, administered poisons, and exposed to extreme temperatures and

decompression to test reactions to high altitudes (Katz, 1972). After the war, the Nuremberg trials

defined such behavior as war crimes and crimes against humanity. The Nuremberg Code set forth

principles governing the use of human subjects in research, including the requirement that such

subjects "voluntarily consent" to participate in a study (Wexler, 1990, p. 81).

In the infamous Tuskegee Syphilis Study (Brandt, 1978), the U.S. Public Health Service

withheld penicillin, a known cure for syphilis, from 425 uneducated black male sharecroppers

who suffered from and eventually died of untreated syphilis. This study, which began in 1932

before a cure for syphilis was available, was completed in the 1970s, well after such medicine

was developed. Such inhumane biomedical research on unsuspecting subjects did not end with

the Tuskegee Study (Jones, 1982). In the 1960s, live cancer cells were injected into elderly

patients at a Brooklyn hospital without their knowledge. The U.S. military services, during

and after World War II, exposed their own soldiers to mustard gas and nuclear radiation,

resulting in cases of chronic ailments and premature death. During the post-World War II Cold

War era, American intelligence agencies, with the cooperation of the scientific community,

performed bizarre and dangerous experiments on unknowing subjects. In the early years of the

Cold War, American intelligence agencies had become convinced that the Communists had

developed secret mind control and brainwashing techniques and that it was necessary in this

battle for human minds and world domination to pull out all the stops (Scheflin and Opton,

1978; Hagan, 2006).

This explains, but does not condone, the following abuses:

  • Government researchers slipped LSD into the drink of an unsuspecting government

employee, who then committed suicide. Later, the government refused to tell his grief- and

guilt-stricken family what really happened.

  • In the 1950s, using code names like Bluebird, Artichoke, and MKUltra, the CIA, FBI, and

U.S. military experimented with behavior-control devices and interrogation techniques,

including ESP, drugs, polygraphs, hypnosis, shock therapy, surgery, and radiation. These

experiments involved secret testing on unsuspecting citizens and, if death or injury occurred,

a cover-up (Cousins, 1979; Simon and Eitzen, 1996).

  • In 1988, the CIA agreed to pay damages to eight Canadian citizens who had been victims

of experiments at a Montreal mental hospital (Witt, 1988, p. 2A). As an example, a

Canadian teenager seeking medical treatment for an arthritic leg was first given LSD,

and then he was subjected to electroshock therapy and forced to listen to taped messages

saying, "You killed your mother." Such studies were conducted on more than 100 Canadians

Research Methods in Criminal Justice and Criminology, Eighth Edition, by Frank E. Hagan. Published by Prentice Hall. Copyright © 2010 by Pearson Education, Inc.

30 Chapter 2 • Ethics in Criminal Justice Research

by an American doctor who had been the former president of the American Psychiatric

Association, and the studies were financed by the CIA.

  • In 1986, the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee uncovered the fact that during a

thirty-year period beginning in the mid-1940s, federal agencies had conducted exposure

experiments on American citizens, including injecting them with plutonium, radium, and

uranium. These studies included feeding radium or thorium to elderly patients during an

experiment at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, irradiating inmates' testes with

x-rays, and exposing people to open-air fallout tests and feeding them real fallout from a

Nevada test site (Lawrence, 1988). It was later revealed that the U.S. military even

employed former Nazi doctors and scientists, using them to conduct chemical experiments

on U.S. military personnel at Fort Dietrick (Aberdeen, Maryland).

  • Situ and Emmons (1999) in Environmental Crime describe the often overlooked, massive

governmental experiment of open-air nuclear testing in the post-World War II period.

Between 1951 and 1963, the U.S. government detonated 126 nuclear bombs in the sky above

Nevada. Each detonation sent a cloud of radiation aloft equal to that released during the

Chernobyl nuclear disaster in the former Soviet Union. Such testing spoiled soil in Virginia,

milk in New England, wheat in South Dakota, and fish in the Great Lakes. During the same

period, U.S. Army infantry were ordered to observe nuclear tests from unprotected trenches.

  • In an incredibly insensitive experiment, for four months during the Depression, researcher

and graduate student Mary Tudor and her professor Wendell Johnson taught children at an

Iowa orphanage a "lesson they would never forget"-how to stutter (Lessons, 2001).

While the experiment helped thousands of children overcome speech difficulties, this took

place at the expense of some of the children unnecessarily being subject to lives as outcasts

and misfits. Thirteen of her subjects who are still alive learned of the experiment in 2001

when reporters from the San Jose Mercury News contacted them. The now stuttering

children had been divided into two groups of eleven, one labeled normal speakers and

given positive speech therapy and the other group induced to stutter. Eight members of the

treatment group became permanent stutterers. While Tudor had guilt feelings and returned

to the orphanage a number of times to attempt to reverse the damage, Johnson did nothing

and became very prominent in his field of speech pathology due to the findings. Tudor

describes how during the experiment the trusting orphans greeted her, running to her car

and helping to carry in materials for the experiment. In 2007, the state of Iowa agreed to

pay $925,000 to six of the subjects of the study who had been harmed by the University of

Iowa researchers. The 1939 experiment became known as the "Monster Study" because of

the methods used by the researchers. The San Jose Mercury News broke the story in 2001

based on statements made by Mary Tudor (Associated Press, 2007, p. 8A).

  • In 1998, a Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) report concluded that the

federal system for protecting human research subjects was breaking down. The report

claimed that Institutional Review Boards (IRBs), which judge the ethical merits of research,

were overburdened, insufficiently staffed, and subject to conflict of interest (Weiss, 1998).

Although the details of one study were more complicated than described, newspapers reported

that physicians in New York offered to give Toys R Us gift certificates to thirty-six healthy

black and Hispanic elementary school pupils if the children agreed to enroll in a medical

study that required them to take a potentially life-threatening drug (actually low doses of

fenfluramine). The drug was used to measure levels of brain hormone implicated in antisocial

behavior. The older brothers of the young males were delinquent and the study was

designed to examine whether this increased the latter's delinquency potential.

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Research Methods in Criminal Justice and Criminology, Eighth Edition, by Frank E. Hagan. Published by Prentice Hall. Copyright © 2010 by Pearson Education, Inc

Chapter 2 • Ethics in Criminal Justice Research 31

  • In another controversial University of California study, schizophrenic youths were required

to discontinue their medication. This caused some to be confused, violent, and to lose their

ability to concentrate. One committed suicide. Of particular concern in these studies was the

cavalier manner in which vulnerable populations (young, mentally disturbed, and minorities)

were put at risk.

  • In a blatant example of professionals selling out research integrity to commercial interests,

it was reported in 2008 that the drug manufacturer Merck wrote research reports praising

their drugs and then paid doctors to attach their names to those reports. The ghostwritten

medical reports were published in professional journals. Merck had manipulated dozens of

such reports in order to promote Vioxx, a drug that was later recalled (Guterman, 2008;

Saul, 2008).

Exhibit 2.1 considers a controversial experiment with an AIDS vaccine in Third World

countries.

Social Science Examples

Most of the foregoing examples have been biomedical in nature; but because social and behavioral

research likewise puts subjects at risk, its activities have led to similar ethical concerns.

Many social scientific studies related to crime and deviance have come under scrutiny. The three

EXHIBIT 2.1

AIDS Research in Africa and Asia: Is It Ethical?

In September 1997, an international debate began

when it was revealed that American-sponsored

field experiments with AZT (azidothymidine)

vaccine (a believed treatment for AIDS) were being

conducted in Asia and Africa on pregnant women

who had been diagnosed with the AIDS virus.

While some of the women (the experimental

group) were given AZT, others (the control group)

were given placebos. Critics charged that by not

giving AZT to all, the newborns of the control

group were knowingly being given AIDS.

Defenders of the experiment pointed out that

without the experiment there would have been no

AZT treatment for anyone in such poor countries.

They argued that such treatment was ethical since

half of the women who had received some

treatment would have otherwise received none.

Such treatments are routine in wealthier countries

such as the United States as soon as AIDS is

diagnosed.

Critics also drew parallels with the Tuskegee

Syphilis Experiment and questioned the morality of

withholding a likely cure, while proponents noted

that the findings promised to discover a shorter,

cheaper course of AZT treatment that could protect

newborns. Marjorie Speers is in charge of human

subject protection at the Center for Disease Control

and Prevention (CDC).

Consent is another minefield, Speers said.

U.S. regulations require individual informed

consent. In other nations, husbands consent

for wives and tribal leaders consent for villagers.

To ask for more is insulting. Speers said the

very notion of informed consent is alien in parts

of the former Soviet Union after decades of

totalitarianism. And the CDC was forced to

cancel research in two Arab countries because

the governments refused to allow women to

serve on ethical review panels (Long, 1998).

Source: Adapted from XXXXX, XXXXX. "AIDS Research

Abroad Raises Ethical Concerns." The Cleveland Plain

Dealer, 20 May 1998, A-1.

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Research Methods in Criminal Justice and Criminology, Eighth Edition, by Frank E. Hagan. Published by Prentice Hall. Copyright © 2010 by Pearson Education, Inc

32 Chapter 2 • Ethics in Criminal Justice Research

social scientific studies that seem to be cited in the literature most often are: Stanley Milgram's

Obedience to Authority (1974), Philip Zimbardo's simulated prison experiment (1972, 1973,

1974), and Laud Humphreys' Tearoom Trade (1970).

In his classic Obedience to Authority study, Stanley Milgram had one very important

objective: He wanted to discover the causes of the Holocaust. During the Nazi era in Germany,

some people performed their gruesome duties as if it was "just another day at the office." How

and why do average, "normal" people commit the most monstrous acts? In Milgram's study,

which was designed to answer this question, volunteer subjects were recruited and paid to act as

"teachers" while "confederates" (fake subjects who were really in the study) acted as "pupils."

The subjects (teachers) were then deceived into believing that each time they threw a lever on a

shock apparatus, they were administering gradually more painful electric shocks to pupils,

whom they could hear but not see. When the pupils failed to answer a question correctly, the

teachers were to administer shocks. Despite protests from the pupils, teachers were willing to

administer levels of voltage which they believed to be dangerous, particularly when assured by

lab assistants, who appeared as scientific authorities, that such behavior was necessary. Subjects

experienced personal turmoil both during and immediately after the experiment, although

debriefing (explaining the purpose of the study after-the-fact) seemed to have resulted in no

long-term harm. Do experimenters have the ethical right to deceive and put subjects in a position

of emotional stress in the name of science?

In Philip Zimbardo's simulated prison study, male, undergraduate, paid volunteers

assumed the roles of either guard or prisoner. A mock prison was constructed in the basement of

a Stanford University building; and prisoners and guards assumed their respective roles, complete

with uniforms, nightsticks, and mirrored sunglasses for the guards, and numbers and prison

garb for the prisoners. While the experiment was to have lasted at least two weeks, individuals

became so carried away with the roles-passivity and hostility by prisoners and aggressive and

dehumanizing behavior by guards-that Zimbardo cancelled the study after six days rather than

risk harm to the participants. The "Lucifer effect" (www.lucifereffect.org) is a term coined by

Philip Zimbardo to refer to a transformation of human character that causes good people to

engage in evil actions. This could include sexual degradation and torture such as at the Abu

Ghraib prison in Iraq. In The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil,

Zimbardo (2007a) describes one humiliating exercise in the Stanford experiment called the

"humping experiment":

After a brief consultation, our toughest guard (nicknamed "John Wayne" by the

prisoners) and his sidekick devised a new sexual game. "OK pay attention. You three

are going to be female camels. Get over there and bend over, touching your hands to

the floor." When they did, their naked butts were exposed because they had no underwear

beneath their smocks. John Wayne continues with obvious glee, "Now you

two, you're male camels and hump them."

Although their bodies never touched, the zombie-like prisoners began to simulate the

sodomy. One of Zimbardo's associates, after observing such exercises, berated him for contributing

to the suffering of human beings. This snapped Zimbardo back to his senses and led to him

canceling the experiment (Zimbardo, 2007b).

In 2002, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) cancelled plans to replicate for television

the "notorious" Stanford experiment, featuring fifteen participants, for fear for their emotional

Lucifer effect

ISBN 0-558-58864-6

Research Methods in Criminal Justice and Criminology, Eighth Edition, by Frank E. Hagan. Published by Prentice Hall. Copyright © 2010 by Pearson Education, Inc

Chapter 2 • Ethics in Criminal Justice Research 33

and physical well-being. The volunteers had been "incarcerated" in a simulated "prison" at Elstree

studios in Hertfordshire. The BBC had advertised for volunteers, warning participants that those

chosen would be exposed to "exercise, tasks, hardship, hunger, solitude and anger" (Wells, 2002).

Overseen by two psychologists, Alex Haslam (Exeter University) and Stephen Reicher

(St. Andrews University), as well as an independent "ethical committee," the experiment was terminated

only a day or two short of the planned ten days. Zimbardo himself commented, "that kind

of research is now considered to be unethical and should not be redone just for sensational TV and

Survivor-type glamour. I am amazed a British university psychology department would be

involved" (ibid.).

The possibility of such potential harm is even worse if the subjects do not consent to

participate in a study; in such experiments, observation usually takes place in private settings, and

the behavior involves activity which society may regard as immoral or illegal. All of these factors

were present in Laud Humphreys' controversial study, Tearoom Trade (1970), one involving

secret male homosexual behavior in public restrooms. Pretending to be a "watchqueen" (voyeur),

Humphreys served both as a lookout and as a hidden observer of such behavior. He copied license

numbers and traced them to the owners' homes. Changing his appearance, Humphreys showed up

at their homes under the guise of a mental health researcher.

Although Humphreys' research was important to the criminal justice system, which gained

important insights into the nature of such participants who engage in impersonal homosexual

liaisons in public places, was the obtaining of such knowledge justified given the risk for potential

harm to subjects if their secret sexual behavior were to become known to legal authorities,

family, or employers? Even though Humphreys claimed to have taken great precautions to protect

the anonymity of the subjects, did he have the right to put them in harm's way without their

permission? Is there any way of studying such behavior without using deceit and deception?

Should criminological researchers study only volunteers?

An amusing example is provided by a disguised observational study of the "Church of

Satan." The researcher (Alfred, 1976) felt guilty that he had deceived members of a satanic cult,

until he revealed his misrepresentation and was applauded by the group, since lying is considered

an appropriate satanic act.

What if the researchers are themselves the subject of deception? Through various fronts

during the 1960s and 1970s, the CIA, apparently without the knowledge of the recipients,

funded social-psychological research by such names as Sherifs, Orne, Rogers, Osgood,

and Goffman (Marks, 1979, p. 121), and it financed the publication of more than one

thousand books, pretending that they were the products of independent scholarship (Cook,

1984, p. 287).

In Project Camelot (Horowitz, 1965), for example, U.S. researchers studied student and

peasant insurgency movements in Chile. Because this was an area of the world where government

opponents routinely "disappeared," many subjects were justifiably suspicious of this effort, and

they feared the data it would generate. Believing that the "Yanqui" researchers were gathering

this information for intelligence purposes, they thought the study would have a chilling effect on

dissent. Although the researchers denied such CIA involvement at the time, some of the

researchers later discovered that their data were in fact being gathered for intelligence purposes.

The government of Chile, which had been unaware of the project, expelled the researchers and

brought to an end the infamous Project Camelot. Among the many questions raised by this study

are: Should researchers do the bidding of intelligence agencies, thus acting as spies? Whose side

is social research on? Should researchers refuse certain sponsorship or specify the conditions

under which sponsorship will be accepted?

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34 Chapter 2 • Ethics in Criminal Justice Research

In 1998, over 100 boys ages six to eleven were given fenfluramine, half of a later

banned diet drug combination known as fen-phen, as part of a study of brain activity and

aggression. Some of the boys had been chosen because apparently they had older siblings

who were juvenile delinquents. The project was conducted by the New York State Psychiatric

Institute, Queen's College Psychology Department, and the Mount Sinai School of Medicine.

The boys were given a single dose of up to 10 milligrams of fenfluramine to see if it raised

serotonin levels in the brain. Such an increase is believed to reduce aggression (Associated

Press, 1998).

While the researchers claimed the boys' parents were informed of the risks and that the

level of dosages was not harmful, federal investigators such as at the Office of Protection from

Research Risk are reviewing the study. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) estimated that

one-third of all adults who took the diet pill regularly may have experienced significant heart

valve damage. Fenfluramine and a related drug, Redux, were recalled by the FDA in the summer

of 1997.

There has been no shortage of ethical horror stories including those involving correctional

research on prisoner "volunteers" (Cassell and Wax, 1980, p. 260). Mitford in Kind and Unusual

Punishment (1973) documents abuse of inmates by medical researchers, as does Allen Hornblum

in his book Acres of Skin (1998). Hornblum relates his first experience with such experiments on

entering a Pennsylvania prison in 1971 and noticing bizarre patchworks of gauze on many prisoners

and being told that the prisoners were testing perfumes. They were human guinea pigs not

only for perfumes, but also for soap, cosmetics, and even dioxin (radioactive isotopes and

psychological warfare agents). Hornblum's research revealed that, by 1969, 85 percent of all new

drugs were being tested on prisoners.

Hornblum used the Freedom of Information Act in order to obtain old records and found

that most of the subjects were never checked for long-term effects. Claiming that one researcher,

University of Pennsylvania professor Albert Kligman, ran a virtual human research factory using

prisoners as guinea pigs, Hornblum documents:

  • The Army tested an incapacitating agent, EA 3167, a chemical warfare agent which caused

subjects to experience hallucinations and confusion for up to three weeks. The inmates

referred to EA 3167 and other mind-altering drugs that they received as LSD.

  • Kligman lied about his credentials in order to test radioactive isotopes on prisoners.
  • He tested dioxin, a component of Agent Orange, for Dow chemical but went beyond

their instructions by subjecting several inmates to 7,500 micrograms or 468 times the

required dosage. Two inmates later sued, settling for only a few thousand dollars

(Kinney, 1998).

By the late 1970s, a National Commission for the Protection of Subjects of Biomedical and

Behavioral Research suggested banning such a practice. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration

agreed, and by the early 1980s, most prison testing was outlawed. Former prisoners who had

participated in such experiments related negative psychological and physiological harm long after

the experiment. Most participants were poor and uneducated (Kinney, 1998).

In Darkness in El Dorado: How Scientists and Journalists Devastated the Amazon,

Tierney (2001) alleges major ethical violations by anthropologists who violated the human rights

of the Yanomami, a native people of Brazil and Venezuela. The Yanomami were injected with a

measles vaccine known to be virulent in isolated populations. A subsequent epidemic ensued,

and the research team supposedly was instructed not to assist the dying Yanomami. No informed

consent was gained from the vulnerable tribe (Fleur-Lobban, 2000). These accusations threw the

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Chapter 2 • Ethics in Criminal Justice Research 35

American Anthropological Association into turmoil, with a committee charging that Tierney's

accusations were largely false but that many of his other points were well founded (Glenn, 2006).

To illustrate the seriousness with which federal agencies view the protection of human subjects,

on July 19, 2001, the U.S. federal government cancelled all federal funding for research

projects at Johns Hopkins University due to the death of a subject in a university-run experiment.

In 2000, Hopkins had led the nation in federally funded research. The dead volunteer subject had

participated in an asthma experiment in which the informed consent form failed to adequately

advise her of the experimental nature of the drug that killed her when she inhaled it.

Julianne Basinger in an article entitled "Research at What Cost?" (2001) examines the case

of Shawn Wight, a twenty six-year-old graduate student from Ohio State, whose participation in

research cost him his life. Accompanied by his professor, Shawn and other graduate students

were on a high altitude expedition in Western China to examine and drill ice cores from glaciers.

He developed severe reactions to the altitude that ultimately resulted in his death. While emergency

measures for dealing with such problems appeared inadequate, the State of Ohio ruled in

favor of the university in a $24 million liability suit brought by Wight's parents. The case represented

a wake-up call to universities and research directors, and Ohio State has since improved

its procedures and oversight functions. There is a growing awareness of the risks involved in

research for not only the subjects, but also the researchers and their employees (Craig, Corden,

and Thornton, 2000). Exhibit 2.2 describes the controversial Minerva Consortium and the

Human Terrain System that recruits academics to assist in the war on terrorism.

EXHIBIT 2.2

The Minerva Consortium And The Human Terrain System

Academia has a long history of aiding military and

intelligence agencies going back to the Office of

Strategic Services in World War II, Vietnam, the Cold

War, and before. Franz Boas, the father of American

anthropology, once complained that his colleagues

were spying on the German navy during World War

I while pretending to be doing research. Critics of

such activity argue that it violates the neutral

observer status of the professionals in the discipline

(Embedded Anthropologists, 2007, p. B4). In

America, the discipline of psychology has a long

relationship with the U.S. military. Controversy has

been raised regarding the role of the military's

behavioral science consultation teams (known as

biscuits). These are made up of psychologists and

others, who assist in interrogations. In light of

charges of torture of prisoners at Camp Delta at

Guantanamo Bay by the U.S. military, social

scientists must be careful in their involvement. The

American Psychological Association's (APA) code of

ethics permits consultative roles in such interrogations

as long as psychologists do not participate in

certain coercive practices such as waterboarding, in

which captives are placed in fear of drowning (Carey,

2008). Recent APA debates have questioned psychology's

role in the coercive practices used during the

George W. Bush Administration's antiterrorism

campaign.

During World War II, the Manhattan Project

enlisted the talents of scientists and academics to

develop the atom bomb. Also at this time, the

Army's Psychological Warfare unit recruited social

scientists to develop wartime propaganda tools and

means of promoting allied military morale and

undermining enemy morale. In 2006, the Pentagon

launched a program entitled the "Human Terrain

System," in which academics were recruited in order

to conduct field research in Afghanistan and Iraq to

assist the U.S. military in waging a smarter

counterinsurgency war (Ephron and Spring, 2008).

(continued)

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36 Chapter 2 • Ethics in Criminal Justice Research

Research

fraud

Plagiarism

EXHIBIT 2.2 (Continued )

The specialists were charged with mapping the

population of communities, identifying clans and

conflicts between them and advising the military on

obtaining local support. Some possible participants

in the Human Terrain System program were

discouraged when the American Anthropological

Association indicated that such researchers would

most likely be violating the ethics of their profession

because they would be contributing data that might

be useful in military operations.

The "Minerva Consortium" is named for the

Roman goddess of wisdom. In 2008, it was

introduced by Robert Gates, secretary of defense, in

a speech before the Association of American

Universities (Goldstein, 2008). During the speech,

Gates quoted historian Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.'s

1957 speech after the Russian Sputnik beat the

United States into space, when he said the United

States "must return to acceptance of eggheads and

ideas if it is to meet the Russian challenge"

(Goldstein, 2008, p. B4). The Minerva Consortium

would establish a project that finances social science

research that is relevant to national security. Such a

proposal has been met with mixed reactions. Various

charges for and against such a project opined that it

would be a justification of imperialism, be needed to

counteract jihadist ideology, be used to justify

human rights abuses, provide the opportunity to

break new ground in the social sciences, contribute

to a further militarization of universities, and

produce a brain drain from other areas of research.

At least two graduate students who had volunteered

to serve in the Human Terrain System were killed in

Afghanistan (Glenn, 2008).

Sources: Adapted from: Carey, Benedict. "Psychologists

Clash on Aiding Interrogations." New York Times, 16

August 2008, A1; "Embedded Anthropologists."

Chronicle of Higher Education, 19 October 2007, B4;

Ephron, Dan, and Silvia Spring. "A Gun in One Hand,

A Pen in the Other." Newsweek, 21 April 2008, 34-35;

Glenn, David. "Peacekeeper and Scholar is Killed in War

Zone." Chronicle of Higher Education, 4 July 2008, A1,

A6, A9; Goldstein, Evan. "Enlisting Social Scientists."

Chronicle of Higher Education, 4 July 2008, B4, B5.

Researcher Fraud and Plagiarism

A fundamental expectation of any piece of scientific research is that it be accurate, honest, and

properly referenced. This, incidentally, is the reason why professors harp upon these themes when

correcting student papers; those who ignore these lessons may be haunted by them later in life.

Research fraud occurs when researchers purposely fabricate or misrepresent their findings.

Despite the pressure on researchers to "publish or perish"-tenure and grants are often

dependent on their success in getting published in research publications-the actual number of

cases of research fraud are relatively rare. In 1989, however, the HHS started an Office of

Scientific Integrity to address this issue (Neuman, 1991, p. 438; "Fraud in Research," 1994).

Perhaps the most celebrated case of a researcher's dishonesty was that of Sir Cyril Burt, a

famous British psychologist, whose studies on twins had demonstrated the inherited nature of

intelligence. After his death, researchers discovered that he had faked his data and that he had even

created nonexistent coauthors (Wade, 1976). It should be noted, however, that more recent investigations

of the Burt affair have drawn differing conclusions (Hearnshaw, 1979), with some

reviewers indicating that Burt was innocent of outright fraud and that some of his detractors may

have been guilty of character assassination (Joynson, 1989; Fletcher, 1991). In 1995, Dr. Gerald L.

Gerson, after examining Louis Pasteur's 102 laboratory notebooks, charged that Pasteur had

misled, lied, secretly stolen a rival's techniques, and otherwise deceived the scientific world in

order to receive grants, patents, and awards (Altman, 1995). Exhibit 2.3 depicts two legendary

research scams.

Plagiarism, as most college students know, is a type of fraud in which a writer presents the

ideas or work of someone else as his or her own. Prominent figures such as Senator Joseph

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Chapter 2 • Ethics in Criminal Justice Research 37

Biden, Alex Haley, John Hersey, Martin Luther King, Jr., Doris Kearns Goodwin, and Stephen

Ambrose have been accused of plagiarism. Researchers should be very careful to properly

acknowledge-and therefore not take credit for or steal-the ideas of others (Broad and Wade,

1983; LaFollette, 1992). Some students mistakenly believe that since they can copy material with

the click of a mouse, they do not have to cite or acknowledge that the material was taken from

another source. Simply changing the order of wording in a text still requires citation. Figure 2.1

presents some additional issues regarding plagiarism.

Publishers of academic journals have begun to use anti-plagiarism software such as

iParadigms, Turnitin, and CrossCheck to detect plagiarism (Rampell, 2008, p. A17). The Office

of Research Integrity (ORI) is a federal agency supported by the U.S. Public Health Service that

is concerned with detecting and preventing scientific misconduct. It evaluates all of the investigative

records submitted by institutions and helps determine whether there has been any misconduct

at institutions that receive support from the HHS. According to the U.S. federal definition of

research misconduct, it includes fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism in proposing, performing,

or reviewing research or in reporting research results (Titus, Wells, and Rhodes, 2008). In

2006, 2,212 research scientists, a 51 percent response rate, responded to a survey of research

misconduct. Of these, 192 scientists (8.7 percent) indicated having observed or of having direct

evidence of researchers in their own department committing one or more incidents of misconduct

over the past three academic years. They described a total of 265 incidents (Titus, Wells,

and Rhodes, 2008).

Scientific misconduct may involve any number of other offenses including negligence,

deception, cover-ups of misconduct, reprisals against whistleblowers, malicious allegations of

misconduct in science, and even violations of due process in the handling of misconduct

("On Being a Scientist," 1998). Other categories of misbehavior may include sexual or other forms

of harassment, misuse of funds, gross negligence in professional activity, and/or tampering with the

experiments of others or with instrumentation and violations of government research regulations.

EXHIBIT 2.3

Legendary Research Scams

Most famous cases of research fraud have taken

place in medicine and the physical sciences, but two

cases in the social sciences have raised considerable

controversy: the "Piltdown Hoax" and the "Tasaday

Hoax." The Piltdown Hoax was perpetrated in

England in 1911 with the claim that the fossil

remains of the evolutionary "missing link" between

apes and humans had been discovered. The

unearthed bones had some features of humans and

some features of apes. In the 1950s, researchers

using carbon dating were able to document that the

remains were of recent origin, that the human skull

had simply been combined with portions of the jaw

of an orangutan, and then the entire remains were

treated to appear to be very old in origin (Broad and

Wade, 1983; Weiner, 1955; Spencer, 1990).

A similar outright fraud took place in the

1970s in the Philippines. Television documentaries

were made on, and large-scale media exposure

was given to, the discovery of a lost tribe, the

Tasaday, a peaceful, "Stone Age" community that

had no previous contact with the modern world.

Later investigations revealed that no humans had

probably ever lived on the supposed Tasaday

Island and that the entire hoax had involved

government officials encouraging local peasants

to pretend to be primitives in order to attract

tourists or other publicity (Marshall, 1989).

38 Chapter 2 • Ethics in Criminal Justice Research

FIGURE 2.1 Plagiarism. (Source: Payton, Melissa. Evaluating Online Resources with Research Navigator: Criminal

Justice, 23-27. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Pearson/Prentice Hall, 2004. www.researchnavigator.com.)

Plagiarism involves the theft of another person's words or ideas and presenting them as your own. The

advent of the Internet in particular raises problems in that some students mistakenly believe that, because

they can easily copy such material with the click of a mouse, the information does not have to be referenced,

cited, or acknowledged in any other way. Others mistakenly assume that their professors will be unable to

track down the actual sources of information; this is no longer the case since professors now have access to

Web sites that can search the Internet for plagiarized material.

The most blatant forms of plagiarism involve the use of another's work, the purchase of research

papers, or knowingly copying whole sections of another work into a paper without acknowledgment. Simply

changing sentence order or a few words in a passage is not enough-it is still plagiarism.

AVOIDING PLAGIARISM

While you should credit it sources for ideas or words that are not your own, it is not necessary to document

the obvious or common knowledge. Paraphrasing involves restating "in your own words"materials written

or spoken by another person; you reflect the original material in your own words. Merely changing a few

words and the order of phrases is plagiarism, not paraphrasing. In taking notes and collecting sources for

your paper, be sure to keep track of your sources so that you can later properly acknowledge them. Your

professor may require different documentation styles, although most prefer the APA (American Psychological

Association) style (see www.researchnavigator.com). It is crucial that sources be cited and acknowledged

within the text itself. A paper featuring no cited sources followed by a list of works used is not acceptable.

Directly quoted material should be identified by means of quotation marks

THE RESEARCHER'S ROLE

Ethical concerns in criminal justice research raise potential problems for the researcher with

respect to the various roles she or he must often play. The role of researcher as scientist may

intersect with, and sometimes conflict with, the roles of criminal justice practitioner, citizen, and

humanitarian. Rabow (1980), for instance, sees the conflict of scientific and treatment roles in

corrections as hindering the effort to improve and apply treatment successfully.

The role of researcher requires that one be objective and "value free" in approaching and

reporting on the subject matter. As was indicated, particularly in our previous treatment of participant

observational studies of criminals, such a stance often impinges on one's concept of the

proper role of a criminal justice practitioner. The practitioner is involved in programmatic efforts

to prevent, rehabilitate, and otherwise process criminals and/or crime. Such a role obviously

conflicts with the role of neutral observer and scientist. Similar conflicts may take place with

one's role as citizen or humanitarian, wherein one is concerned with cooperating with public

officials or expressing concern and supporting efforts for eliminating inequitable social conditions

or human maladies. In a classic statement, Polsky directs himself to the moral issues of

field studies of criminals:

If one is effectively to study adult criminals in their natural settings, he must

make the moral decision that in some ways he will break the law himself. He need

not be a "participant" observer and commit the criminal acts under study, yet he

has to witness such acts or be taken into confidence about them and not blow the

Researcher's

role

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Chapter 2 • Ethics in Criminal Justice Research 39

whistle. . . . According to Yablonsky, nonmoralizing on the part of the researcher,

when coupled with intense interest in the criminal's life, really constitutes a

romantic encouragement of the criminal. . . . [Polsky feels] the burden of proof

rests upon those who claim that abstention from moralizing by the field investigator

has any significantly encouraging effect on criminal's lifestyles, and they

have not supplied one bit of such proof. Finally, our society at present seems

plentifully supplied with moral uplifters in any case, so one needn't worry if a

few sociological students of crime fail to join the chorus. (Polsky, 1967, p. 139)

The National Advisory Committee on Criminal Justice Standards and Goals addresses the

intersection of researcher as scientist, researcher as criminal justice practitioner, and researcher

as citizen:

Criminal justice researchers who are funded by, work closely with, or are employees

of agencies whose functions include law enforcement can encounter ethical problems

when they appear to assist in law enforcement activities. Although most researchers

would support the objective of enhancing the effectiveness of the criminal justice

system and recognize their duties as citizens to do so, the progress of research may

nonetheless be undermined by failure to distinguish between their roles as researcher

and the roles of other criminal justice personnel. The burden of maintaining this

distinction falls on both researchers and agencies, but researchers who study any type

of organization should guard against having to assume any nonresearch roles or even

appearing to do so. (National Advisory Committee, 1976, p. 131)

In self-mediating the potential conflicting roles of the criminal justice researcher, it is

incumbent upon the investigator to enter the setting with eyes wide open. A decision must be

made beforehand on the level of commitment to the research endeavor and the analyst's ability to

negotiate the likely role conflicts. Although there are no hard and fast rules and each research

enterprise is in many ways a unique reality, the researcher's primary role is that of scientist. That

is not to say that this role should in all cases take total precedence over other agenda; however,

the researcher should determine limits, priorities, and subject accountability as soon as practicable

in embarking on a study (Reynolds, 1982; Punch, 1986).

RESEARCH TARGETS IN CRIMINAL JUSTICE

Criminal justice research focuses on a variety of targets or subject matter: the criminal, the

victim, the criminal justice system, and practitioners, as well as the general public. Each of

these topics raises unique ethical problems or concerns for the investigator. One group that

has been a traditional source of research subjects and of increasing controversy has been the

incarcerated.

A national prison research commission report questioned the legitimacy and ethicality of

prison research in the United States. They doubted whether prisoners' voluntary decisions to

participate in studies reflect volunteerism or fear that not to "volunteer" would bring reprisals.

Instead of banning all such investigations, the committee called for a review by outside boards

that would be made up of various constituencies including prisoners, prisoner advocates, and

representatives of racial and cultural minorities (Branson, 1977).

Research

targets in

criminal

justice

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40 Chapter 2 • Ethics in Criminal Justice Research

Professional

ethics

Ethical

Principles for

Criminal

Justice

Research

ETHICS AND PROFESSIONALISM

Criminologists and criminal justice researchers as social scientists strive for acceptance as

professionals. The regulation of ethically acceptable research conduct may take one of three forms:

Codes of ethics and institutional review boards, which are adopted by professional associations

or institutions doing research (such as universities).

Procedures imposed by the federal government (primarily to regulate biomedical research,

but with bearing on social research).

Legal regulation in the courts (Reynolds, 1982, p. 100).

Following what has been identified as the "classic professionalism model," occupations

and occupational incumbents attempt to convince the public, lawmakers, and other professionals

that they are deserving of high respect, prestige, autonomy, privilege, and remuneration on the

basis of two key elements (Hagan, 1975). The first is that the occupation begins to generate its

own esoteric and useful knowledge. Many of the methodological issues addressed in this text are

illustrative of major steps that have been taken in this direction. Unless criminologists and criminal

justice researchers view themselves as simply efficient, bureaucratic technocrats or social

accountants, it is essential that its incumbents ascribe to a code of ethics, a dedication to service

or science in which trust, integrity, and ethicality is assumed. Thus, on the basis of the knowledge

and service (ethics) dimensions, occupations may claim or be granted autonomy or high professional

regard. Public askance of claims by car sales personnel, insurance agents, morticians,

florists, and the like basically questions the relevance or applicability of this model to all who

aspire. Criminologists and criminal justice investigators, unless they wish to be regarded in the

same league as used car salespeople with a gimmick, must encourage the highest of ethical ideals

not only in dealing with clients, but also in conducting research. Furthermore, such regulation of

conduct must be mandated from within the profession, rather than solely being imposed by

outside government funding agencies (Hagan, 1975).

Some take strong issue with this view and see professional ethics as "a deceit and a snare"-

a means by which the establishment within an occupation can control and hide its activity from the

public and thereby create a monopoly. Even if the occupation takes its self-policing seriously, it is

used as a club to control deviance of the more creative nonestablishment members whose new ideas

are vital, particularly for young professions (Douglas, 1979, p. 13). Douglas feels that ethical rules

are created for outside public consumption, so that an occupation can gain a monopoly, and have

little impact within the group. On the other hand, this view may be overly cynical because, if a

group refuses to set its own standards, whether rigid or flexible, it is solely at the mercy of outside

regulatory groups (such as government agencies) to set standards for it. Douglas seems to view

codes of ethics as a pincer attack on field studies by quantitative researchers within and government

bureaucrats without. Revisions of the HHS guidelines, to be discussed shortly, may, in part, have

calmed these fears.

ETHICS IN CRIMINAL JUSTICE RESEARCH

In 1998, the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences began drafting a code of ethics which included

a research code of ethics. The American Society of Criminology developed a similar draft that

year. This presentation is given very much in the same spirit used by the National Advisory

Committee on Criminal Justice Standards and Goals in describing its Ethical Principles for

Criminal Justice Research.

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Chapter 2 • Ethics in Criminal Justice Research 41

The intent . . . is not to propose a rigid set of guidelines for each researcher to follow.

Rather, the principles and recommendations call attention to contemporary issues that

neither policymakers nor researchers may have considered in a systematic manner.

The application of these principles and recommendations must be tailored to the

needs of each individual research project according to the unique conditions that

surround it. (National Advisory Committee, 1976, p. 38)

The last statement cannot be emphasized enough. Much of the academic guerrilla warfare

taking place regarding ethical codes is a reaction to the Orwellian "big brother" approach in

which dictating and controlling the research enterprise is common. Rigid commandments will

only invite subterfuge and hypocrisy. Reynolds (1982, p. 103) indicates that "the development

of federal procedures for prior review of research with human participants is dramatic evidence

of the failure of associations to convince the public that their members are to be trusted as

individuals or that the associations are to be trusted to control them."

Historically, the most important source of guidance for ethical research in the United States

was the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare's (HEW) Institutional Guide to DHEW

Policy on Protection of Human Subjects (1971), which requires that any grant recipients abide

by its stipulations. Since 1980, the most important source has been that of the HHS. Both the

codes of ethics of professional associations (internal controls) and federal requirements (external

controls) are constantly changing.

History of Federal Regulation of Research

Until revision of the HHS guidelines in 1981, bitter debate took place between the social science

research community and federal officials with respect to the applicability of informed consent

requirements (at that time, HEW guidelines) to much of social science research.

Initiated in the 1960s and eventually extended to all federally funded research, the guidelines

required the informed consent of research participants as well as prior review by IRBs weighing

the costs to participants versus the benefits to science and society. Although each agency, including

the Department of Justice, had its own separate requirements, the HEW (now HHS) procedures

were the most developed and tended to be adopted by the other agencies (Reynolds, 1982, p. 104).

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs) are research screening committees set up in colleges and

universities to oversee the ethical propriety of research.

In a sense, the original HEW guidelines were comparable to a researcher's "Miranda

warning"-basic information that must be assured with respect to the consent of research

subjects. The original 1971 HEW guidelines contained six elements for obtaining informed

consent (Code of Federal Regulations, 1975, pp. 11854-11858):

1. A fair explanation of the procedures to be followed, and their purposes, including identifications

of any experimental procedures.

2. A description of any attendant discomforts and risks that can be expected.

3. A description of any benefits reasonably to be expected.

4. A disclosure of any appropriate alternative procedures that might be advantageous for the

subject.

5. An offer to answer any inquiries concerning the procedures.

6. Instruction that the person is free to withdraw consent and discontinue participation at any

time without prejudice to him or her.

HEW

guidelines for

protection of

human

subjects

Institutional

Review

Boards

(IRBs)

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42 Chapter 2 • Ethics in Criminal Justice Research

Informed

consent

Because HEW supported both physical (particularly biomedical) and social science

research, these rules originally applied equally. Some critics suggested that this marriage produced

unworkable requirements, particularly when applied to field research.

The requirement that sponsored research include provisions for making the subjects aware

of the intentions of the study and sign informed consent forms obviously represented problems in

field research of deviants. Weppner saw two problems that this raised for Street Ethnography

(1977, p. 41): The first is the possible desire of subjects, if engaged in deviant or illegal activity, to

remain anonymous; and second, the difficulty of gaining informed consent from others who turn

up on-the-scene but are not the primary subjects of observation. He felt that a strict interpretation

of HEW guidelines would make street ethnography impossible and that the ability of subjects to

withdraw might also destroy random samples in other types of research. O'Connor, in reviewing

revised recommendations of HEW guidelines, also felt that, "If the recommendations of the

Commission are accepted as they stand, the covert observation debate, long an issue of contention

within social research, will have been settled" (1979, p. 253). The settlement would be a ban

against such research. Talarico (1980, p. 207) views the issue as a two-edged sword in that important

concerns for privacy may protect influential system officials from needed investigation.

Should criminal justice become a subject that studies solely volunteers?

Assuming that the specter of criminal justice researchers as mad Nazi scientists is misplaced

and that professional investigators do not go out of their way to harm or threaten the well-being of

respondents, some privacy invasion is necessary. Sometimes, investigative research strategies

involve deceit and infiltration as necessary approaches to studying hidden behavior. This intrusion

is tolerable if potential harm to respondents is avoided and if the researcher takes adequate steps to

assure that the respondents' identity is protected in any publications (Douglas, 1978). Such protection

may include, as Denzin suggests, the decision to delete or not report certain portions. Publication is

delayed until the subjects have left the scene, and thus the information is no longer threatening to

their status (Denzin, 1989, p. 336).

Informed consent was viewed as applicable in controlled biomedical and psychological

experimentation where researchers have definite plans for their subjects, but in fieldwork, the issue

was seen as less straightforward. Wax (1980, pp. 275-276) identifies six paradoxes of consent as

applied to the practice of fieldwork:

1. Many people studied may be semiliterate and not accustomed to the legal argot of forms.

2. Many will distrust a situation requiring their endorsement of a piece of paper.

3. Consent of subjects is a continual process dependent on mutual learning and evolution.

4. Knowing nothing of ethnography, they have no basis upon which to decide to give or not to

give consent.

5. Ethnography involves observation and discussion and not a rationalistic a priori analysis.

6. Fieldwork is an evolving process; thus the subjects of investigation are likely to shift

during the course of study.

A related question is "Are all subjects equally deserving of informed consent?" Public figures

and institutions can be observed by anyone and are less vulnerable than private citizens in private

places (Thorne, 1980). The right to privacy may not apply to Hitler, Stalin, the Ku Klux Klan

(KKK), or Murder Incorporated, (Fichter and Kolb, 1953). Galliher very lucidly makes this point:

While all people may be worthy of the same respect as human beings, it does not

necessarily follow that their activities merit the same degree of protection and

respect. As indicated earlier, Lofland questioned possible prohibitions on the

undercover study of fascist groups. It is questionable whether the files of the

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Chapter 2 • Ethics in Criminal Justice Research 43

American Nazi Party are deserving of the same respect as any other data source;

must one secure the active cooperation of the Ku Klux Klan, or for that matter of

the Pentagon, before conducting research in their organizations or with their

personnel? While doing research in South Africa, van den Berge concluded

"From the outset, I decided that I should have no scruples in deceiving the

government. . . ." The question is, how much honor is proper for the sociologist

in studying the membership and organization of what he considers an essentially

dishonorable, morally outrageous, and destructive enterprise? Is not the failure

of sociology to uncover corrupt, illegitimate, covert practices of government or

industry because of the supposed prohibitions of professional ethics tantamount

to supporting such practices. (Galliher, 1973, p. 96)

Application of the same rule intended to protect the powerless from powerful institutions is

misdirected (Galliher, 1980, p. 305). Applications of HEW standards to Woodward and

Bernstein's Watergate investigations would have changed the course of American history

(O'Connor, 1979, p. 264).

The Belmont Report

Reaction to concerns regarding written informed consent led to the National Research Act of

1974, which created the National Commission for the Protection of Human Subjects (NCPHS).

NCPHS reviewed the HEW guidelines and developed revised guidelines, The Belmont Report:

Ethical Principles and Guidelines for the Protection of Human Subjects of Research, in which it

proposed altering the role of IRBs so as not to interfere with the investigator's freedom of

research and recommended alteration of the informed consent in the case of field research

(HEW, 1978a). Although distinctions were made between biomedical and social science

research, the same restrictions on medical research in the Belmont Report were still used in overseeing

social science research.

The Belmont Report (National Commission for the Protection of Human Subjects, 1978a)

called for the recognition of three basic principles:

the principle of respect for persons

the principle of beneficence

the principle of justice

According to the principle of respect for persons, individuals are to be treated as autonomous

agents, and if autonomy is diminished, they are entitled to protection. The principle of respect for

persons is realized through informed consent. The principle of beneficence requires that research

not harm subjects and that possible benefits be maximized and potential harm minimized. This is

implemented through risk-benefit assessment. Finally, the principle of justice asks that both the

benefits and burdens of research be distributed equitably through the selection of subjects

(O'Connor, 1979, p. 229).

Perhaps the final resolution of the application of HEW regulations to social and behavioral

research took place in January 1981 with the publication of new regulations by the HHS. Taking

into account most of the criticisms by social scientists of the original regulations, it virtually

excludes most social science research from the regulations. The types of research excluded from

the review requirements are survey or interview procedures, observations of public behavior, and

the use of existing data if these are not linked to identifiers ("Regulations on the Protection of

Human Subjects," 1981).

Belmont

Report

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Research Methods in Criminal Justice and Criminology, Eighth Edition, by Frank E. Hagan. Published by Prentice Hall. Copyright © 2010 by Pearson Education, Inc.

44 Chapter 2 • Ethics in Criminal Justice Research

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

Since the Belmont Report, most of the decisions regarding protection of human subjects in

research are under the purview of IRBs. Any research conducted within the jurisdiction of the

university, its faculty, administration, or students is subject to its oversight. These committees

consist of professors as well as professionals from the community who check research proposals

in order to assure that no harmful procedures are employed, that participants are not in harm's

way and are availed informed consent, and that subjects' privacy and confidentiality are protected.

Studies should not begin until they have been approved by the IRB. Even though much social

science research is exempt, it must still be reviewed. In such circumstances, the proposal is

usually given an expedited review.

Berg (2007, p. 65) points out some of the controversy related to IRBs' expansion of their

authority and the potentially challenging academic freedom in research. Initially created to review

consent agreements to protect human subjects in federal government-funded research, over time

IRBs expanded their mandate to include all research in institutions funded or unfunded. The gauntlet

of obtaining IRB approval before undertaking a research project may have forced some to throw

in the towel and not pursue some research projects. Perhaps, IRBs became too big for their britches.

In response to the Belmont Report as well as criticism by social scientists of strict federal

regulations designed to regulate biomedical research, major changes in the HHS guidelines and

federal regulation of research took place on January 26, 1981 (Federal Register 46, no. 16,

8366-8392). These changes dramatically reduced HHS review over most social science research

and placed the actual decisions involving studies in the hands of IRBs-committees at the

researcher's home institution. Principal changes included the following:

The regulations apply only to research with human subjects conducted with HHS or

supported fully or in part by HHS funds.

Most areas of social science and criminal justice research, for example, most field studies,

are exempt from the regulations.

Many projects (particularly routine biomedical research) are now qualified for "expedited"

review, usually approval by only one member of the IRB.

The new federal regulations were viewed as minimal standards, and local IRBs could require

higher standards if they wished. The new guidelines acknowledge that HHS has no jurisdiction

over research receiving no federal funding.

Figure 2.2 illustrates the procedures one must address in order to have one's research

proposal approved by an IRB.

The actual procedures will vary, of course, by institution. Most are posted on college or

university Web sites. While admitting that IRBs have done much to protect human research subjects,

some feel that we may have unnecessarily handicapped researchers who pose little harm to

subjects and that we should exempt such low-risk research from federal regulations (Shamoo,

2007, p. B16). Current practice may accomplish this in part through "expedited review," in which

a member of the IRB may give quick approval of such low-risk research. The American

Association of University Professors' Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure issued a

report in 2006 indicating that the IRBs may have overextended their reach into areas such as oral

history, cultural anthropology, and journalism, which involve little risk. Such regulation of

studies may violate the First Amendment by restraining a faculty member's free speech

(Shamoo, 2007, p. B16). The committee also indicated that regulation of studies involving public

data and undergraduate class projects should also be exempt.

ISBN 0-558-58864-6

Research Methods in Criminal Justice and Criminology, Eighth Edition, by Frank E. Hagan. Published by Prentice Hall. Copyright © 2010 by Pearson Education, Inc.

PAGE 1

Date Submitted: Advisor's Name (if applicable):

Investigator(s): Advisor's Signature of Approval:

Check here if advisor has approved research

Address: Title of Research Project:

E-mail: Date of Initial Data Collection:

Telephone Number:

Please describe the proposed research and its purpose, in narrative form:

Indicate the materials, techniques, and procedures to be used (submit copies of materials):

PAGE 2

1. Do you have external funding for this research (money coming from outside the College)?

Yes No

Funding Source (if applicable): _________________________________________________________

2. Will the participants in your study come from a population requiring special protection; in other

words are your subjects someone other than Mercyhurst College students (i.e., children 17 years old

or younger, elderly, criminals, welfare recipients, persons with disabilities, NCAA athletes)?

Yes No

If your participants include a population requiring special protection, describe how you will obtain consent

from their legal guardians and/or from them directly to insure their full and free consent to participate.

Indicate the approximate number of participants, the source of the participant pool, and recruitment

procedures for your research:

Will participants receive any payment or compensation for their participation in your research

(this includes money, gifts, extra credit, etc.)? Yes No

If yes, please explain:

3. Will the participants in your study be at any physical or psychological risk (risk is defined as any

procedure that is invasive to the body, such as injections or drawing blood; any procedure that

may cause undue fatigue; any procedure that may be of a sensitive nature, such as asking

FIGURE 2.2 Mercyhurst College, Institutional Review Board Research Proposal. (continued)

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Research Methods in Criminal Justice and Criminology, Eighth Edition, by Frank E. Hagan. Published by Prentice Hall. Copyright © 2010 by Pearson Education, Inc

46 Chapter 2 • Ethics in Criminal Justice Research

questions about sexual behaviors or practices) such that participants could be emotionally or

mentally upset? Yes No

Describe any harmful effects and/or risks to the participants' health, safety, and emotional or social

well-being, incurred as a result of participating in this research, and how you will insure that these risks

will be mitigated:

4. Will the participants in your study be deceived in any way while participating in this research?

Yes No

If your research makes use of any deception of the respondents, state what other alternative (e.g.,

non-deceptive) procedures were considered and why they weren't chosen:

5. Will you have a written informed consent form for participants to sign, and will you have appropriate

debriefing arrangements in place? Yes No

PAGE 3

Describe how participants will be dearly and completely informed of the true nature and purpose of the research,

whether deception is involved or not (submit informed consent form and debriefing statement):

Please include the following statement at the bottom of your informed consent form: "Research at

Mercyhurst College which involves human participants is overseen by the Institutional Review

Board. Questions or problems regarding your rights as a participant should be addressed to Dr. Terry

F. Pettijohn; Institutional Review Board Chair; Mercyhurst College; 501 East 38th Street, Erie,

Pennsylvania(NNN) NNN-NNNN Telephone (XXX) XXX-XXXX."

6. Describe the nature of the data you will collect and your procedures for insuring that confidentiality

is maintained, both in the record keeping and presentation of this data:

7. Identify the potential benefits of this research on research participants and humankind in general.

Please submit this file and accompanying materials to the IRB Chair, Terry Pettijohn, via electronic mail

(XXXXX@XXXXXX.XXX) for review (revised 8/2003 tfp).

Source: Reproduced with permission of the Mercyhurst College Institutional Review Board.

(Continued )

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Research Methods in Criminal Justice and Criminology, Eighth Edition, by Frank E. Hagan. Published by Prentice Hall. Copyright © 2010 by Pearson Education, Inc.

Chapter 2 • Ethics in Criminal Justice Research 47

Research Activities Exempt from HHS Review

Research activities exempt from HHS review include research in educational settings related

to normal educational practices, such as curriculum strategies and instructional techniques.

Also exempt is research using educational tests, as long as confidentiality is maintained. Most

important to social science researchers is the general exemption for research involving survey

or interview procedures, except where all of the following conditions exist:

Responses are recorded in such a manner that the human subjects can be identified, directly

or through identifiers linked to subjects.

The subject's responses, if they became known outside the research, could reasonably place

the subject at risk of criminal or civil liability or be damaging to the subject's financial

standing or employability.

The research deals with sensitive aspects of the subject's own behavior such as illegal

conduct, drug use, sexual behavior, or use of alcohol. All research involving survey or

interview procedures is exempt, without exception, when the respondents are elected

or appointed public officials or candidates for public office.

Similarly, research involving the observation (including observation by participants) of

public behavior is exempt, except where all of the following conditions exist:

Observations are recorded in such a manner that the human subjects can be identified,

directly or through identifiers linked to the subjects.

The observations recorded about the individual, if they became known outside the

research, could reasonably place the subject at risk of criminal or civil liability or be

damaging to the subject's financial standing or employability.

The research deals with sensitive aspects of the subject's own behavior such as illegal

conduct, drug use, sexual behavior, or use of alcohol.

Research involving the study of existing data, documents, records, pathological specimens,

or diagnostic specimens is exempt, if these sources are publicly available or if the information is

recorded by the investigator in such a manner that subjects cannot be identified, directly or

through identifiers linked to the subjects (Federal Register, 1981, pp. 386-388).

The specific areas identified for expedited review had relevance primarily to biochemical

rather than social science research, for example, the use of medical and dental diagnostic

equipment. The one area that had some relevance was studies of perception, cognition, game

theory, or test development in which there is little stress placed on, or manipulation of, subjects

(Federal Register, 1981, p. 8392).

Projects that are not exempt still require full review, in which case the IRB must weigh the

cost and benefits of such studies.

[T]he IRB is expected to consider the extent to which risks to the participants are

minimized, the relationships between risks and anticipated benefits of research, and

the importance of the knowledge to be developed. The IRB will also consider the

equitable selection of subjects and the acquisition and documentation of informed

consent, it will monitor participants when necessary to ensure their safety and make

provisions for protecting their privacy. If participants are vulnerable to coercion

(such as mental patients and children), additional safeguards should be considered.

(Reynolds, 1982, p. 106)

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Research Methods in Criminal Justice and Criminology, Eighth Edition, by Frank E. Hagan. Published by Prentice Hall. Copyright © 2010 by Pearson Education, Inc.

48 Chapter 2 • Ethics in Criminal Justice Research

The "Elements of Informed Consent" applicable to nonexempt programs detail specific

guarantees to subjects required of all projects, additional requirements for more hazardous

projects, exceptions for evaluations of existing public programs, and exceptions for "deceptive

research" in which subjects are informed afterward so as not to destroy the scientific purposes of

the project (Federal Register, 1981, pp. 8389-8390). These are expanded requirements of the

original HEW guidelines discussed previously. There are fewer objections by social researchers

now, because most of their projects are exempt.

In reviewing federal regulation of research, the National Research Act of 1974 had created

IRBs to monitor research, but ambiguous guidelines from the HEW and the utilization of

biomedical guideposts created a storm of protests from social scientists. The revised regulations

represented a victory of sorts for the social sciences.

Initially, the withdrawal of some government regulation over many areas of social research

was a recognition that professional groups will regulate their own ethical conduct. However,

giving much of the regulatory power to IRBs may have opened yet again a "Pandora's box."

Ferrell and Hamm (1998, p. xiv) indicate:

Beginning in the late 1970s, but not fully taking hold until the 1990s, Institutional

Review Boards (IRBs) at most colleges and universities have made ethnographic

work on criminal and deviant groups almost impossible to conduct. Even the new

Code of Ethics of the American Sociological Association yields to the decisions of

these boards, claiming that if projects are disapproved by these agencies, the

research, in the association's eyes, is unethical. Potentially gone, then, is any

ethnographic research involving a covert role for the investigator (thus removing

hidden populations further from view), any ethnographic research on minors that

does not obtain parental consent (obviously problematic for youth involved in

deviance and crime or who are victims of parental abuse), and any ethnographic

research on vulnerable populations or sensitive (including criminal) issues without

signed consent forms that explicitly indicate the researcher's inability to protect

subjects' confidentiality.

Ferrell and Hamm (1998, p. xv) conclude that government forces do not believe that

researchers can police themselves.

National Institute of Justice's Human Subject Protection

Requirements

NIJ's Regulations on Confidentiality protect individuals by forbidding the use of any

research or statistical information that might identify them. In addition, the Institute has

adopted the HHS Model Policy on Human Research Subjects. This policy requires that each

institution engaged in NIJ research provide written assurance that it will comply with these

regulations as codified at 45 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 46. Pursuant to that policy,

each research project falling within the guidelines established by HHS must be approved by

the recipient's IRB prior to initiation of the project. Approval by the IRB need not precede the

submission of a proposal to NIJ but it must be obtained prior to the beginning of any research

activity (NIJ, 1994). Applicants should file their plans to protect sensitive information as part

of their proposal. Necessary safeguards are detailed in 28 Code of Federal Regulations

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Research Methods in Criminal Justice and Criminology, Eighth Edition, by Frank E. Hagan. Published by Prentice Hall. Copyright © 2010 by Pearson Education, Inc

Chapter 2 • Ethics in Criminal Justice Research 49

Shield laws

paragraph 22. A short "how-to" guideline for developing a privacy and confidentiality plan can

be obtained from NIJ program managers.

In addition, the U.S. Department of Justice has adopted Human Subjects policies similar

to those established by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. In general, these

policies exempt most NIJ-supported research from IRB review. However, the Institute may

find in certain instances that subjects or subject matters may require IRB review. These

exemptions will be decided on an individual basis during application review. Researchers are

encouraged to review 28 CFR 46, paragraph 46.101 to determine their individual project

requirements (NIJ, 1994, p. 30).

The federal policy on human subjects that formerly applied to HHS research (45 CFR 46, A)

has now been adopted by seventeen federal agencies including the Justice Department (28 CFR 46,

512, and 22). Subpart A, known as the Common Rule, may be found at www.hhs.gov/ohrp/policy/

under the category "policy guidance." It requires that informed consent include a statement about

how the researcher will maintain confidentiality (Sieber, 2001, p. 2).

CONFIDENTIALITY OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE RESEARCH

Regulations on the confidentiality of research and statistical data were enacted as part of the

1973 amendment to the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act. Section 524(a) reads:

Except as provided by Federal law other than this title, no officer or employee of

the Federal Government, nor any recipient of assistance under the provisions of

this title, shall use or reveal any research or statistical information furnished

under this title by any person and identifiable to any specific private person for

any purpose other than the purpose for which it was obtained in accordance with

the title. Copies of such information shall be immune from legal process, and

shall not, without consent of the person furnishing such information, be admitted

as evidence or used for any purpose in any action, suit, or other judicial or administrative

proceedings. (LEAA, 1979, p. 1)

This law basically constitutes a "shield law" for researchers performing federally funded

research. Shield laws constitute a governmental immunity from prosecution-a state-guaranteed

right to confidentiality for researchers if they are subpoenaed. "All identifiable research or

statistical information is with limited exceptions, immune from administrative or judicial

process" (Dahmann and Sasfy, 1982, p. 13). Investigators may be encouraged to probe more

sensitive topics because they are able to protect their data. This law also protects respondents

by ensuring that the data they have provided will not be used to invade their privacy. Guidelines

such as those of the HHS or NIJ are, of course, established, issued, and promulgated by federal

agencies, that is, governmental bodies outside of the occupation. They are intended for data

gathered under their auspices or sponsorship. Of primary concern is the fact that the Freedom of

Information Act of 1976 makes it possible for individuals to obtain access to nonclassified information

that is collected with public funds. This could include field data that could compromise

confidentiality. Trend, for instance, describes a project in which he was involved where, after the

fact, the General Accounting Office (GAO) requested "unrestricted access to certain records"

he and others had gathered as part of a Housing and Urban Development project. They wanted

the case files so that an audit could check family sizes and incomes as part of an eligibility study

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Research Methods in Criminal Justice and Criminology, Eighth Edition, by Frank E. Hagan. Published by Prentice Hall. Copyright © 2010 by Pearson Education, Inc

50 Chapter 2 • Ethics in Criminal Justice Research

(Trend, 1980, p. 344). Eventually, a compromise was worked out that allowed a GAO audit while

maintaining confidentiality. Trend, as a result of his experience, offers the following advice:

Telling people to read the contract they sign, to know how far they're willing to go if

pressed, and to not make promises they cannot keep all seems pretentious and sappy. . . .

In the end, the best advice I can give is to not be gulled into thinking that your notes are

sacrosanct and nobody can get to them no matter what. If you're sure of your contract,

your client, and your own resolve, then promising confidentiality in writing may increase

the chances that you can maintain it. However, if none of those prerequisites obtain, then

the time to stop and think is before you start the research. (Trend, 1980, p. 348)

In 1972, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that journalists had no right to refuse to name their

sources. Despite this, as of 2007, thirty-three states and the District of Columbia had enacted shield

laws for journalists (Kiely, 2007, p. 5A). Without guarantees of confidentiality, the likelihood that

whistleblowers and informants will provide important information is less. In many cases, prosecutors

have tried to turn journalists into witnesses and to break their promises of confidentiality.

Confidential information was instrumental in revealing abuses at XXXXX XXXXX Hospital, torture at

Abu Ghraib prison, Watergate, Enron, and drug scandals in professional sports. In 2007, the U.S.

House of Representatives passed legislation prohibiting courts and federal prosecutors from forcing

journalists to violate confidentiality, except in cases vital to national security or in prosecuting a

crime when proving guilt is not possible by any other means (When Reporters Can't Shield, 2007,

p. 12A). As of July 2008, the House of Representatives had passed this federal shield law legislation.

The U.S. Senate and President George W. Bush opposed such legislation even though the House bill

still requires reporters to disclose sources in cases of national security.

In addition to governmental regulations, more fully developed professions attempt to

police themselves and to establish their own guideposts for ethical conduct. In 1998, the

Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences adopted its code of ethics for research. See Exhibit 2.4.

EXHIBIT 2.4

Codes of Research Ethics of the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences (ACJS)

Objectivity and Integrity in the Conduct

of Criminal Justice Research

 

1. Members of the Academy should adhere to

the highest possible technical standards in

their research.

2. Since individual members of the Academy vary

in their research modes, skills, and experience,

they should acknowledge the limitations that

may affect the validity of their findings.

3. In presenting their work, members of the

Academy are obliged to fully report their findings.

They should not misrepresent the findings

of their research or omit significant data.

Details of their theories, methods, and research

designs that might bear upon interpretations of

research findings should be reported.

4. Members of the Academy should fully report

all sources of financial support and other

sponsorship of the research.

5. Members of the Academy should not make

any commitments to respondents, individuals,

groups, or organizations unless there is full

intention and ability to honor them.

6. Consistent with the spirit of full disclosure

of method and analysis, members of the

Academy, after they have completed their own

(continued )

ISBN 0-558-58864-6

Research Methods in Criminal Justice and Criminology, Eighth Edition, by Frank E. Hagan. Published by Prentice Hall. Copyright © 2010 by Pearson Education, Inc

 

 

Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Chapter 2 • Ethics in Criminal Justice Research 51

EXHIBIT 2.4 (Continued )

analyses, should cooperate in efforts to make

raw data and pertinent documentation available

to other social scientists, at reasonable

costs, except in cases where confidentiality, the

client's rights to propriety information and

privacy, or the claims of a field worker to the

privacy of personal notes necessarily would be

violated.

7. Members of the Academy should provide

adequate information, documentation, and

citations concerning scales and other measures

used in their research.

8. Members of the Academy should not accept

grants, contracts, or research assignments

that appear likely to violate the principles

enunciated in this Code and should disassociate

themselves from research when

they discover a violation and are unable to

correct it.

9. When financial support for a project has been

accepted, members of the Academy should

make every reasonable effort to complete the

proposed work on schedule.

10. When a member of the Academy is involved

in a project with others, including students,

there should be mutually accepted explicit

agreements at the outset with respect to

division of work, compensation, access to

data, rights of authorship, and other rights

and responsibilities.

11. Members of the Academy have the right to

disseminate research findings, except those

likely to cause harm to clients, collaborators,

and participants, those which violate formal

or implied promises of confidentiality, or

those which are proprietary under a formal or

informal agreement.

Disclosure and Respect of the Rights

of Research Populations by Members

of the Academy

12. Members of the Academy should not misuse

their positions as professionals for fraudulent

purposes or as a pretext for gathering intelligence

for any individual, group, organization,

or government.

13. Human subjects have the right to full disclosure

of the purposes of the research as early as

it is appropriate to the research process, and

they have the right to an opportunity to have

their questions answered about the purpose

and usage of the research.

14. Subjects of research are entitled to rights of

personal confidentiality unless they are waived.

15. Information about subjects obtained from

records that are open to public scrutiny

cannot be protected by guarantees of privacy

or confidentiality.

16. The process of conducting criminal justice

research should not expose respondents to

more than minimal risk of personal harm,

and members of the Academy should make

every effort to ensure the safety and security

of respondents and project staff. Informed

consent should be obtained when the risks

of research are greater than the risks of

everyday life.

17. Members of the Academy should take culturally

appropriate steps to secure informed

consent and to avoid invasions of privacy. In

addition, special actions will be necessary

where the individuals studied are illiterate,

under correctional supervision, minors, have

low social status, are under judicial supervision,

have diminished capacity, are unfamiliar

with social research, or otherwise occupy

a position of unequal power with the

researcher.

18. Members of the Academy should seek to

anticipate potential threats to confidentiality.

Techniques such as the removal of direct

identifiers, the use of randomized responses,

and other statistical solutions to problems of

privacy should be used where appropriate.

Care should be taken to ensure secure storage,

maintenance, and/or destruction of

sensitive records.

19. Confidential information provided by research

participants should be treated as such by

members of the Academy, even when this

information enjoys no legal protection or

privilege and legal force is applied. The obligation

to respect confidentiality also applies to

(continued )

ISBN 0-558-58864-6

Research Methods in Criminal Justice and Criminology, Eighth Edition, by Frank E. Hagan. Published by Prentice Hall. Copyright © 2010 by Pearson Education, Inc

52 Chapter 2 • Ethics in Criminal Justice Research

ETHICAL ISSUES IN CRIMINOLOGY/CRIMINAL JUSTICE RESEARCH

From what has been thus far indicated, there is no limit to ethical issues confronting criminal

justice researchers (Adamitis and Haghighi, 1989). Criminal justice researchers adhere to most

of these principles as a matter of professionalism, although as we will see, rigid adherence to

a checklist is simplistic and does a disservice to the complexity of the research experience. These

guidelines are often difficult to interpret in individual cases. The codes of ethics include that the

criminal justice researcher take personal responsibility to:

Avoid procedures that may harm respondents.

Honor commitments to respondents and respect reciprocity.

Exercise objectivity and professional integrity in performing and reporting research.

Protect confidentiality and privacy of respondents.

Avoid Research That May Harm Respondents

As a general rule, in the name of science, researchers should not conduct studies that may be

harmful to subjects, particularly if the potential harm has not been explained to the subjects and

their informed consent elicited. The National Advisory Committee on Criminal Justice

Standards and Goals suggests that participants give their formal consent to serve as subjects,

based on full knowledge of the experiment (National Advisory Committee, 1976, p. 38).

It is the researcher's duty to assume personal responsibility for all phases of the project as

it may potentially impinge on the well-being of subjects. If, after considering the ethicality of

research, problematic areas still exist, the investigator should seek out advice from university,

professional, or governmental committees to ensure adequate safeguards. Failure of a researcher

to obtain informed consent or give full disclosure of the study to respondents increases the need

to safeguard confidentiality. Thus, when deception is necessary in a study, it becomes more

incumbent on the people conducting the study to prevent harm and where appropriate debrief,

reassure, and explain the project afterward to subjects (Lee, 1993).

The informed consent issue is a complex one, particularly in correctional research. As

experimentation entails unequal or different treatment of experimental and control groups, is the

unequal treatment justified for research or scientific purposes? There is a major issue of

informed consent in prison research. Communication beforehand as to who is in the treatment

and who is not creates "reactivity" or "Hawthorne effects." There are studies in which the aim is

to hide the treatment in order not to arouse anxiety.

EXHIBIT 2.4 (Continued )

members of research organizations (interviewers,

coders, clerical staff, etc.) who have access

to the information.

20. While generally adhering to the norm of

acknowledging the contributions of all collaborators,

members of the Academy should be

sensitive to harm that may arise from disclosure

and respect a collaborator's need for

anonymity.

21. All research should meet the human subjects'

requirements imposed by educational institutions

and funding sources.

22. Members of the Academy should comply

with appropriate federal and institutional

requirements pertaining to the conduct of

their research.

Source: The full codes of ethics are available on the

Association's Web site: http://www.acjs.org/

ETHICAL ISSUES IN CRIMINOLOGY/CRIMINAL JUSTICE RESEARCH

From what has been thus far indicated, there is no limit to ethical issues confronting criminal

justice researchers (Adamitis and Haghighi, 1989). Criminal justice researchers adhere to most

of these principles as a matter of professionalism, although as we will see, rigid adherence to

a checklist is simplistic and does a disservice to the complexity of the research experience. These

guidelines are often difficult to interpret in individual cases. The codes of ethics include that the

criminal justice researcher take personal responsibility to:

Avoid procedures that may harm respondents.

Honor commitments to respondents and respect reciprocity.

Exercise objectivity and professional integrity in performing and reporting research.

Protect confidentiality and privacy of respondents.

Avoid Research That May Harm Respondents

As a general rule, in the name of science, researchers should not conduct studies that may be

harmful to subjects, particularly if the potential harm has not been explained to the subjects and

their informed consent elicited. The National Advisory Committee on Criminal Justice

Standards and Goals suggests that participants give their formal consent to serve as subjects,

based on full knowledge of the experiment (National Advisory Committee, 1976, p. 38).

It is the researcher's duty to assume personal responsibility for all phases of the project as

it may potentially impinge on the well-being of subjects. If, after considering the ethicality of

research, problematic areas still exist, the investigator should seek out advice from university,

professional, or governmental committees to ensure adequate safeguards. Failure of a researcher

to obtain informed consent or give full disclosure of the study to respondents increases the need

to safeguard confidentiality. Thus, when deception is necessary in a study, it becomes more

incumbent on the people conducting the study to prevent harm and where appropriate debrief,

reassure, and explain the project afterward to subjects (Lee, 1993).

The informed consent issue is a complex one, particularly in correctional research. As

experimentation entails unequal or different treatment of experimental and control groups, is the

unequal treatment justified for research or scientific purposes? There is a major issue of

informed consent in prison research. Communication beforehand as to who is in the treatment

and who is not creates "reactivity" or "Hawthorne effects." There are studies in which the aim is

to hide the treatment in order not to arouse anxiety.

EXHIBIT 2.4 (Continued )

members of research organizations (interviewers,

coders, clerical staff, etc.) who have access

to the information.

20. While generally adhering to the norm of

acknowledging the contributions of all collaborators,

members of the Academy should be

sensitive to harm that may arise from disclosure

and respect a collaborator's need for

anonymity.

21. All research should meet the human subjects'

requirements imposed by educational institutions

and funding sources.

22. Members of the Academy should comply

with appropriate federal and institutional

requirements pertaining to the conduct of

their research.

Source: The full codes of ethics are available on the

Association's Web site: www.ACJS.ORG ISBN 0-558-58864-6

Research Methods in Criminal Justice and Criminology, Eighth Edition, by Frank E. Hagan. Published by Prentice Hall. Copyright © 2010 by Pearson Education, Inc

.

ETHICAL ISSUES IN CRIMINOLOGY/CRIMINAL JUSTICE RESEARCH

From what has been thus far indicated, there is no limit to ethical issues confronting criminal

justice researchers (Adamitis and Haghighi, 1989). Criminal justice researchers adhere to most

of these principles as a matter of professionalism, although as we will see, rigid adherence to

a checklist is simplistic and does a disservice to the complexity of the research experience. These

guidelines are often difficult to interpret in individual cases. The codes of ethics include that the

criminal justice researcher take personal responsibility to:

Avoid procedures that may harm respondents.

Honor commitments to respondents and respect reciprocity.

Exercise objectivity and professional integrity in performing and reporting research.

Protect confidentiality and privacy of respondents.

Avoid Research That May Harm Respondents

As a general rule, in the name of science, researchers should not conduct studies that may be

harmful to subjects, particularly if the potential harm has not been explained to the subjects and

their informed consent elicited. The National Advisory Committee on Criminal Justice

Standards and Goals suggests that participants give their formal consent to serve as subjects,

based on full knowledge of the experiment (National Advisory Committee, 1976, p. 38).

It is the researcher's duty to assume personal responsibility for all phases of the project as

it may potentially impinge on the well-being of subjects. If, after considering the ethicality of

research, problematic areas still exist, the investigator should seek out advice from university,

professional, or governmental committees to ensure adequate safeguards. Failure of a researcher

to obtain informed consent or give full disclosure of the study to respondents increases the need

to safeguard confidentiality. Thus, when deception is necessary in a study, it becomes more

incumbent on the people conducting the study to prevent harm and where appropriate debrief,

reassure, and explain the project afterward to subjects (Lee, 1993).

The informed consent issue is a complex one, particularly in correctional research. As

experimentation entails unequal or different treatment of experimental and control groups, is the

unequal treatment justified for research or scientific purposes? There is a major issue of

informed consent in prison research. Communication beforehand as to who is in the treatment

and who is not creates "reactivity" or "Hawthorne effects." There are studies in which the aim is

to hide the treatment in order not to arouse anxiety.

EXHIBIT 2.4 (Continued )

members of research organizations (interviewers,

coders, clerical staff, etc.) who have access

to the information.

20. While generally adhering to the norm of

acknowledging the contributions of all collaborators,

members of the Academy should be

sensitive to harm that may arise from disclosure

and respect a collaborator's need for

anonymity.

21. All research should meet the human subjects'

requirements imposed by educational institutions

and funding sources.

22. Members of the Academy should comply

with appropriate federal and institutional

requirements pertaining to the conduct of

their research.

Source: The full codes of ethics are available on the

Association's Web site: www.ACJS.ORG ISBN 0-558-58864-6

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Chapter 2 • Ethics in Criminal Justice Research 53

Risk-benefit

ratio

Reciprocity

The protection of human subject guidelines is also viewed as proposing a risk-benefit ratio,

wherein the potential benefits must outweigh the possible hazards to respondents. That is, some

risks are justified as long as the scientific knowledge gained exceeds the potential harm. Douglas

(1979, p. 30) perhaps correctly suggests that in the final analysis the attempt to rationalize a

cost-benefit analysis of research borders on the simplistic in that the conclusion is almost always

going to be ruled in favor of science. Such a decision-making process converts the researcher into a

"moral administrator" who assumes the right to inflict harm on the subjects in the name of

science-once again the mad scientist hangup (Reiman, 1979, p. 45). Although an interesting

philosophical debate, the fact of the matter is that most criminal justice researchers simply have no

interest in being Dr. Frankenstein. Obviously, any research that is likely to impose long-term harm

on participants is anathema to ethical concepts of investigation. In the name of research, one should

not espouse behavior that would not be considered acceptable in normal interpersonal conduct. The

exclusion of most social science research from review by HHS guidelines was a frank recognition

that there has been little documented harm associated with such studies.

Honor Commitments to Respondents and Respect Reciprocity

Researchers have an ethical responsibility to keep any promises or agreements made with

subjects during and after the course of study. The notion of reciprocity involves a mutual trust

and obligation between researcher and subject. The researcher would have been unable to obtain

information without the cooperation of participants who were willing to share of themselves in

the belief that the investigator is obliged not to betray this trust by using the information in an

inappropriate manner or one that may prove harmful or embarrassing to the subject. Klockars

feels that simple researcher-subject models such as in biomedical research do not begin to

capture the complexity of reciprocal obligations in field research.

Vincent was not only my subject but also my teacher, student, fence, friend and

guide. Likewise to Vincent, I was not only researcher but biographer, confidant,

customer, friend, and student. These roles, most of which involve multiple obligations

and responsibilities and expectations, are potentially in conflict not only in

the researcher-subject dimensions but in other dimensions as well. To speak of the

working relationship between the life historian and his subject as a researchersubject

relationship simply misconstrues what happens in the context of life

history work. The researcher who treats his friends as subjects will soon find that

he has neither. (Klockars, 1977, p. 218)

Exercise Objectivity and Professional Integrity in Performing

and Reporting Research

Honesty, integrity, and objectivity are essential expectations of ethical professional conduct. The

researcher should attempt to maintain a value-free, politically indifferent approach to the subject

matter. Personal, subjective feelings should be kept separate from a disinterested scientific study

of things as they are. The researcher first and foremost is an investigator, not a hustler, huckster,

salesperson, or politician. Researchers should bar themselves from studying subjects or subject

matter for which they feel they cannot properly control potential subjectivity such as a strong

aversion or affinity toward the object of investigation.

It is important that researchers be frank and honest in conducting their affairs. Researchers

should not misrepresent their research abilities or generalize beyond their data. The researcher,

in addition to having a concern for accuracy, should avoid any statistical misrepresentations of

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54 Chapter 2 • Ethics in Criminal Justice Research

findings or purposely choose techniques that are most likely to produce positive results.

Unethical practices or sponsors who attempt to control the outcome should be avoided. Finally,

the researcher has a responsibility to communicate results to professional audiences that are in

the best position to judge the findings. Of course, the investigator should always give proper

acknowledgment to others who assisted in the research.

An example of a fake survey that clearly violated the rules of integrity was conducted by

Francis Flynn of Columbia University's Business School (Foster, 2001). In 2001, Flynn wrote

a letter on department stationery to 250 restaurant owners in New York City indicating that he

had been stricken with food poisoning after eating at their establishments. Flynn claimed to

be conducting a study of how owners respond to polite versus enraged-sounding customer

complaints. When one owner contacted the Dean of the Business School, the project was

canceled and letters of apology sent to the restaurant owners.

Protect Confidentiality and Privacy of Respondents

Erikson takes a very rigid stand in suggesting that the criminal justice researcher should avoid

deliberate misrepresentations of his or her identity when entering the private realm of subjects'

lives which otherwise would be barred to the researcher. He feels that it is generally unethical to

misrepresent the purpose of research (Erikson, 1978, p. 244). Although such an inflexible view is

not always appropriate, its general applicability to much research is warranted. To give a personal

example of naiveté regarding this matter, the author, while doing field research for a graduate

thesis, ineptly handled this privacy matter and almost sabotaged a research project.

In researching life in the early development of the new town of Columbia,

Maryland, the author began attending many community meetings to get a feel of

the temper of the pioneers in the young community. Having spotted an announcement

in the local paper of a meeting of the "Informal Discussion Group," whose

topic was to be the "Economics of New Towns," the author, after consulting with

his research mentor, attended the meeting. As perhaps should have been surmised

by the group's name, the meeting was very "informal" with less than ten people in

attendance and conversation never got around to the scheduled topic. The main

point of discussion revolved around griping by the residents about feeling like they

were living in a glass bowl. Sightseers on weekends created traffic jams outside

their homes; national news magazines had interviewed, at one time or another,

nearly everyone in the room or members of their family. Worse yet, one person

complained that he heard that the developer was bringing in his behavioral scientists

to see if "us rats are running the maze properly." At this point the author began

to feel very uncomfortable as I had failed to announce my purposes beforehand or

ask permission to attend the session. Finally, since everyone but the author had

participated in the discussion, one person indicated that he had not heard anything

from me. I then proceeded to explain that I was a graduate student doing research,

and he (a local councilman) took down my name and affiliation. Not surprisingly,

the meeting ended almost immediately afterwards even though I tried to explain

that I was a harmless researcher and not a spy for the developer. Needless to say

I regretted my naiveté in not making known my presence from the beginning, and

the feeling of having invaded one of the last privileged sanctuaries of the harassed

residents was very much impressed upon me. The very next day a representative

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Chapter 2 • Ethics in Criminal Justice Research 55

Confidentiality

of the developer (who had obviously heard from the councilman) requested and

had a meeting with the author and his mentor, and to his credit offered to assist in

my research on the community as long as the data gathering would avoid direct

participant observation. A study of the planning process was viewed as far less

obtrusive under the circumstances. (Hagan, 1968, p. 128)

The folly of naively approaching the research setting without making one's presence

known is certainly illustrated by this example. But what about secret observation? Erikson's

stance (1978) would exclude many subjects from inquiry. Roth (1962) suggests that in a sense,

most research design in the social sciences involves a level of deceit, because the exact nature

of the study is often hidden. The revelation of the true purpose would either bias the outcome or

eliminate the possibility of research (Henslin, 1972, p. 48). To answer a question we asked

earlier in this chapter, criminal justice should not restrict its research targets to volunteers.

Confidentiality. All social science researchers, including criminal justice investigators,

have a special obligation to protect the confidentiality of such information.

As indicated previously, confidentiality of government-sponsored research is guaranteed in

Section 524(a) of the Omnibus Crime Control Act of 1973 as amended. In gaining access to confidential

government data, the criminal justice researcher is generally interested in identification

of subjects for sampling and follow-up purposes.

Researchers rarely require records containing the direct identification of individuals

or organizations except during the initial stages of a project when possible personal

identifiers should be deleted or destroyed or if needed for follow-up link files (which

match coder identifiers to personal identifiers) should be stored in a remote and

secure location. (National Advisory Committee, 1976, pp. 42-43)

Government-sponsored research appears to provide safeguards to ensure confidentiality of

data. What of the private researcher?

ETHICAL PROBLEMS

Unlike priests, doctors, or other client-oriented practitioners, the independent criminal justice

researcher has no legally recognized privilege of confidentiality. Such researchers are then

potentially vulnerable to subpoena. In that sense, social science researchers find themselves in a

situation akin to the journalist in which they must decide whether they would be willing to go to

jail rather than violate confidentiality. Soloway and Walters (1977), in examining the

Pennsylvania Penal Code and decisions on this matter, clarify some of the issues regarding

researcher complicity or culpability. In most instances, the researcher would actually have had to

assist, aid, or abet the actual commission of a specific criminal act to be liable under statutes in

that state. Soloway and Walters proclaimed this warning:

Let us not bask too very long in this unaccustomed legal comfort, for, while such laws

seem to relieve us of responsibility prior to a governmental investigation, they pertain

very little after such an investigation has begun. Once a criminal investigation and/or

prosecution has commenced, we are still absolved of a legal responsibility to come

forward, of our own accord, with our information. Once summoned to so testify,

however, we have no legal recourse but to divulge our information and its source

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56 Chapter 2 • Ethics in Criminal Justice Research

under the threat and consequence of a contempt citation. This was made amply clear

in the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark decision in 1972 against Paul Branzburg,

a journalist investigating junkies in Kentucky, and Earl Caldwell, a journalist

investigating the Black Panthers and other militant black organizations. (Soloway and

Walters, 1977, p. 175)

These decisions basically held that a journalist or investigator had no privilege to refuse

appearance before a grand jury or to decline answering questions regarding sources or information

received in confidence. James (1972, p. 139) is the only case Soloway and Walters

could find that involved a scientific investigator being subpoenaed. In this case, the subpoena

was dropped when the investigator produced a previously signed agreement to safeguard the

confidentiality of sources.

Wolfgang (1981, 1982) reports that in his cohort study (Wolfgang et al., 1972) four

respondents admitted involvement in criminal homicide and that seventy-five were involved in

forcible rape for which none of them had been arrested. Members of the research staff could

have theoretically been prosecuted for "misprision of a felony" (being accessories after the

fact), which, although outdated in most states, is a federal offense.

Two anthologies explore this "no man's land" of field research. Ferrell and Hamm's (1998)

Ethnography at the Edge and Miller and Tewksbury's Extreme Methods (2001) examine ethical

dilemmas raised in studying active criminals in their natural settings. Other researchers who have

faced hazards in conducting their research have included: James Inciardi (1993), who was

arrested while conducting research in a crack house and also had a price put on his head by

a crack dealer; Bourgois (1989) was heavily questioned by police during his research on the

crack economy; while Armstrong (1993) was arrested and threatened during his field research on

British soccer fans.

Longmire (1983) in a survey of a sample of members of the American Society of

Criminology found that 63 percent indicated having experienced one or more ethical dilemmas.

With respect to ethical problems impacting on participants, the biggest problem was confidentiality

problems, with 9 percent so indicating. Professional ethical issues were more of a problem,

with 27 percent indicating that they had experienced pressure to engage in undesired research.

This involves primarily academic institutions "twisting the arm" of researchers to pursue research

in areas for which there is grant money.

Although vulnerability to subpoena is an ever-present threat to social science researchers,

Reynolds (1979) was able to find fewer than a dozen such cases and most incidents seemed to

involve newspersons.

In discussing the run-in with the law of Yablonsky (1968a), author of The Hippie Trip,

Irwin states that:

There has been some concern expressed over the danger of arrest while studying

criminals, mainly because the researcher will have firsthand knowledge of felonies

and misdemeanors. . . . To my knowledge the closest anybody ever came to having

legal sanctions imposed on him because of his research was Lewis Yablonsky. . . .

The judge asked him nine times if he had witnessed Gridley [one of his informants]

smoking marijuana. Yablonsky refused to answer because of the rights guaranteed

him in the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution. Although he did not

actually receive any legal sanctioning, he stated that the incident was humiliating

and suggested that researchers should have guarantees of immunity. Despite this

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Chapter 2 • Ethics in Criminal Justice Research 57

Pseudonyms

case, I feel there is small risk of being prosecuted. If we keep our "heads straight"

and avoid being sucked in or bowled over by the criminal world, and thereby do not

slip or plunge into greater complicity than knowledge of crimes, we actually do

have immunity. (Irwin, 1972, pp. 128-129; see also Yablonsky, 1968b)

In 1979, political scientist Samuel Popkin became the first American professor incarcerated

for defending his right to maintain confidentiality regarding The Pentagon Papers. Popkin had

refused to reveal his sources to a federal grand jury and subsequently spent one week in jail until

the jury was dismissed (Wolfgang, 1982, p. 395).

The Brajuha Case (Weinstein Decision)

In April of 1984, Judge Jack B. Weinstein of the U.S. Eastern District Court of New York ruled that:

Serious scholars [Mario Brajuha] cannot be required to turn over their fieldnotes in

a grand jury investigation when the government fails to establish a "substantial

need" for them to do so. Weinstein's ruling establishes a "qualified privilege not to

reveal documents or confidential sources" for social science researchers, akin to the

privileges enjoyed by journalists. . . . According to Weinstein, "Serious scholars are

entitled to no less protection than journalists." (Erikson, 1984)

The Weinstein decision cited as support the American Sociological Association's code of

ethics, which indicates that "Confidential information provided by research participants must be

treated as such by sociologists, even when this information enjoys no legal protection or privilege

and legal force is applied" (Erikson, 1984).

The researcher in this case was Mario Brajuha, a sociology graduate student at

SUNY-Stony Brook, who had been subpoenaed by a grand jury investigating a restaurant fire.

He had been doing a participant observation study of the restaurant as a waiter for ten months

prior to the fire and had collected data for his dissertation.

The Weinstein decision was appealed by the prosecutors and in a directive issued by the

court of appeals judge, a compromise of sorts was struck. Brajuha's defense attorney prepared an

edited version of Brajuha's field notes, which was accepted as sufficient to satisfy the original

subpoena and dismissed the case against him. As Brajuha's attorney explains:

From the beginning, Mr. Brajuha was prepared to testify as to his observations and

nonprivileged communications. . . . In the context of this case, a claim of privilege

with respect to (his) observations was unnecessary. The issues in this litigation centered

around the portions of the research journal which contained communications

with privileged sources and matters of personal privacy, for example, opinions.

(Thaler, 1985, p. 1)

A standard procedure for attempting to protect the identity of subjects, organizations, or

communities is the use of pseudonyms (false names) in publications. "Doc," "Chic," "The Lupollo

Family," "Deep Throat," "Wincanton," "Cornerville," "Slumtown," and "Middletown" are but

a few of the many aliases given such subjects, often to little avail. For instance, even the Trobriand

islanders were aware of Malinowski's books and one even indicated that he did not understand their

system of clans and chiefs (Barnes, 1970). Gans in The Urban Villagers (1962) noted that during an

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58 Chapter 2 • Ethics in Criminal Justice Research

election in the same West End Boston area Whyte had studied, one of the candidates had received

negative voter reaction based in part on Whyte's description of the individual years ago in

Streetcorner Society (1955).

Despite Klockars' efforts to protect his fence's identity, vanity won the day:

I also told Vincent that I would not reveal his identity unless it meant that I was going

to jail if I did not, and he told me that he really could not expect me to do more.

These contingencies notwithstanding, Vincent just could not resist a little advance

publicity.

He told everybody-judges, lawyers, politicians, prosecutors, thieves, hustlers,

and most of his good customers. He started this word-of-mouth publicity campaign

a full year before the book appeared in the New York Times Book Review; anyone

who did not know who Vincent Swaggi really was simply confessing that they were

outsiders to the Philadelphia scene. (Klockars, 1977, p. 214)

Vincent even sold and gave away autographed copies in his store, although he turned down

offers to appear on nationally televised talk shows. Threats to researchers may come from many

sources. In the Ofshe case, the threat was from an organization he studied, whereas in the

Hutchinson case it was from a member of Congress.

The Ofshe Case

Organizations or individuals may file lawsuits against researchers. In the 1960s, Synanon

(a drug rehabilitation program headquarters in California) had received widespread, positive,

national publicity. In the early 1970s, Richard Ofshe, professor of sociology at the University

of California at Berkeley, began an investigation of the organization and, along with journalist

colleagues, began to uncover and expose patterns of extreme violence and intimidation

employed by Synanon. In addition to scholarly works and an investigative newspaper series,

Ofshe and colleagues published a book which was later the basis of a CBS television movie

(Maldonado, 1987).

Since 1979, the Synanon foundation has filed three lawsuits charging Ofshe with libel and

slander. Although the cases were eventually dismissed or charges were dropped by the Synanon

litigants, Ofshe was fortunately assisted by the University of California at Berkeley with legal

costs, since the basis of the suits rested on his academic research. In 1987, Ofshe was awarded

over $500,000 for costs of litigation by a Marin County judge in connection with his fight against

the Synanon suits. "Based on a preliminary review, the amount is believed to be one of the most

substantial costs of litigation ever granted to an academic in a case involving pursuit of research

and academic freedom" (Maldonado, 1987, p. 3). Ofshe is continuing to press his legal case,

charging Synanon with malicious prosecution and hoping for a ruling that the suits were a form

of harassment and attack on academic freedom.

The Hutchinson Case

During the 1950s, the United States went through a period of "anti-Communist" hysteria led by

Senator Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin. Many people had their careers and lives ruined by innuendos

that they were, or had been, associated with Communists. During this period, intellectual

debate was intimidated or closed as researchers and others retreated from controversial

topics and the onslaught of political demagoguery. Beginning in the 1970s, a new brand of

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Chapter 2 • Ethics in Criminal Justice Research 59

McCarthyism presented itself, although this time the device was public ridicule and the charge

against its targets was that federally funded researchers were "ripping off" the taxpayers' money

on useless studies of "ridiculous" topics.

Ironically, one of the chief engineers of the new McCarthyism was the very man who took

the senatorial seat of the late Joseph McCarthy, the late Senator William Proxmire. Through his

infamous "Golden Fleece of the Month Awards," Proxmire intended to call public attention to

the waste of public tax money on research works whose titles sounded absurd. This ridicule of

specific research impugned the integrity and motivation of the researchers themselves, in particular,

Ronald Hutchinson. Proxmire ridiculed Hutchinson's work as making a monkey out of the

taxpayer, and he incorrectly charged that Hutchinson had personally realized a half-million

dollars in research funds. Even though representatives of the agencies that funded the research

praised it as well-executed and important, Proxmire continued his anti-intellectual attack,

ridiculing Hutchinson's work in the media and pressuring agencies to terminate funding.

Being singled out for the "Golden Fleece award" was a disaster for Hutchinson's professional

and personal life. His children were ridiculed at school and his family was subjected to hate mail and

phone calls. In a law suit brought before the U.S. Supreme Court, a settlement was agreed to in

which Proxmire issued a public apology on the Senate floor and paid Hutchinson $10,000 from his

personal funds. Even though Hutchinson experienced high legal fees, Proxmire's bill of $130,000

was paid by the U.S. Senate (Fund to Protect Scholars from Defamation, 1980).

Important in the Supreme Court's willingness to hear this case was its decision that

research scientists could sue for defamation of character even if they were receiving federal

research funds and that senatorial privilege did not extend to remarks made outside the Senate

chamber.

Although the Hutchinson case represents the most glaring example of what has been

characterized as the new McCarthyism, more subtle attacks certainly continue. A related concern

is the possibility that criminal justice and other social science researchers will concentrate

inquiry into fundable, safe, societally directed areas and thus avoid controversy or studies that

may uncomfortably focus on "crime in the suites."

Section B(7) of the American Sociological Association (ASA) Code of Ethics states:

"Confidential information provided by research participants must be treated as such by sociologists,

even when this information enjoys no legal protection or privilege and legal force is applied"

(American Sociological Association, 1984, p. 3).

The Scarce Case

In 1990, Rik Scarce was a Ph.D. sociology student at Washington State University and

published a book entitled Eco-Warriors: Understanding the Radical Environmental Movement

(Scarce, 1990). Using various sources, the book also utilized interviews with members of Earth

First!, the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, and the Animal Liberation Front (ALF). These

groups had been extensively involved in direct action campaigns and civil disobedience. He had

begun a dissertation on the Radical Environmental Movement. Scarce had been unaware that, as

a student, his research had to be preapproved by the university's IRB. When an ALF raid in

protest of animal experimentation took place on the campus, Scarce was subpoenaed to appear

before a grand jury.

Scarce was interrogated by FBI agents and subsequently jailed for 157 days for contempt

of court after refusing to violate the ASA code of ethics, which forbade him from sharing

confidential information with law enforcement authorities. Scarce warns that, if researchers

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60 Chapter 2 • Ethics in Criminal Justice Research

make absolute assurances of confidentiality, they should be fully aware of what those assurances

portend-"a conscious decision to go to jail rather than relent in the face of legal pressure to

violate confidentiality agreements" (Scarce, 2001, p. 271).

When an anthropologist involved in a medical lawsuit refused to turn over her field

notes, the American Anthropological Association issued a statement that said researchers

have "primary ethical obligations to the people, species, and materials they study . . . " but

these "may be affected by the requirements of other codes, laws and ethics of the country"

(Wilson, 2003). Instead of arguing in the courts for greater protection of confidentiality, some

social scientists have backed away from promising confidentiality. Rik Scarce states that this

view says, "I'll try as hard as I can [to protect confidentiality], but if worse comes to worse

I may have to give you up" (ibid.). New York Times reporter Judith Miller was jailed on

July 6, 2005, for contempt of court for not revealing who in the White House leaked the

identity of a CIA agent. She was later released when the informant, Scooter Libby (an aide

to Vice President Cheney), came forward. Scarce maintains that proposed congressional

legislation for shield law protection for such journalists should include social scientists

(Scarce, 2005a, 2005b).

Perhaps as a footnote to the Scarce case is another related to environmental issues. In

September 1998, the University of Denver "withdrew" an article that they had already agreed

to publish. The article, "The Critical Need for Law Reform to Regulate the Abusive Practices

of Transnational Corporations: The Illustrative Case of Boise Cascade Corporation in

Mexico's Costa Grande and Elsewhere," had been published in the Denver Journal of

International Law and Policy, September 1998 edition. The Summer 1999 edition printed an

"errata" notice that "this article has been retracted for its lack of scholarship and false content"

(Monaghan, 2000, p. A14). The authors, Professors Mark Buchanon, William Wines, and

XXXXX XXXXX, received the letter from the Boise Cascade Corporation, the target of criticism

in the article. Despite vigorous denials by the university, the authors claim that the university

caved in to the intimidation and did not even contact the authors before retracting their article.

University officials denied that threats of a lawsuit were instrumental in their highly unusual

decision. In August 2000, the authors filed a lawsuit in federal court in Idaho, arguing that

their reputations have been damaged and that university was guilty of breach of contract and

destroyed two years' worth of scholarship.

In yet another twist related to censorship (in this case sponsorship) of research, it was

reported in 1999 that Wyeth-Ayers Laboratories (producers of fen-phen, a diet drug that was later

found to be dangerous) hired ghostwriters for articles promoting the drug. It then used unknowing

prominent researchers to publish works under their names. Only two of the ten articles paid for by

Wyeth were published in medical journals before the drug was pulled from the market. Plans

to publish the others were canceled. The company claimed, "This is common practice in the

industry. It's not particular to us" (Diet drug, 1999).

Emphasis in large universities on obtaining research funding may force scholars to

abandon basic research and scholarship in favor of applied research and entrepreneurship, the

"corporatization" of higher education. The concern is with knowledge being viewed as a private

commodity rather than a public good and overemphasizing scholars as entrepreneurs rather than

scholars (Desruisseaux, 1999).

The issue of ethics in criminal justice research draws greater attention now than in the past.

Ethical concerns in research gain complexity with revisions in federal laws regulating privacy,

confidentiality, and freedom of information; debates continue in the various professional

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Chapter 2 • Ethics in Criminal Justice Research 61

disciplines involved in studying criminology and criminal justice. The desire to address these

issues is reflected in the establishment of a specialized journal, Criminal Justice Ethics.1

Additional Ethical Concerns

The parent disciplines to criminology/criminal justice, such as sociology, psychology, political

science, and anthropology have both unique and common ethical concerns, as reflected in

their codes of ethics. Because professionals pride themselves on autonomy and self-regulation,

these requirements are usually beyond any minimal standards set by government agencies.

Some specific ethical considerations are incorporated by these codes. Although every effort may

be made to preserve their anonymity, subjects should be made aware that they may unintentionally

be compromised. A researcher's pseudonyms should not be indiscriminately revealed.

Anthropologists indicate that, if secretive research is performed for a sponsor, such reports should

also be released to the public and subjects. Researchers should be honest with sponsors regarding

qualifications, capabilities, and harm, and open concerning the acknowledgment of sponsorship of

research. Any government-supported research should be unclassified, and researchers should not

use their research as a cover for government intelligence work.

If research has potential policy implications, it is even more imperative that investigators

state the limitations of their findings. Relationships that may compromise objectivity or create

a conflict of interest should be avoided. Psychologists insist on a high standard of competence,

including use of the latest rules regarding validity and reliability of tests and measurements

employed in research or practice. Political scientists have specific guidelines on involvement in the

political arena, often a necessary part of the discipline. Sociologists mirror most of these same

themes, but add that, regardless of work setting, sociologists are obligated to report findings fully

and without omission of significant data. Also as an ethical matter, researchers are obligated

to make their data available to other qualified social scientists at reasonable cost once they have

completed their study.

AVOIDING ETHICAL PROBLEMS

Because of the nature of the subject matter, ethical problems are likely to present themselves in

many criminal justice research projects. One way of avoiding ethical problems is to carefully

consider alternate means of data gathering that may not entail ethical problems. Some study

designs pose less hazard than others. For example, perhaps existing data or some other unobtrusive

method would make it unnecessary to collect new data. Rather than set up an experimental

group and a control group in a prison, one could locate two similar prisons that already constitute

natural experimental and control groups. Simulations, either human or computer, may enable one

to address the same issue without as much of an ethics problem. One could seek conditions under

which negative effects have already occurred (Bailey, 1987, pp. 407-410). Similarly, the use of

samples or only low levels of the treatment may reduce the potential harm.

The reporting of aggregative rather than individual data with proper prior destruction of

identifiers may ensure protection. Such simulations as "mock jury studies" may also avoid

ethical problems with real populations.

1 Published by Institute for Criminal Justice Ethics, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, 444 West 56th Street, New York,

NY 10102.

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Research Methods in Criminal Justice and Criminology, Eighth Edition, by Frank E. Hagan. Published by Prentice Hall. Copyright © 2010 by Pearson Education, Inc.

.

62 Chapter 2 • Ethics in Criminal Justice Research

In an earlier discussion of sample surveys it was pointed out that there is a potential growing

"respondent revolt" against the increased requests to participate in studies. All research is to some

extent an imposition on the lives or time of subjects. By the same token, research also poses, as

we have seen in this chapter, potential unethical impacts on those involved in a study. Although the

points set forth in this section can alert the investigator to broad guideposts, the actual research path

is in the last analysis the sole responsibility of the researcher.

Summary

Ethical horror stories were reviewed in order to document

some examples of unethical behavior in

research. Accounts of biomedical research by Nazis,

the Tuskegee Syphilis Study, experiments on prisoners,

as well as secretive research sponsored by intelligence

agencies preceded discussion of social science

examples. The latter included Milgram's "obedience

to authority" study, Zimbardo's "simulated prison

study," and Humphreys' Tearoom Trade. Zimbardo's

"Lucifer effect" refers to situations in which good

people do evil things. Plagiarism and researcher

fraud such as the Piltdown and Tasaday hoaxes were

also discussed as examples of scams and researcher

misconduct.

As one of the social sciences, criminal justice

must be concerned with many of the same issues of

ethical behavior in conducting research on human

activity. Potential role conflict exists for the investigator

who has to balance the roles of researcher, criminal

justice practitioner, citizen, and humanitarian. In

mediating these roles it is essential that the researcher

anticipate many of the possible points of friction

beforehand, keeping in mind that the researcher's

primary role is that of scientist.

Research targets in criminology and criminal

justice include the criminal, the victim, the criminal

justice system, practitioners, and the general public.

Each research situation presents its own unique set

of ethical problems, just as ethics itself is relative to

the setting. Although science itself is ethically neutral,

individual scientists cannot entirely avoid moral

concerns in studying human groups or individuals.

In aspiring for acceptance as professionals, criminal

justice researchers attempt to demonstrate that on

the basis of knowledge and ethical conduct they

should be granted autonomy and high professional

regard. Although this striving and establishment of

ethical codes may be viewed as a smokescreen to

gain monopolistic power, if a field fails to set its own

standards, the government will set the standards for

them. A code of ethical conduct in research that

exists in criminal justice was still in draft stage in

late 1998. The purpose of this chapter has been to

call attention to key features. Rather than a rigid set

of requirements, they might best be viewed as general

principles that must be tailored to the unique features

of individual research projects.

The most influential guidelines governing

funded research in the United States are those of the

HHS, Model Policy on Human Research Subjects.

Researchers involved in ethnography or field studies

were critical of the attempted application of these

informed consent guidelines to participant observation

studies and felt that they would make such

studies impossible. Fieldwork was viewed as different

in kind than biomedical and experimental studies

of controlled subjects. The National Commission for

the Protection of Human Subjects (1978a) in the

Belmont Report partially revised these guidelines,

putting their interpretation in the hands of review

boards and suggesting an alteration of informed

consent in the case of field research. Revision of

HHS guidelines in 1981 virtually excluded most

social science and criminal justice/criminological

research from required review.

In addition to government agency regulations

regarding funded research, professional associations,

for example, the American Sociological and

Psychological associations, have their own codes of

ethics governing research. Taking both governmental

and other professions' codes of ethics, some Ethical

Principles in Criminal Justice Research are presented

as suggestive elements of consideration in investigations:

(1) researchers should avoid procedures

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Chapter 2 • Ethics in Criminal Justice Research 63

which may harm respondents; (2) one should honor

commitments to respondents and respect reciprocity;

(3) investigators should maintain objectivity and

exercise professional integrity in performing and

reporting research; and (4) investigators should

protect the confidentiality and privacy of respondents.

In addition, discussion was presented that

criminal justice researchers should be alert to the fact

that they enjoy no legally recognized privilege of

confidentiality (except, of course, in some cases of

funded research that are restrictive in coverage).

Some ethical problems experienced by

researchers such as Brajuha, Ofshe, and Hutchinson

were discussed. Finally, some means of avoiding

ethical problems are the use of alternate methods that

possess fewer ethical problems, study groups that

possess characteristics or natural treatments, the use of

samples instead of larger populations, the reporting of

only aggregative data, the use of simulations, as well

as exposure of groups to only low levels of treatment.

In the last analysis, researchers must assume personal

responsibility for the morality of their research.

Key Concepts

Lucifer effect 32

Research fraud 36

Plagiarism 36

Role of researcher 38

Research targets in criminal

justice 39

Professional ethics 40

Ethical principles for criminal

justice research 40

Institutional Guide to DHEW

Policy on Protection of

Human Subjects 41

Institutional review boards

(IRBs) 41

Informed consent 42

The Belmont Report 43

NIJ's Regulations on

Confidentiality 48

Shield laws 49

Risk-benefit ratio 53

Reciprocity 53

Confidentiality 55

Pseudonyms 57

Review Questions

1. Research in criminal justice and criminology faces

many ethical hazards. How concerned should

researchers be with ethical conduct in research? What

is the researcher's role and what constitutes appropriate

conduct?

2. The regulation of ethically acceptable research conduct

may take one of three forms. Discuss these and include

your opinion as to which of these is most effective.

3. How did the new HHS guidelines resolve the principal

objections of field researchers to the informed consent

issue?

4. What are some elements of a code of ethics for criminology/

criminal justice research?

5. Discuss some examples of researcher misconduct.

Why does this occur and how can it be prevented?

Useful Web Sites

Journal of Criminal Justice Ethics www.lib.jjay.cuny.

edu/cje/

Ethics and Justice www.ethics-justice.org/

Internet Research Ethics www.nyu.edu/projects/

nissenbaum/projects_ethics.html

Office of Research Integrity http://ori.dhhs.gov/

Association of Internet Researchers (Ethics Working

Committee) www.ori.dhhs.gov

Evaluating Web Sites: Criteria and Tools www.library.

cornell.edu/olinuris/ref/research/webeval.html

Office of Human Research Protections (IRB

Guidelines) www.hhs.gov/ohrp

National Academy of Sciences (Responsible Conduct

in Research) www.nap.edu/htm/obas/

Institute for Criminal Justice Ethics (John Jay

College) www.lib.jjay.cuny.edu/cje/

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THE END OF CHAPTER 2

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C H A P T E R

3 Research Design

The Experimental Model and Its Variations

The Experimental Model

Research Design in a Nutshell

Causality

Resolution of the Causality Problem

Rival Causal Factors

Validity

Internal Factors: Variables Related

to Internal Validity

History

Maturation

Testing

Instrumentation

Statistical Regression

Selection Bias

Experimental Mortality

Selection-Maturation Interaction

External Factors: Variables Related

to External Validity

Testing Effects

Selection Bias

Reactivity or Awareness of Being Studied

Multiple-Treatment Interferences

Related Rival Causal Factors

Hawthorne Effect

Halo Effect

Post Hoc Error

Placebo Effect

Experimental Designs

The Classic Experimental Design

Some Criminal Justice Examples of the

Classic Experimental Design

Candid Camera

Scared Straight

Community Policing

Exhibit 3.1 The Kansas City Gun Experiment

Other Experimental Designs

Posttest-Only Control Group Design

Solomon Four-Group Design

Preexperimental Designs

One-Group Ex Post Facto Design

One-Group Before-After Design

Two-Group Ex Post Facto Design

Cross-Sectional and Longitudinal Designs

Exhibit 3.2 The Cycle of Violence and

Victims of Child Abuse

Quasi-Experimental Designs

Time-Series Designs

Multiple Interrupted Time-Series Designs

Counterbalanced Designs

Some Other Criminal Justice Examples of

Variations of the Experimental Model

The Provo and Silverlake Experiments

Exhibit 3.3 Evaluations of Shock Incarceration

The Kansas City Preventive Patrol Experiment

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Research Methods in Criminal Justice and Criminology, Eighth Edition, by Frank E. Hagan. Published by Prentice Hall. Copyright © 2010 by Pearson Education, Inc.

Chapter 3 • Research Design 65

The Minneapolis Domestic Violence

Experiment

The Experiment as a Data-Gathering

Strategy

Advantages of Experiments

Disadvantages of Experiments

Summary

Key Concepts

Review Questions

Useful Web Sites

Research design is the plan or blueprint for a study and includes the who, what, where,

when, why, and how of an investigation. The research design should flow from the

problem formulation and critical issues that were identified for observation. Who is to

be investigated-an individual, one group, many groups, organizations, or communities? What

is to be investigated-attitudes, behavior, or records? Where is the study to be conducted? Do

we wish to look at the past (after-the-fact, post hoc, or a posteriori studies) or the present or to

predict the future? Do we want to look at a group once or over time? Why do we wish to do the

investigation-to describe, explain, or predict? Finally, how do we design the study so that

upon completion we are able to address the hypotheses and present findings that resolve in

some manner the research problem?

THE EXPERIMENTAL MODEL

Some people view experiments as involving white-coated scientists with an impressive assortment

of equipment tediously studying obscure phenomena in some isolated laboratory. Although

such a picture may indeed be accurate in some instances, the experimental model contains many

variations and should not be restricted to this stereotypical view. The experimental model will be

treated in this chapter as the benchmark for comparison of all other research designs and methods.

Most studies of an empirical nature in criminology and criminal justice can be viewed as

variations of the experimental model (Weubben, Straits, and Shulman, 1974; Campbell, 1977; and

Cook and Campbell, 1979). The research design notation (X's and O's) used in this chapter may at

first appear intimidating, but if you give it a chance, you will find it excellent shorthand for

dissecting any research study. This chapter contains more "researchese" than any other chapter,

but if you bear with it, you will be rewarded by becoming fluent in the language of research.

RESEARCH DESIGN IN A NUTSHELL

In learning something new such as swimming or driving, the initial lessons seem the most difficult;

once the foreignness of a new experience is overcome, the rest is relatively easy. Unfortunately,

learning research methods is similar. The language of research design in this chapter by its very

nature has this same foreignness at first. One philosophy is to teach something by simply doing it,

such as throwing the student in the deep end of the pool or on the fast lane on the Capitol Beltway

(which, incidentally, is where this writer learned to drive). Rather than following this practice

and throwing you in the deep end, let us begin with a short lesson. Read Figure 3.1, even if you

do not fully understand it. It provides the "guts" of the entire chapter. As you are reading or after

completing the chapter, you may wish to reread it because, if you understand Figure 3.1, you have

the underlying logic of research design.

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Research Methods in Criminal Justice and Criminology, Eighth Edition, by Frank E. Hagan. Published by Prentice Hall. Copyright © 2010 by Pearson Education, Inc.

66 Chapter 3 • Research Design

CAUSALITY

The ultimate purpose of all scientific investigation is to isolate, define, and explain the relationship

between key variables in order to predict and understand the underlying nature of reality.

The problem of causality has been a subject of continuing philosophical discussion, but scientific

investigation is based on the a priori assumption that the fundamental nature of reality can be

known-that causation lies at the basis of reality.

FIGURE 3.1 Research Design in a Nutshell.

X treatment (independent variable), e.g., Foot Patrol

Y outcome (dependent variable), e.g., Crime Rate

Z any rival causal factor (other variables besides X that could really be causing a change in Y),

e.g., history, selection bias, testing, etc.

O observation (some measurement or assessment of dependent variable)

E equivalence (randomization or matching)

1, 2 time

Design 1: O1XO2 (One Group Before-After Design)

  • A precinct with a crime rate of 1,000 (O1) is exposed to foot patrol (X) for one year and then has a crime

rate of 500 (O2).

  • Problem: Other variables (Z) could actually have caused the decline in crime rate (Y) rather than foot patrol

(X), e.g., History, Selection Bias, Testing Effects.

  • Solution: A better research design (such as Design 2) to control or exclude these rival causal factors

(or other variables).

Design 2: EO1XO2

EO1O2 (Classic Experimental Design)

  • Two precincts as similar as possible (E, matching) on relevant characteristics are studied.

Both are observed (O1) and have a crime rate of 1,000.

One precinct receives foot patrol (X) and is the experimental group.

The other precinct receives no treatment (control group).

After one year, the experimental precinct has a crime rate of 500 while the control group has a crime

rate of 1,000 (or no change). The decrease is attributed to foot patrol.

  • Rival causal factors (Z) were controlled for (excluded) by the classic experimental design, for example,

The change could not have been due to some historical event if we assume that both groups were

similar and exposed to the same history.

The change could not be due to selection bias because we purposely chose two similar or matched

precincts (E) and their crime rates were the same from the beginning (O1).

If there were testing effects (citizens were not surveyed; we used police reports), both groups should

have reacted the same to an awareness of being studied.

Thus, the relationship between X and Y is not due to Z [we have gained internal validity (accuracy)].

  • Problem: Can we generalize this finding (foot patrol reduces crime) to all police departments in the

country? This is the problem of external validity.

  • One Solution: Replications (repeat studies) in other settings with other police departments.

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Research Methods in Criminal Justice and Criminology, Eighth Edition, by Frank E. Hagan. Published by Prentice Hall. Copyright © 2010 by Pearson Education, Inc.

Chapter 3 • Research Design 67

Resolution of

Causality

Problem

Rival causal

factors

Spuriousness

Resolution of the Causality Problem

To approach this matter, scientific investigation basically entails three essential Steps for

Resolving the Causality Problem. The first step involves the demonstration of a relationship or

covariance between variables. That is, one variable is related, increases or decreases in value, in

some predictable manner along with increases or decreases in the value of another variable.

The second step consists of specifying or indicating the time sequence of the relationship. Which

variable is the independent or predictor variable X, and which is the outcome or dependent

variable Y? Generally, logic or knowledge of which variable comes first gives one the direction

of causation. For instance, it would make more sense to assume that criminality of parents (X)

would precede in time and possibly predict criminality in offspring (Y), rather than vice versa.

In most instances, one has little difficulty in identifying the outcome (Y) one is interested in

predicting. It is usually the subject of the study. Although this process of causality resolution in

research has been greatly oversimplified for presentation purposes, most studies of an empirical

and predictive nature in criminal justice can be found to undergo essentially the first two steps

that have been outlined. The third step is the stage where many studies bog down and where

research findings are subject to interminable debate. It involves the exclusion of rival causal

factors, or the elimination of other variables that could conceivably explain away the original

relationships the researcher had claimed. Other variables or rival causal factors may be responsible

for the variations discovered (Hirschi and Selvin, 1966).

In excluding rival causal factors, researchers are attempting to demonstrate that the

relationship between X and Y is nonspurious. A spurious relationship is a false relationship;

that is, one that is not caused by the believed variables but can be explained by other variables.

The presumed relationship between foot size (X) and intelligence (Y) may disappear

(be demonstrated to be spurious) when controlled for age (Z). That is, among thirty-year-olds

there is no relationship between foot size and intelligence.

To summarize and clarify this process, once again, the three essential steps in resolving the

causality problem are:

1. Demonstrate that a relationship exists between the key variables.

2. Specify the time order of the relationship.

3. Eliminate rival causal factors.

Suppose a researcher wanted to prove that a relationship exists between the increase in foot

patrols in a precinct and a decline in crime. Assuming that foot patrols have been increased in the

target precinct, the researcher looks at some measurement, such as precinct records of reported

crime. If no relationship between increased foot patrols and crime is discovered, the entire

process stops with step 1. There is little need to proceed if no relationship exists at all. If a

decrease or, for some reason, an increase in crime is discovered, however, the researcher

goes on to the next step. For our purposes, we will assume that an increase in foot patrols is the

predictor variable, X, and a decrease in reported crime is the outcome, Y. We assume that foot

patrols affect crime rates, rather than vice versa. One could see, however, where a researcher

might be interested in studying the latter; that is, high crime areas may more likely precipitate the

deployment of foot patrols.

Finally, suppose a relationship was discovered and specified: namely, there was an increase

in foot patrols and a decline in reported crime within the precinct. Does this then prove that

increases in foot patrols will cause a decrease in crime as measured by crime reported to police?

The answer to this question is no. The most obvious reason, which will become clear in Chapter 13

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68 Chapter 3 • Research Design

Internal

validity

External

validity

History

when we discuss statistics, is that correlation or relationship by no means implies or demonstrates

causation. Such a finding merely brings us to stage 1 or 2 of our steps in resolving the causality

problem. If the prudent investigator has not already guessed, one's critics will very quickly point

out that other variables could have accounted for this relationship.

RIVAL CAUSAL FACTORS

Rival causal factors are any variables other than X (the treatment) that may be responsible for the

relationship. It is traditional in the social sciences, following the lead of Campbell and Stanley

(1963), to discuss these other variables, or rival causal factors, as being of two general types:

internal factors or other variables within the study itself that may tend to invalidate one's

findings and conclusions, and external factors or elements outside of one's immediate study that

may imperil the researcher's attempts to draw generalizations from the study and infer one's

findings to be true of larger populations.

Validity

Validity refers to accuracy or correctness in research. Internal factors question the internal

validity of research, whereas external factors impugn the external validity of findings. The former

asks whether the observational process itself produced the findings; the latter is concerned with

whether the results were unique and applicable only to the group or target studied. In checking

internal validity, one is concerned with whether a variable other than X (the treatment) may

have produced a change in Y (the dependent variable). With external validity, one asks what

other variables may limit one's ability to generalize the findings in a study to larger populations or

settings.

INTERNAL FACTORS: VARIABLES RELATED TO INTERNAL VALIDITY

Campbell and Stanley's classic monograph, Experimental and Quasi-Experimental Designs

for Research (1963), points to the following internal factors as possibly threatening the internal

validity of a study:

History Statistical Regression

Maturation Selection Bias

Testing Experimental Mortality

Instrumentation Selection-Maturation Interaction

All of these are rival causal factors that could have been responsible for producing the

results rather than the treatment assumed to be responsible. That is, although X and Y are related,

the real reason for this relationship is Z, some other variable or rival causal factor.

History

History refers to other specific events that may have taken place during the course of the study

and may have produced the results. For example, other than increased foot patrols what events

may have occurred in the hypothetical precinct and accounted for the decrease in crimes

reported? Perhaps the area was the target of a "Crime Watch" program that encouraged citizen

vigilance and reporting; or a new employment program was initiated to hire unemployed

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.

Chapter 3 • Research Design 69

Maturation

Testing

youths; or urban renewal changed the nature of the population inhabiting the precinct. Social,

seasonal, and other events may be responsible for changes in a study target. Garwood (1978)

gives an example of a burglary reduction program using "operation identification" in which

belongings are engraved to discourage burglars and fences. A northeastern experimental city

received the treatment, operation identification, and, especially during January 1978, showed a

dramatic decrease in reported burglaries. Can we assume that the X, operation identification,

was responsible for bringing this about? No. On further investigation, it was discovered

that other cities without such a program, notably Buffalo, Detroit, and Boston, demonstrated

equally impressive declines in burglary. What may have occurred in January 1978 to account

for this? It was the winter of incredibly deep, record-breaking, crippling snows in the

Northeast, and thus bad weather, a historical hidden variable, was most likely responsible for

the decline in burglary statistics. Similarly, a tough 1880 anti-horse theft law in New York City

is not responsible for the virtual disappearance of such thieves a hundred years later; rather,

it is the historical change in transportation.

In reviewing shortcomings of sentencing research, Farrington (1978) points out that because

of the lack of premeasures and control groups, it is difficult to assume that any decrease in crime

after a change in legal penalties or sentencing is due to these changes or other unmeasured social

changes that may have taken place at the same time.

Maturation

Maturation refers to biological or psychological changes in the respondents during the course

of study that are not due to the experimental variable. "Time heals all wounds," according to

the old medical dictum, refers to the phenomenon in medical research wherein a given number

of patients can be expected to reveal improved conditions with or without treatment. Perhaps

the precinct under investigation in our foot patrol example was in the process of change, either

deterioration or upgrading, that brought about the change in crime reporting irrespective of

foot patrol.

A hypothetical example may serve to illustrate maturation as a rival causal factor. An

interesting controversy of the 1960s was fluoridation of water in the United States.

Opponents claimed that the addition of such chemicals was potentially harmful. Suppose an

avid supporter of such a view were to state, "In 1850 Erie, Pennsylvania, was the first city to

fluoridate its water and not a single citizen from that time is alive today." Quite obviously,

the demise of this population was due primarily to natural causes, maturation, rather than the

assumed cause, fluoridation.

In a more serious vein, claims as to the long-term effectiveness of rehabilitation programs

must certainly control for the fact that as a given age cohort matures, its crime commission in

general tends to decrease; that is, there are very few eighty-year-old cat burglars. As a more

detailed example will illustrate later in this chapter, all other things being equal, older delinquents

can be expected to show lower crime commission over time than younger delinquents.

Testing

Testing (pretest bias) refers to the bias and foreknowledge introduced to respondents as a result

of having been pretested. On a second testing, the respondents are no longer naive regarding the

subject matter and can make use of sensitivities, information, and attitudes garnered from the

first testing. If one wanted to test a bank's reaction to a simulated robbery, the reaction of a bank

that had been held up the previous day would probably not yield valid or typical results.

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70 Chapter 3 • Research Design

Instrumentation

Statistical

regression

Instrumentation

Instrumentation involves changes in the measuring instrument from the beginning or first period

of evaluation to the second, later, or final evaluation. The measuring instrument may refer to

observers, questionnaires, interviews, analyses of existing records, or any standard method of data

gathering. Suppose, for instance, that in our foot patrol experiment, the method of recording citizen

complaints was dramatically improved from what it had been at the beginning of the project. An

increase in crimes reported to police at the end of the study could very well have resulted from

instrumentation, a rival causal factor, rather than the assumed predictor variable-foot patrol.

A major limitation of comparing crime rates of today with those of yesteryear relates to the continual

improvement in record keeping so that an indeterminate proportion of the increase may simply

be evidence of improved instrumentation. We will discuss this subject in detail in Chapter 4 in the

section on the Uniform Crime Report. The crime rate of a city may show an increase of 100 percent

over the previous year, not necessarily because of increased crime commission, but because of

installation of a computer, a change in the manner in which crime is measured or recorded.

Statistical Regression

Statistical regression is the tendency of groups that have been selected for study on the basis of

extreme high or low scores to regress or move toward the mean or average on second testing. As in

our example, if a precinct were selected for study on the basis of an extremely high or low volume

of citizen complaints, it is expected, irrespective of the treatment variable, that the second reading

will be closer to the average for all precincts or certainly less at the extreme.

It should not be surprising that extremely high or low scores would move toward more

normal scores upon retest. Extremely tall people as a group are likely to have children shorter

than themselves, just as extremely short people are likely to have children taller than themselves.

Imagine taking the first examination in a class that you detest; after having had a bad night the

night before (illness, an all-nighter), you flunk the test. As a member of the lowest group, you are

then chosen for study. But before the second test you have a normal night's sleep, so we might

expect your performance to improve. The point is that the improvement may not be due to any

increase in intelligence but that your first test performance was atypical.

In critiquing reported positive claims of a program involving diversion alternatives

for youths who would otherwise have been incarcerated, Gordon and associates point out that

regression effects had been overlooked. The juveniles studied were chosen on the basis of

extremely high crime commission that could be expected to decrease upon second observation

even without intervention. Not surprisingly, it was claimed that the most extreme delinquents

demonstrated the greatest drop in recidivism as a result of a wilderness program. The most

likely explanation, however, was an expected regression toward the mean on the basis of the

initial choice of extreme cases (Gordon et al., 1978).

Selection Bias

Selection bias occurs when the researcher chooses nonequivalent groups for comparison. Studies

that compare the attitudes or behavior of volunteers and nonvolunteers are often subject to selection

bias. If in our foot patrol study the precinct chosen for the experiment was characterized by high

levels of citizen involvement and reportage of crime, and these data were compared with those

for another nonfoot patrol precinct with historically low levels of reported crime, the rival causal

factor, selection bias, rather than foot patrol, might explain the differences in findings.

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Chapter 3 • Research Design 71

Selection-

maturation

interaction

Similarly, comparison of an experimental group consisting of all model prisoners and

a control group of incorrigible prisoners would hardly be fair. Many demonstration projects have

been accused of "creaming clients"-taking the cream of the crop-or stacking the deck by

assigning the best clients to the treatment and the dregs to the control group.

Experimental Mortality

In studying the same group over a period of time, an expected loss of subjects can be anticipated.

This loss is referred to as experimental mortality. In our foot patrol experiment, a decline in

residential population as a result of urban renewal would certainly impinge on the number of

crimes reported. In correctional research, long-term recidivism studies have been handicapped

by the inability to follow all or most of the original respondents. Perhaps those who cannot be

found are more likely to be successes or failures than those on which data are available.

One method of assessing possible bias as a result of the loss of respondents is to compare

known characteristics of respondents with those of nonrespondents. Similarity in such demographic

characteristics as sex, age, race, and income may lead one to suspect that nonrespondents

do not differ much from respondents and therefore introduce little bias.

Selection-Maturation Interaction

Obviously, factors within the experiment other than the assumed predictor variable may be

responsible for the findings. Interaction or combination impacts of any or all of these variables

may bring about the obtained results, for instance, interaction of selection bias and differential

maturation of groups. Selection-maturation interaction was illustrated by Gordon et al. (1978) in

their critique of a diversion program in which the researchers failed to control for age-selection

bias-or to spot a potential maturation effect when older delinquents were placed in the wilderness

programs that showed the greatest decline in recidivism. The latter can be viewed as a maturation

effect in that as a group ages, its overall crime commission declines.

EXTERNAL FACTORS: VARIABLES RELATED TO EXTERNAL VALIDITY

External factors refer to rival causal factors that negatively affect external validity or the representativeness

or generalizability of study findings to larger populations beyond the group studied

(Campbell and Stanley, 1963). The following are examples of external factors:

Testing effects

Selection bias

Reactivity or awareness of being studied

Multiple-treatment interference

Although a clever researcher may do much to control for the effects of rival causal factors

within a study, this may not enhance the ability to generalize beyond the group studied. The testing

effects and selection bias previously discussed as affecting internal validity also affect external

validity (reactive or interaction effects of pretesting).

Testing Effects

Testing effects point to the tendency of pretests to destroy the naiveté of respondents with respect

to the variable(s) being studied and decrease or more predictably increase the subjects' awareness

Experimental

mortality

Testing effects

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72 Chapter 3 • Research Design

Reactivity

Multipletreatment

interference

Hawthorne

effect

or sensitivity, thus complicating the ability to generalize their responses to a larger population that

has not been pretested. For illustrative purposes, let us alter the foot patrol example by adding a

different dimension. Assume that the purpose of introducing walking beats was to enhance community

relations and public attitudes toward the police. At the beginning of the study, residents of

the precinct were questioned regarding these matters, then foot patrols were introduced, and the

residents were questioned again. A more favorable attitude toward police would be assumed to

have been produced by walking patrols; however, perhaps it was induced in part, or primarily, by

the group having been pretested and thus having had time to reflect and consider their views.

Furthermore, attitudes in this precinct could not be generalized to other even similar precincts,

without some hazard, unless a similar pretest-posttest had occurred there also.

Selection Bias

Selection bias can have negative impacts on the ability to infer findings beyond the group studied.

Nonrepresentative selection of a study group obviously invalidates any attempt to generalize to

larger populations. For instance, the purposive selection of a precinct with high citizen vigilance

in responding to crime as the setting for an experiment in police deployment would not be a fair

test of how this same program would operate in more typical settings.

Reactivity or Awareness of Being Studied

Reactivity or respondent awareness of being studied tends to produce atypical or unnatural behavior

on the part of subjects. Most people have had experience with previously announced inspections,

visiting or guest teachers and the like, to realize that behavior observed during that day tends to be at

times quite different from what normally occurs. Similarly, if the sample foot patrol precinct were

announced and continually covered in the media during the course of the experiment, the residents'

behavior, as well as the behavior of the police, would be different than usual.

This phenomenon is variously described as the "Hawthorne effect," "placebo effect," or

"stooge effect" and will be discussed shortly. Thus, an awareness of being studied, rather

than the experimental treatment, may become the major factor bringing about a particular

outcome.

Multiple-Treatment Interferences

Multiple-treatment interference occurs when more than one treatment or predictor variable is used

on the same subjects. The outcome may be brought about by a specific sequence or combination of

independent variables that can be uncovered only by more complicated research designs, as will be

examined later in this chapter. If the foot patrol officers also wore blazers and did not carry guns and

gave out free tickets to sports events, a more positive attitude may have been produced by any one or

combination of variables, in addition to or irrespective of foot patrols.

RELATED RIVAL CAUSAL FACTORS

Hawthorne Effect

Although not distinct from those already discussed, a number of other Hawthorne-related terms

for sources of invalidity can be identified. The Hawthorne effect serves as an example of

reactivity resulting in atypical behavior or attitudes on the part of research subjects as a result

of their awareness of being studied. This factor gets its name from a pioneering industrial study

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Customer: replied 2 years ago.

72 Chapter 3 • Research Design

Reactivity

Multipletreatment

interference

Hawthorne

effect

or sensitivity, thus complicating the ability to generalize their responses to a larger population that

has not been pretested. For illustrative purposes, let us alter the foot patrol example by adding a

different dimension. Assume that the purpose of introducing walking beats was to enhance community

relations and public attitudes toward the police. At the beginning of the study, residents of

the precinct were questioned regarding these matters, then foot patrols were introduced, and the

residents were questioned again. A more favorable attitude toward police would be assumed to

have been produced by walking patrols; however, perhaps it was induced in part, or primarily, by

the group having been pretested and thus having had time to reflect and consider their views.

Furthermore, attitudes in this precinct could not be generalized to other even similar precincts,

without some hazard, unless a similar pretest-posttest had occurred there also.

Selection Bias

Selection bias can have negative impacts on the ability to infer findings beyond the group studied.

Nonrepresentative selection of a study group obviously invalidates any attempt to generalize to

larger populations. For instance, the purposive selection of a precinct with high citizen vigilance

in responding to crime as the setting for an experiment in police deployment would not be a fair

test of how this same program would operate in more typical settings.

Reactivity or Awareness of Being Studied

Reactivity or respondent awareness of being studied tends to produce atypical or unnatural behavior

on the part of subjects. Most people have had experience with previously announced inspections,

visiting or guest teachers and the like, to realize that behavior observed during that day tends to be at

times quite different from what normally occurs. Similarly, if the sample foot patrol precinct were

announced and continually covered in the media during the course of the experiment, the residents'

behavior, as well as the behavior of the police, would be different than usual.

This phenomenon is variously described as the "Hawthorne effect," "placebo effect," or

"stooge effect" and will be discussed shortly. Thus, an awareness of being studied, rather

than the experimental treatment, may become the major factor bringing about a particular

outcome.

Multiple-Treatment Interferences

Multiple-treatment interference occurs when more than one treatment or predictor variable is used

on the same subjects. The outcome may be brought about by a specific sequence or combination of

independent variables that can be uncovered only by more complicated research designs, as will be

examined later in this chapter. If the foot patrol officers also wore blazers and did not carry guns and

gave out free tickets to sports events, a more positive attitude may have been produced by any one or

combination of variables, in addition to or irrespective of foot patrols.

RELATED RIVAL CAUSAL FACTORS

Hawthorne Effect

Although not distinct from those already discussed, a number of other Hawthorne-related terms

for sources of invalidity can be identified. The Hawthorne effect serves as an example of

reactivity resulting in atypical behavior or attitudes on the part of research subjects as a result

of their awareness of being studied. This factor gets its name from a pioneering industrial study

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Chapter 3 • Research Design 73

Halo effect

Self-fulfilling

prophecy

Post hoc error

Placebo effect

of a group of workers in the Hawthorne plant of the Western Electric Company in Chicago

(Roethlisberger and Dixon, 1939). To the bemusement of the researchers, alterations in treatment

designed to either increase or decrease worker efficiency consistently increased efficiency.

Rather than reacting to the treatment variable, X, workers were reacting to a rival causal factor-

the fact that they had been singled out for an important study. The workers reacted as they

suspected the researchers wanted them to act, rather than as they would under normal circumstances.

These acquiescent, "guinea pig," or "stooge" effects are likely in situations where the

group being studied is aware that they are being studied.

Halo Effect

The halo effect was coined by Thorndike (1920, p. 25), who noticed that when supervisors rated

subordinates, the ratings were all "higher than reality." It refers to observer bias in which observers,

perhaps unconsciously, follow an initial tendency to rate certain objects or persons in a particular

manner; this initial orientation carries over into all subsequent ratings. The less specified and

discretionary the variable to be rated, the greater the danger of the halo effect (see Cooper, 1981).

Related in part, but more subtle than the halo effect, is the carryover into research of a

phenomenon first noted by sociologist W. I. Thomas. His basic maxim of "the definition of the

situation," or what others refer to as self-fulfilling prophecy, has a major bearing upon the bias

of the researcher. "If groups or individuals define a situation as real, it is real in its consequences"

(Thomas and Swaine, 1928, pp. 571-572). A researcher's own hidden biases and expectations

may influence his or her perception of events so as to bring about that which had been assumed.

Selective perception may lead to one ignoring anything that does not fit one's preset cognitive

map and thus presents us with an experimenter effect (Rosenthal, 1966).

Post Hoc Error

Post hoc error comes from the Latin phrase "post hoc; ergo, propter hoc," literally, "after this;

therefore because of it." It is a fallacy to argue that one variable is the cause of an outcome because

it precedes that outcome in time. What is considered an effect is often only a subsequent event. An

example would be to argue that because every morning when the rooster crows the sun rises-the

crowing causes the sunrise. Another example can be the common claims made by police chiefs that

crime (reported crime) declined in their city in the 1980s because of new and effective policies.

More likely than not, what one was observing was the predicted "crime dip" of the 1980s, resulting

in part from demographic shifts in what has been described as the post-World War II "baby boom."

Gelles (1977) gives an example of such fallacious reasoning in research on child abusers.

Sometimes psychological conditions that are identified as being present after the abuse incident

are viewed as the cause of the incident; for example, abusers may be found to be paranoid and

depressed, conditions that may be results of the incident, rather than its cause.

Placebo Effect

Complete enumeration of related tags or descriptions of rival causal factors would be endless and

beyond our needs at this point. One final factor that often appears in literature is the placebo

effect. This involves, similar to the Hawthorne effect, the tendency of subjects to react to a known

stimulus in the predicted manner (Loranger, Prout, and White, 1961). Commonly used in medical

research, the "sugar pill" or a placebo (fake treatment) with no known effects is administered

to the study group to hide the real treatment group and also to control for the placebo effect.

The actual effects of the true experimental pill can then be compared with effects induced in the

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Chapter 3 • Research Design 75

Randomization

Matching

Pretest-posttest

Experimental

group

Control group

Equivalence refers to the attempt on the part of the researcher to select and assign subjects

to comparison groups in such a manner that they can be assumed to be alike in all major respects.

The two methods by which equivalence of groups to be compared is gained are randomization and

matching. Randomization is the random assignment of subjects from a similar population to one

or the other group(s) to be compared in such a way that each individual has an equal probability of

being chosen and an equal probability of being assigned to any of the groups to be compared.

We discuss the process of randomization more thoroughly in Chapter 4, but at this point, it will

suffice to indicate that one of the principal means of accomplishing randomization is by use of

simple random samples or some means of selection in which each case in the population has an

equal probability of appearing.

Matching deals with assuring equivalence by selecting subjects for the second or other

comparison groups on the basis of matching certain key characteristics such as age, sex, and

race, so that the groups are similar or equivalent with respect to these characteristics. Matching

and randomization can be combined. In the Cambridge-Somerville study (McCord and McCord,

1959), 325 pairs of boys were matched on delinquency potential, and one member of each pair

was randomly assigned to treatment (Farrington, 1983, p. 261).

Assuming that the groups are similar, both are exposed to a pretest or observation prior

to exposure to treatment and a posttest or measurement after exposure to treatment. Finally, the

group exposed to treatment is called the experimental group; the group that is not exposed

to the stimulus or predictor variable is the control group. The original meaning of the term

"control" is "check"-the term comes from "counter-roll," a duplicate register or account made

to verify an account (Oakley, 1998).

For heuristic purposes, we adapt the notation developed by Campbell and Stanley (1963) for

schematically depicting the various research designs: X equals treatment, O symbolizes observations

(some researchers use T instead of O). Subscripts for O, such as O1 and O2, represent the first and

second observations, respectively, and E stands for the equivalence of comparison groups. Please

note that purists would be more conservative and insist that randomization (R) and not matching is

necessary for a classic experimental design.

Classic Experimental Design

E O1 X O2

E O1 O2

E equivalence

O observation

X treatment

1, 2 time

Following our previous presentation of this design with our newly introduced notation,

we find that the classic experimental design involves an equivalent assignment to experimental

and control groups, which are observed both before and after the experimental group receives

treatment.

Using some of the rival causal factors affecting internal validity, we can now examine

the point that experimental designs are effective in controlling for many of these sources of

error before the fact. Suppose a classic experimental design had been employed for the foot patrol

experiment discussed earlier. Two precincts alike in all possible respects would have been chosen

for study (equivalence). The experimental precinct would have been pretested prior to the treatment

(foot patrol), whereas the control precinct would have received no treatment (retained usual

Equivalence

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76 Chapter 3 • Research Design

patrol practices). At the end of the study, both groups would once again have been observed, and

any differences between them would be assumed to have been produced by the deployment of foot

patrols. History and maturation would not be likely rival explanations for these differences, because

both groups were similar and thus exposed to the same historical and maturation conditions. Both

groups were exposed to a pretest; thus, the differences could not result from the pretest, or at least

the extent to which the pretest influences results can be assessed because it will show up in both

groups. If it is assumed that both groups received the same instrument, changes in the instrument

would not account for differences as long as these changes were the same for both groups.

Statistical regression should be the same for both groups. Equivalence assures no selection bias and

experimental mortality should be the same.

This hypothetical foot patrol study is an example of a field experiment, a type of experiment

that is conducted in a natural (field) setting; a laboratory experiment is a type of experiment

that takes place in contrived or researcher-created conditions. Our next examples illustrate field

experiments. Because most of these studies employ matching rather than randomization as the

means of assuring equivalence, purists might argue that they are not true experimental designs but

rather quasi-experimental designs.

SOME CRIMINAL JUSTICE EXAMPLES OF THE CLASSIC

EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN

Candid Camera

While the use of videotape for security purposes is routine today, at one time the usefulness

of such electronic devices (in this case, photographs) was not commonly understood. In 1975,

the Seattle Police Department installed hidden cameras in stereo speaker boxes in seventy-five

commercial establishments identified as high-risk potential robbery victims. These businesses

constituted the experimental group; a group of similar businesses received no treatment. The

pretest for both groups consisted of gathering statistics on the percentage of robberies cleared by

arrest and conviction rates prior to the study. If held up, a clerk triggered the camera by pulling a

"trip" bill from the cash drawer. A special project director would make prints of the photograph

of the robber available. A posttest comparing the two groups found that 55 percent of the

robberies of experimental companies were cleared by arrest versus 25 percent of the control

firms. Similarly, 48 percent of robbers at hidden camera sites were convicted, compared with

19 percent of the control group robbers ("Hidden Cameras Project," 1978).

Scared Straight

In the late 1970s, claims of reduced recidivism among juveniles in trouble with the law in response

to visits with prisoners were illustrated by the Rahway prison project portrayed in the film Scared

Straight. The assumption was that much of the "glamor" attached to criminal life by juveniles

on the road to more trouble could be nipped in the bud by blunt, heart-to-heart dialogue with

specially selected prisoners. Many jurisdictions began to set up what appeared to be a new gimmick

in corrections. Later evaluations, however, suggested that the benefits claimed were premature.

Yarborough conducted an evaluation of the JOLT (Juvenile Offenders Learn Truth) program

at the State Prison of Southern Michigan at Jackson. Unlike some earlier programs, verbal attacks

and obscenities were deemphasized. In 1978, subjects were randomly assigned to experimental and

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Chapter 3 • Research Design 77

control groups and then measured at three- and six-month follow-up periods. All subjects were

male and had been arrested or petitioned for an offense that, had they been adults, would have been

criminal. No significant differences were found between those who had attended the JOLT session

and those who had not. There were no differences in the proportion having petitions filed or in the

types of offenses committed (Scared Straight, 1979).

In 1987, WOR TV (Secaucus, New Jersey, June 21, 9:00 P.M. EST) aired a documentary

entitled "Scared Straight: Ten Years Later." This program presented a very positive picture of

the experiment, relying primarily on interviews with people who had attended. Finckenauer

(1982), in Scared Straight! and the Panacea Phenomenon, felt that the original documentary

(1977) had misled the American public into thinking this was a miracle cure for juvenile crime.

Despite many problems and lack of cooperation in attempting to evaluate the "Juvenile

Awareness Program" or "Lifer's Program" (Scared Straight Program) at Rahway, Finckenauer

found that his randomly assigned Scared Straight experimentals actually had higher seriousness

delinquency scores afterward than the controls who did not attend the program. Similarly, many

of the juveniles put through the program were not the hardened "junior criminals" the public

had been led to believe.

A review of nine Scared Straight experiments over its thirty-three-year history indicated

that, despite good intentions, the program not only did not deter future criminal behavior

but actually led to more crime by program participants. The researchers concluded: "Given

the possibility of harmful effects of interventions, government has an ethical responsibility to

rigorously evaluate, on a continuing basis, the policies, practices, and programs it implements"

(Petrosino, Turpin-Petrosino, and Finckenauer, 2000).

Community Policing

Community policing has become a subject of much interest in law enforcement since the 1980s. The

term broadly refers to a variety of strategies that attempt to get the police away from rapid response

to service and closer to the community on a day-to-day basis. Order-maintenance, community crime

prevention, problem solving, neighborhood safety, foot patrol, and a host of police-community

relations strategies are all included under community policing (Mastrofski, 1992).

A variety of field experiments regarding the impact of neighborhood safety programs

such as "neighborhood or block watch," "police storefronts," and "foot patrol" experiments

have been undertaken. The Police Foundation's analysis of a neighborhood watch experiment

in Houston found no noticeable reduction in crime compared with a similar area that had not

received the program. Another Houston program established a police department storefront

(a combination precinct station, social center, and community outreach center). Houston also

experimented with personal-contact patrol in which officers attempted to stop and talk to as

many citizens as possible. Despite problems in maintaining experimental conditions, some

positive findings were obtained. The neighborhood watch and storefront programs had no

noticeable impact upon crime reduction but an enormous impact upon reduction of citizens'

fear of crime. In addition to reducing fear, the personal-contact patrol reduced household

victimizations by one-half and resulted in improving the attitudes of residents on community

issues (Sherman, 1985; Wycoff et al., 1985a, 1985b). Exhibit 3.1 describes a field experiment

in Kansas City that met with success.

A continuing subject of debate has been public dissatisfaction with anonymous, routine

policing in automobiles and requests for foot patrols, even though most police managers until

recently viewed such assignments as inefficient deployment of limited police personnel.

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78 Chapter 3 • Research Design

EXHIBIT 3.1

The Kansas City Gun Experiment

The United States has both the highest violent crime

and homicide rate of any developed country, as well

as the largest armed civilian population in the world.

National attempts to significantly control firearms are

effectively blocked by the powerful National Rifle

Association. Given these contingencies, what can

police do to try to control growing youth homicide

rates? One possibility tested in the Kansas City gun

experiment by Sherman, Shaw, and Rogan (1995)

was that greater enforcement of existing laws

against carrying concealed weapons could reduce

gun crime. With a Bureau of Justice Assistance

"Weed and Seed" program grant, the Kansas City

Police Department selected a target patrol beat and

a control beat. The target beat had a 1991 homicide

rate of 177 per 100,000 persons, about twenty times

the national average. The control beat had a similar

violent crime rate. The research design involved a

matched groups before-after design. The "hot spot"

target area received increased proactive patrols.

The actual technique the officers used to

find guns varied, from frisks and searches

incident to arrest on other charges to safety

frisks associated with car stops for traffic

violations. Every arrest for carrying concealed

weapons had to be approved for adequate

articulable suspicion with a supervisory

detective's signature (ibid., p. 6).

Figure 1 illustrates the differences between

the target beat and the comparison beat during the

one-year experiment.

Gun crimes in the target beat decreased from

37 per 1,000 persons to 18.9 and guns seized

increased from 9.9 to 16.8. The comparison beat

showed little change in gun crime (22.6 to 23.6 per

1,000) and an actual decrease in guns seized (10.4 to

8.8 per 1,000). There was no displacement of gun

crimes to surrounding areas. Drive-by shootings

dropped from 7 to 1 in the target area but doubled

Target Beat

Before Patrols

40

37.0

18.9

22.6

10.4

23.6

8.8

16.8

9.9

30

20

10

0

During Patrols Before Patrols During Patrols

Comparison Beat

Guns Seized

Guns Seized

Gun Crimes

Gun Crimes

FIGURE 1 Kansas City Gun Experiment-Guns Seized per 1,000 Persons. (Source: Sherman, Shaw,

and Rogan, 1995, p. 1.)

(continued)

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Chapter 3 • Research Design 79

1 121

1989

60

Monthly Firearm Offenses

Hot Spot

Patrols

Pause in

Hot Spot

Patrols

Hot Spot

Patrols

Reinitiated 50

40

30

20

10

0

1990 1991 1992 1993

121 121 121 12

Target Beat Comparison Beat

FIGURE 2 Total Offenses with Firearms by Month in Target and Comparison Beats. (Source: Sherman,

Shaw, and Rogan, 1995, p. 7.)

During the late 1970s, experiments with foot patrols were conducted in Newark, New Jersey,

and Flint, Michigan (Police Foundation, 1981; Wilson and Kelling, 1982; Trojanowicz and

Banas, 1985). The same findings were obtained in both studies (Kelling, 1985, p. 2):

decreased fear of crime, greater citizen satisfaction, and greater appreciation of neighborhood

values by the police. There also appeared to be greater job satisfaction, less fear, and higher

morale for officers who patrol on foot than for officers who patrol in automobiles. The

replications are underway as of this writing. Lawrence

Sherman, the principal author of the report, is on

leave from the University of Maryland and is serving

as Criminologist to the Indianapolis Police Department

in order to further test the program.

Source: Sherman, Lawrence W., James W. Shaw, and

Dennis P. Rogan. "The Kansas City Gun Experiment."

National Institute of Justice Research in Brief, January

1995. Document available from National Criminal

Justice Reference Service, Box 6000, Rockville, MD

20849-6000; call 1-XXX-XXX-XXXX or Internet

XXXXX@XXXXXX.XXX.

EXHIBIT 3.1 (Continued )

from 6 to 12 in the comparison area, again with no

displacement effect. Figure 2 compares offenses by

firearms.

Other positive findings were a decline in homicides

in the target area but not in the comparison

area. Citizens in the target area were less fearful, but

there was no change in fear in the comparison area.

Two-thirds of those arrested for gun carrying in the

target area were from outside the area.

Finally, only gun crimes were reduced by

the directed patrols, and they had no effect on calls

for service or reduction of other crimes. Further

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80 Chapter 3 • Research Design

Flint study showed a decrease of 40 percent in service calls via telephone and a modest

reduction in crime, whereas the Newark program showed no crime reduction. More replications

(repeats of the experiments) are under way. Foot patrols are obviously no panacea but

have been found popular, particularly when selectively implemented in densely populated

urban areas.

In the 1990s, the National Institute of Justice had contracted a large number of

studies of community policing ("Community Policing," 1992). For example, an evaluation

of the Madison, Wisconsin, Police Department's "quality" policing program examined a

community-oriented policing program with a new organizational design based on the work of

management expert Edwards Deming. In comparing the experimental with the comparison

police district, it was found that in the experimental district the managers viewed themselves

more as problem solvers and employee attitudes regarding their work and organization

improved. In addition, citizen interaction improved and their perception of crime as a

problem was reduced. Citizens also expressed a more positive attitude toward the police

(Wycoff and Skogan, 1994).

OTHER EXPERIMENTAL DESIGNS

Other experimental designs include the posttest-only control group design and the Solomon

four-group design.

Posttest-Only Control Group Design

To assess the impact of consolidated police departments on public satisfaction with policing in

their area, Ostrom, Parks, and Whitaker conducted a posttest-only control group design (1973).

E X O

E O

Three Indianapolis neighborhoods with a consolidated police department were matched

with three communities with independent police departments. The researchers discovered

higher public satisfaction in the communities with independent departments. Without a pretest

it is unclear, however, whether this difference could not in fact have been caused by other rival

factors; for example, perhaps even before police department consolidation, the Indianapolis

neighborhoods had lower degrees of satisfaction with their policing.

Solomon Four-Group Design

The Solomon four-group design (Solomon, 1949) is viewed by some as the purest of research

designs. Basically, it combines the classic experimental design with the posttest-only design. The

Solomon design has four groups, the first two resembling a classic design and the second two

resembling a posttest-only control group design.

E O1 X O2

E O1 O2

E X O2

E O2

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Chapter 3 • Research Design 81

To illustrate the Solomon design, let us hypothetically suppose, using the same Indianapolis

example, that four areas could be chosen for study from evenly matched communities. The first

two areas would both be measured with respect to public attitude toward the police. Only one of

these would receive the treatment (consolidated policing), and both would be remeasured with

respect to attitude. Two other areas would not receive the premeasure; that is, they would be

measured only after one had received treatment (consolidated policing) and one had not. Such a

design would assess the effect of testing effects as well as provide a premeasure lacking in the

posttest-only control group design. The advantage of the posttest-only control group design is that

it eliminates testing effects and possibly reactivity entirely, although it lacks a measure of where

the groups stood prior to the treatment. The Solomon four-group design obviously has the

advantage of having the premeasure and, by adding the second two groups, has the same advantage

as the posttest-only control group design. It is, however, expensive and difficult to implement

and, therefore, not practical in many research situations.

The classic Solomon and posttest-only control group designs are examples of experimental

designs. Randomization, in which equivalence is obtained by random assignment of subjects to

experimental and control groups, is the key distinguishing characteristic of experimental designs.

Preexperimental designs lack equivalence of groups, and quasi-experimental designs rely on

matching of subjects to achieve equivalence. In many field experiments such as the Indianapolis

example, randomization may be inappropriate or impossible; as long as equivalence is assured, it

can be argued that these are true experiments.

PREEXPERIMENTAL DESIGNS

Research designs that lack one or two of the three major elements of experimental designs-

equivalence or experimental and control groups-are designated as preexperimental designs.

One-Group Ex Post Facto Design

X O

One-Group Before-After Design

O X O

Two-Group Ex Post Facto Design

X O

O

One-Group Ex Post Facto Design

All of these preexperimental designs fail to provide equivalence or any assurance that the group(s)

being studied is representative in any way of some larger population(s). The one-group ex post

facto design, or one-shot case study, is quite typical of many early criminal justice demonstration

projects. Our original example of the precinct foot patrol experiment, if it contained no preobservation,

would serve as an illustration. Unlike true experimental designs, one-group ex post facto

(after the fact) studies are subject to many internal invalidity factors or errors. One simply has

chosen for study a group that has already been exposed to a particular treatment. Obviously, things

other than the treatment could explain the outcome. If one finds a precinct that had experimental

foot patrols or an agency with low recidivism rates, without premeasures, equivalence, and control

groups, one is on shaky ground in concluding that lower crime rates or lower recidivism are due to

these factors. Many studies, particularly field studies in criminology and criminal justice, are of

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82 Chapter 3 • Research Design

the one-shot case study variety. Cressey's (1957) study of incarcerated embezzlers, for instance,

may have major problems with respect to selection bias and reactivity but, on the other hand, may

be the only way of obtaining exploratory information on a little-known topic. What one-group ex

post facto studies lose in terms of internal control of error may be gained in terms of studying

groups in natural field conditions.

Early research on the XYY or "supermale syndrome" assumed, on the basis of studies of

incarcerated violent offenders, that an extra male chromosome may have been responsible for

violent crime (Witkin et al., 1978). Only later examination of the general population suggested

that it may be as prevalent among the "noncriminal" male population. As mentioned previously,

in lamenting the shortcomings of studies of sentencing behavior, Farrington (1978) points out

that few studies use both before and after measures or compare a sentenced group with an unsentenced

group, thus making it difficult to know whether changes in behavior are due to sentences,

penalties, or other concurrent social changes.

In another example of a one-group ex post facto study, Heussenstamm (1971) reports on a

field experiment in which subjects, none of whom had received traffic violations the previous

twelve months, attached Black Panther bumper stickers to their automobiles. They attracted so

many traffic citations that the experiment had to be canceled. That Heussenstamm had knowledge

of the fact that the subjects had not received citations before the treatment may qualify the

study as being an example of the next type, the one-group before-after design.

One-Group Before-After Design

The one-group before-after design, or one-group pretest-posttest design, is an example of a

longitudinal design. A group, which is not necessarily chosen on the basis of representativeness,

is observed, exposed to treatment, and again observed. The primary advantage of this design over

the one-group ex post facto design is, of course, the presence of a premeasure. This adds, however,

the problem of testing effects and has the same problem as the one-group ex post facto design in

that one's findings cannot be compared with those for a similar control group not exposed to

treatment.

An example of a one-group before-after design is Pierce and Bowers' (1979) analysis of

the impact of the Massachusetts Bartley-Fox gun law, which carried a one-year minimum prison

sentence for the unlicensed carrying of firearms. With the use of recorded crime statistics and

observations both before and after passage of the law, the earliest part of a longitudinal design

suggested a decrease in gun-related assaults, robberies, and homicides; however, this was offset

by increases in nongun assaults and robberies using other weapons. Without a control group, the

same problem exists as in our previous burglary reduction program (Garwood, 1978)-other

variables may be responsible for these findings.

Two-Group Ex Post Facto Design

The two-group ex post facto design eliminates possible pretest reactivity by studying both an

experimental and a control group after the experimental group has been exposed to some

treatment. The primary problem with this design is that there is no way of being sure that the

two groups were initially equivalent. Skillful selection of groups for comparison may be the

only option a researcher has in some instances. Brown et al. (1970) surveyed two groups of

parolees: those who had succeeded and those who had failed at parole. After the fact, they

were asked to identify factors in the institution and community that assisted or impeded their

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82 Chapter 3 • Research Design

the one-shot case study variety. Cressey's (1957) study of incarcerated embezzlers, for instance,

may have major problems with respect to selection bias and reactivity but, on the other hand, may

be the only way of obtaining exploratory information on a little-known topic. What one-group ex

post facto studies lose in terms of internal control of error may be gained in terms of studying

groups in natural field conditions.

Early research on the XYY or "supermale syndrome" assumed, on the basis of studies of

incarcerated violent offenders, that an extra male chromosome may have been responsible for

violent crime (Witkin et al., 1978). Only later examination of the general population suggested

that it may be as prevalent among the "noncriminal" male population. As mentioned previously,

in lamenting the shortcomings of studies of sentencing behavior, Farrington (1978) points out

that few studies use both before and after measures or compare a sentenced group with an unsentenced

group, thus making it difficult to know whether changes in behavior are due to sentences,

penalties, or other concurrent social changes.

In another example of a one-group ex post facto study, Heussenstamm (1971) reports on a

field experiment in which subjects, none of whom had received traffic violations the previous

twelve months, attached Black Panther bumper stickers to their automobiles. They attracted so

many traffic citations that the experiment had to be canceled. That Heussenstamm had knowledge

of the fact that the subjects had not received citations before the treatment may qualify the

study as being an example of the next type, the one-group before-after design.

One-Group Before-After Design

The one-group before-after design, or one-group pretest-posttest design, is an example of a

longitudinal design. A group, which is not necessarily chosen on the basis of representativeness,

is observed, exposed to treatment, and again observed. The primary advantage of this design over

the one-group ex post facto design is, of course, the presence of a premeasure. This adds, however,

the problem of testing effects and has the same problem as the one-group ex post facto design in

that one's findings cannot be compared with those for a similar control group not exposed to

treatment.

An example of a one-group before-after design is Pierce and Bowers' (1979) analysis of

the impact of the Massachusetts Bartley-Fox gun law, which carried a one-year minimum prison

sentence for the unlicensed carrying of firearms. With the use of recorded crime statistics and

observations both before and after passage of the law, the earliest part of a longitudinal design

suggested a decrease in gun-related assaults, robberies, and homicides; however, this was offset

by increases in nongun assaults and robberies using other weapons. Without a control group, the

same problem exists as in our previous burglary reduction program (Garwood, 1978)-other

variables may be responsible for these findings.

Two-Group Ex Post Facto Design

The two-group ex post facto design eliminates possible pretest reactivity by studying both an

experimental and a control group after the experimental group has been exposed to some

treatment. The primary problem with this design is that there is no way of being sure that the

two groups were initially equivalent. Skillful selection of groups for comparison may be the

only option a researcher has in some instances. Brown et al. (1970) surveyed two groups of

parolees: those who had succeeded and those who had failed at parole. After the fact, they

were asked to identify factors in the institution and community that assisted or impeded their

ISBN 0-558-58864-6

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Chapter 3 • Research Design 83

adjustment. Such two-group ex post facto designs were heavily utilized in early biological

and psychological theories. These theories in criminology that claimed genetic or personality

differences between criminals and noncriminals suffered from what Reid (2005, p. 89)

describes as the dualistic fallacy, the assumption that prisoners (who are supposed to represent

criminals) and groups from the general population (all of whom are assumed to be

noncriminals) represent mutually exclusive groups (or are nonoverlapping).

CROSS-SECTIONAL AND LONGITUDINAL DESIGNS

Before going further, it is crucial to briefly introduce a general distinction used to describe

research designs. Cross-sectional designs involve studies of one group at one time and usually

refer to a representative sample of this group. Longitudinal studies are studies of the same group

over a period of time and generally are studies of change (Menard, 1991).

Time-series designs involve variations of multiple observations of the same group at

various times. Variations may include dividing the original group into equivalent groups and

observing these portions longitudinally. In Chapters 5 and 6, we discuss the usefulness of

panel designs in such surveys as the National Crime Victimization Survey in providing an

in-depth view over time of the same study population. In a now classic criminological study,

Wolfgang et al. (1972) used existing records to longitudinally trace the criminal or noncriminal

careers of 9,945 boys born in Philadelphia in 1945.

In a replication that included females, Tracy, Wolfgang, and Figlio (1985) tracked the

criminal history of males and females born in Philadelphia in 1958 who continued to live

there from the age of ten until adulthood. Both studies were instrumental in identifying

the concept of serious career criminals, finding that approximately 6 percent of the 1945

group had been responsible for 53 percent of arrests for violent crime and 71 percent for

robbery, whereas 7 percent of the 1958 group had committed 75 percent of all serious crime

by this group. Farrington (1979) conducted a similar study in London begun in 1961 of boys

eight to nine years old in state primary schools.

One of the earliest series of cohort analysis was done by the Gluecks, who studied 500

reformatory inmates over ten years and 1,000 juvenile delinquents for more than fifteen years

(Glueck and Glueck, 1937, 1940). Such longitudinal designs are useful in giving us the longand

short-term variations over time. Another example of an ambitious longitudinal study was

the Cambridge-Somerville Youth Study begun in 1937 and continuing with some interruption

through 1945. Extensive data were gathered on each of the 650 boys who began the project

including delinquency, neighborhood, family conditions, school behavior, intelligence, and

personality. In 1955, the McCord and McCord (1959) reexamined the data and compared official

and unofficial delinquents. Exhibit 3.2 examines a longitudinal study of child abuse and

neglect victims. The Denver Youth Survey (Browning and Huizinga, 1999) is another example

of a longitudinal study. In order to discover correlates of crime, it has been following 1,527

boys and girls from high-risk neighborhoods in Denver who were seven, nine, eleven, thirteen,

and fifteen years old in 1987.

Time-series designs and panel designs are other terms used to refer to types of longitudinal

studies, as are cohort and trend studies which are also variations of longitudinal

designs. Time-series designs involve measuring a single variable at successive points in

time. In an interrupted time-series design, measurements are taken at time points prior to

treatment and for an equivalent period after intervention. The rate of crime committed one

Dualistic

fallacy

Time-series

designs

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84 Chapter 3 • Research Design

year prior to treatment could be compared with the rate for the first year after treatment

(Schneider and Wilson, 1978). Trend studies analyze different samples of the same general

population longitudinally, whereas cohort studies analyze subgroups over time, although

each time may consist of a sample of the cohort. Panel studies examine the same select group

or sample over time, as we will see in the National Crime Surveys. The most ambitious

longitudinal study ever conducted in the social sciences is the previously discussed "Project

of Human Development" of Chicago neighborhoods.

Although there has been some debate in the field of criminology regarding the

overapplication of scarce federal research funds to expensive longitudinal studies, it is often

the only way of sorting out many trends and causal relationships (Esbensen and Menard,

1990, p. 5).

EXHIBIT 3.2

The Cycle of Violence and Victims of Child Abuse

In previous research, Cathy Spatz Widom (1992)

found that childhood abuse or neglect increased

the odds of future delinquency and adult criminality

by an overall 40 percent. The study consisted

of a longitudinal study of 1,575 cases from childhood

through young adulthood. A group of 908

cases of child abuse or neglect processed by the

courts between 1967 and 1971 were tracked

using official records for fifteen to twenty years.

A comparison group of 667 was matched by

age, sex, race, and family social class. The study

concluded that:

While most members of both groups had

no juvenile or adult criminal record, being

abused or neglected as a child increased the

likelihood of arrest as a juvenile by 53 percent,

as an adult by 38 percent, and for violent

crime by 38 percent (ibid., p. 1).

Using these same cases, Widom (1995) also

examined the relationship between childhood

sexual abuse and later criminal behavior, particularly

sexual offenses. The key finding was that

People who were sexually victimized

during childhood are at higher risk of arrest

for committing crimes as adults, including

sex crimes, than are people who did not

suffer sexual or physical abuse or neglect

during childhood. However, the risk of

arrest for childhood sexual abuse victims

as adults is no higher than for victims of

other types of childhood abuse and neglect

(ibid., p. 2).

Compared with victims of physical abuse,

child abuse victims are more likely to be arrested for

prostitution. Victims of physical abuse were more

likely to commit rape and sodomy than were sexual

abuse victims or the nonvictimized. The long-assumed

relationship between childhood sexual abuse,

running away, and prostitution was not borne out by

the research.

All of these findings relied on official statistics

for measuring the dependent variable of crime

commission. Continuing research in this series is

examining other sources. An attempt is being made

to reinterview all 1,575 subjects in order to discover

other consequences of child abuse including social,

emotional, cognitive, psychiatric, and health

outcomes. Also to be examined are factors which

protect child abuse victims from later negative

consequences.

Sources: Widom, Cathy Spatz. "The Cycle of Violence."

National Institute of Justice Research in Brief, October

1992; Widom, Cathy Spatz. "Victims of Childhood Sexual

Abuse-Later Criminal Consequences." National Institute

of Justice Research in Brief, March 1995. Documents can

be obtained from the National Criminal Justice Reference

Service, Box 6000, Rockville, MDNNN-NN-NNNN

call 1-XXX-XXX-XXXX or InternetXXX@XXXXXX.XXX.

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Chapter 3 • Research Design 85

QUASI-EXPERIMENTAL DESIGNS

There are many variations of the experimental design. In fact, as mentioned previously, almost all

research in criminal justice can be described using the notation with which we have been working.

Because quasi-experimental designs rely on matching-the use of "comparison groups" or means

other than randomization to obtain equivalence-the value of using comparison groups depends

upon how similar the groups are on key variables to the treatment group. Some quasi- or semiexperimental

designs include single time-series, multiple time-series, and counterbalanced designs.

Time-Series Designs

Time-series designs refer to the analysis of a single variable (e.g., crime rate) at many successive

time periods with some measures taken prior to treatment and other observations taken after the

intervention. It is sometimes called an interrupted time series because the series of observations

is interrupted by a treatment (X).

Interrupted Time-Series Designs

O O O O X O O O O

It is desirable to have at least ten preobservations and a bare minimum of two, but probably

more, postobservations (Schneider et al., 1978, pp. 2-13). Such designs are widely used in criminal

justice research in examining the impact of a new law or treatment upon trends in crime.

Interrupted time-series designs can then be defined as an analysis of a single variable

measured at many successive time points, with some measures taken prior to a treatment

(interruption) and others taken after the treatment. Preproject observations are used as a

basis for estimating the trend, and differences between this projected trend and the trend

observed after treatment can be assessed to determine whether the treatment had an impact.

Figure 3.2 depicts time-series data for a problem-oriented policing program (the treatment)

designed to reduce larcenies from automobiles. The overall reduction in trend lines can be noted

from before to after the intervention.

60

50

40

30

20

10

0

1/82

1/83

1/84

4

7

10

4

7

10

1/85

4

7

10

1/86

4

7

4

7

10

Intervention

Begins

Month and Year

Number of Larcenies

FIGURE 3.2 Time-Series Data for Larcenies from Automobiles in Newport News, Virginia. The

Intervention (Treatment) Was a Problem-Oriented Policing Approach That Consisted of Special

Tracking and Investigation of Crime Incidents. (Source: Spelman, William, and John E. Beck.

"Problem-Oriented Policing." Research in Brief. National Institute of Justice (January 1987): 7.)

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86 Chapter 3 • Research Design

I

I

Conclusion

Using

Pretest-Posttest

Design

Not significant Significant

Not significant Significant

Conclusion

Using

Time-Series

Design

FIGURE 3.3 A Comparison of Pretest-Posttest Designs and Time-Series Designs. (Source: Schneider,

Anne L., et al.Handbook of Resources for Criminal Justice Evaluators. Washington, D.C.: National

Institute of Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice (1978): 2-47.)

Figure 3.3 demonstrates the advantage of time-series designs over simple pretest-posttest

designs.

In both instances, simple analysis of the last point before and the first point after the intervention

would have led to the conclusion of no significant change where, in fact, examination of

trend lines showed significant change.

Monahan and Walker (1990, p. 66) give an illustration of the superiority of a time-series

design over a before-after design in their analysis of the impact of the Community Mental Health

Centers Act of 1963. This program's goal was the reduction of state mental hospitalization.

In 1963, the year the act was passed, the resident population of state mental hospitals

in the United States was approximately 500,000. In 1990, it was less than

150,000. These before-after figures have been used to persuade Congress of the

effectiveness of the act. When a time-series with more than one measurement

before the passage is used, however, the results seem quite different. A time-series

shows the population of state mental hospitals to have increased each year from

early in the century until 1955, and decreased each year thereafter, with no noticeable

acceleration in the rate of decrease in 1963, the year the act was passed. In this

light, the most plausible hypothesis is that the factor causing the population

decrease began in the mid-1950's, and not in the mid-1960's. Many now view the

introduction of psychotropic medication as the principal method of treating mental

patients, which indeed began in 1955, as the most plausible hypothesis to account

for the "deinstitutionalization" of mental hospitals.

In yet other variations of interrupted time-series designs, the impact of new prisons

(experimental counties) was compared with matched/control counties in order to examine the

impact of the prisons. Twenty variables were followed for two years before and two years

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Chapter 3 • Research Design 87

after the prison openings (Smykla et al., 1984). The relationship between "War and Capital

Punishment" was examined by studying the number of executions before, during, and after

three war periods (Schneider and Smykla, 1990).

Multiple Interrupted Time-Series Designs

A distinction is also made between single interrupted time-series designs, which examine one

group or site's preprogram and postprogram outcomes over time, and multiple interrupted timeseries

designs, which contrast one group's performance with that of relevant comparison groups.

Multiple Time-Series Designs

O O O O X O O O O

O O O O O O O O

Although a single interrupted time-series design might examine the impact of the

55-mph speed limit upon vehicular deaths, a multiple interrupted time-series design would

compare a state with the new speed limit with one without it during the same period. For

example, Connecticut's 1955 crackdown on speeding reduced traffic fatalities, whereas

neighboring states without this program experienced no decrease (Campbell and Ross, 1980).

In the 1960s, Boston and New York City had very restrictive handgun licensing laws but complained

that their laws were defeated by guns brought in from nonrestrictive states. Zimring

(1975) studied the impact of the Federal Gun Control Act of 1968 on interstate traffic in guns

on homicide rates and found that handgun homicide rates actually grew faster in New York

City and Boston (the restrictive cities) than the average trend for fifty-seven control cities.

Such time-series designs are indispensable and widely used in criminological and criminal

justice research because the subjects often require analysis of trends or long-range effects

rather than short-term outcomes.

Counterbalanced Designs

Counterbalanced designs are intended to manage or control the problem of multiple-treatment

inference, in which X1 refers to one treatment, X2 a second, X3 a third, and X4 a fourth. By using

four groups that are equivalent and by exposing each group to all four treatments and observing

after each combination of treatments, it becomes possible to isolate the treatment(s), combination

of treatments, or sequence of treatments that produces the outcome. For example, in four

precincts where the treatments were X1-foot patrol, X2-media campaign, X3-police blazers,

and X4-unarmed police, perhaps the desired outcome is obtained only by X3-police blazers

and X1-foot patrol in that sequence of introduction only. Such a design, although complex, is

the only way to uncover such a relationship.

E X1O X2O X3O X4O

E X2O X3O X4O X1OE X

3O X4O X1O X2O

E X4O X1O X2O X3O

There are many other variations of the experimental model. Familiarity with the notation

and basic designs we have discussed enables one to conceptualize these other designs as offshoots

of the basic ones.

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88 Chapter 3 • Research Design

SOME OTHER CRIMINAL JUSTICE EXAMPLES OF VARIATIONS

OF THE EXPERIMENTAL MODEL

The Provo and Silverlake Experiments

Empey and Erickson (1972) and Empey and Lubeck (1971) employed the classic experimental

design to assess the effect of experimental community-based treatment programs in Provo, Utah,

and Silverlake, Los Angeles. The subjects were all juveniles who were either serious and/or

repeat offenders. All were ordinarily candidates for reformatories who were sentenced by a

judge to probation or incarceration. All were male. None were seriously retarded, addicted to

drugs, or had a history of serious assaultive violence.

Although both the Provo and the Silverlake experiments are relatively complex in theoretical

design and methodological execution, a brief review of two elements of the analysis will serve our

purposes. One element in community resistance to community-based treatment programs has been

the fear of crime perpetrated by those undergoing treatment. The Provo researchers, and later the

Silverlake study, compared randomly assigned experimental and control groups from two disposition

conditions. Our discussion is concerned primarily with the Provo Study, although the

Silverlake experience is also briefly discussed.

Provo Research Design

Probation experimental group E O X O

Probation control group E O O

Incarceration experimental group E O X O

Incarceration control group E O O

Equivalence of groups was obtained by randomly assigning those given probation to the

Provo program or regular probation and similarly assigning those scheduled for incarceration to

either the Provo treatment or actual incarceration. With the incarceration group, randomization

broke down because the population was too small and the matched control group was selected

using a state training school.

In evaluating arrest rates as an indicator of crime committed, the probation controls had a

rate twice as high as the probation experimentals. Surprisingly, the arrest rate for "incarcerated"

experimentals was almost as low as that for incarcerated controls. The latter were either on

furloughs or were escapees who, in addition, tended to commit more serious crimes. Similar

findings were obtained in the Silverlake experiment, which added the variables of urban setting

and race (20 percent Hispanic or African American, versus 100 percent Caucasian in the

Provo study).

In analysis of yet another dependent variable, postprogram arrest rates, by means of a

longitudinal follow-up four years after release, the experimental probation types were not

greatly superior to regular probation control types (a 71 percent reduction in crime compared

with the rate four years prior to the experiment, versus 66 percent for the regular probation

group). The "incarcerated" experimental group showed a 49 percent reduction, whereas the

incarcerated control group exhibited only a 25 percent reduction. Maturation or age did not

affect these differences when controlled statistically; that is, these differences operated independently

of age. Among some methodological problems introduced in the Provo experiment

was a breakdown in equivalence, because the judge sentenced too few to the reformatory.

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Chapter 3 • Research Design 89

Additionally, a possible Hawthorne effect was present, as suggested by the fact that the

success rate for the control group given regular probation was higher than that for the same

group before the experiment began. The probation officers' knowledge of the study may

have had this impact (Hood and Sparks, 1971, p. 209).

Despite some problems, given the higher costs of incarceration, the Provo/Silverlake

findings were a major demonstration of the utility of the community-based corrections

movement. Exhibit 3.3 reports on evaluations of shock incarceration.

EXHIBIT 3.3

Evaluations of Shock Incarceration

With a burgeoning prison population in the 1980s,

intermediate sanctions such as electronic monitoring,

intensive probation, and shock incarceration became

popular, cost-effective alternatives to overcrowding

prisons. They turned out not to fit the role of a

popular panacea. Often increased recidivism took

place due to an increased "net of control" (Morris

and Tonry, 1990) or increased technical violations due

to greater surveillance during community supervision

(Petersilia and Turner, 1990). While boot camp

programs (shock incarceration) vary in content, most

involve offenders participating in military-type

training and variations of physical exercise, hard

physical labor, ventilation therapy, substance abuse

therapy, and prerelease education. Doris Mackenzie

and associates have examined a number of boot

camp programs.

Examining a Louisiana boot camp (shock

incarceration) program, Mackenzie and Shaw (1993)

looked at shock incarceration releasees after two

years of community supervision and compared these

with similar offenders who had been given probation

or parole. Four groups of offenders were compared:

shock releasees, probationers, parolees, and shock

dropouts. These were contrasted with respect to

technical violations (terms of supervision offenses),

new crime arrests, and new crime convictions.

The shock graduates had higher rates of technical

violations and revocations than the probationers

and parolees, lower rates of new convictions, and,

in some analyses, lower rates of arrests and revocations

for new crimes. There were no differences

between shock alumnae and shock dropouts in the

Louisiana study (ibid.). This study was an example of

the utilization of a quasiexperimental design with

comparison groups in which there was no random

assignment of subjects. The shock experimentals

were compared with offenders who had been eligible

for shock incarceration but had received other treatments

instead. Possible invalidities in such a design

include selection bias (in that offenders were not

randomly assigned) and the fact that shock offenders

were more carefully scrutinized on release, which

most likely accounted for the greater number of

technical violations (ibid., p. 483).

Between 1982 and 1992, the number of shock

programs had increased to forty-one programs. In an

evaluation of eight shock incarceration programs

in Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, New York,

Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Texas, Mackenzie and

Souryal (1994) found recidivism rates similar to

comparable offenders who did not go through boot

camps. Where shock offenders had lower rates, this

may have been due to selection bias (specially

selected offenders for the program). It appears that

boot camp experience itself does not reduce

recidivism (Travis, 1994). Successful programs were

followed by six-month intensive supervision in the

community. Participants in boot camps gave higher

ratings to their experience and felt safer.

Sources: Mackenzie, Doris L., and James W. Shaw.

"The Impact of Shock Incarceration on Technical

Violations and New Criminal Activities." Justice

Quarterly 10 (September 1993): 462-488; Mackenzie,

Doris L., and Claire Souryal. Multisite Evaluation of

Shock Incarceration. Rockville, M.D.: National Criminal

Justice Reference Service, NCJ #150062, 1994; Travis,

Jeremy. "Researchers Evaluate Eight Shock Incarceration

Programs." National Institute of Justice Update,

October 1994.

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90 Chapter 3 • Research Design

The Kansas City Preventive Patrol Experiment

Yet another variation of the classic experimental design was employed in the Kansas City preventive

patrol study (Kelling et al., 1974).

Experimental Group I (Reactive Patrols) E O1 X1 O2

Experimental Group II (Proactive Patrols) E O1 X2 O2

Control Group (Usual Patrols) E O1 O2

A fifteen-beat area of the city was divided into three matched five-beat groups. The first

group was reactive in patrol procedure; that is, officers responded only to calls for service and

did not deploy preventive patrols. The second group was proactive, and increased preventive

patrols up to three times the normal levels. Usual deployment, or preventive patrols at their

normal levels, was assigned to the control group.

Outcome variables analyzed prior to the treatments, O1, included reported crime and victimization

surveys of citizens and businesses. Posttreatment outcomes in citizen and business

victimization and perception of security and reported and unreported crime showed no statistically

significant differences among the three types of patrol areas studied. Despite methodological criticisms

such as the location of cars withdrawn from reactive patrol, small size of beats, and small

numbers used in the survey, the study suggested that police administrators have greater leeway

than they supposed in patrol deployment (Davis and Knowles, 1975; Kelling and Pate, 1975;

Larson, 1975; Pate et al., 1975; Chaiken, 1976). Similar replications of the Kansas City experiment

essentially confirmed the same findings (Albuquerque, 1979).

In a review of the Kansas City data, critics concluded that it was not likely that randomization

had been used in beat assignments (Feinberg, Singer, and Tanur, 1985). Kelling, the principal

director of the project, admitted that the police selected the beats on the basis of the department's

needs (Fagan, 1990, p. 110). Research by Sykes (1984) further illustrates the need to measure

different outcomes of increased enforcement efforts. In examining saturation patrol as a deterrent to

drunk driving, he found that it did deter some types of deviant behavior but was not a "panacea."

The Minneapolis Domestic Violence Experiment

A 1977 Police Foundation (1977, p. iv) study in Kansas City found that in the two years preceding

a case of domestic assault or domestic homicide, the police had been at the address of the incident

five or more times in half of the cases. This suggested that the police had an opportunity to attempt

to head off domestic violence. Beginning in the late 1960s, the police had been encouraged to train

their officers and utilize counseling and family crisis intervention strategies in domestic dispute

cases. By the 1980s, concern for the rights of female victims, possible lawsuits against police for

failure to make arrests where subsequent violence occurred, and a more conservative punitivepolicy

orientation led to a questioning of this policy.

In 1983, the Minneapolis Domestic Violence Experiment (Sherman and Berk, 1984a, 1984b;

Sherman, 1985) was undertaken to attempt to provide evidence as to the most effective strategy.

The research design is similar to the Kansas City Preventive Patrol Experiment-that is, it contains

three groups (two with different treatments and one control). In Minneapolis, police officers volunteered

to give up their discretion in handling simple (misdemeanor) domestic assaults and take

whatever action was dictated by a random system: instructions written on a card and drawn from an

envelope at the scene. Three different instructions were given: (1) arrest the suspect; (2) separate or

remove the suspect from the scene for eight hours; or (3) advise and mediate.

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Chapter 3 • Research Design 91

Minneapolis Domestic Violence Experiment

Arrest E O1 X1 O2

Separate E O1 X2 O2

Mediate* E O1 O2

After the police intervened, researchers attempted to interview the victims every two weeks

for the next six months, as well as monitor police records to check if there were any subsequent

assaults. The results appeared to be dramatic: 37 percent of the "advised" subjects and 33 percent

of the "separated" subjects had recidivated (committed new assaults within six months); however,

only 19 percent of the "arrested" subjects were repeaters. This reduction was accomplished even

though arrest usually entailed only a night in jail.

The Minneapolis experiment has been both the most widely accepted and the most influential

policy experiment of recent years; no other policy experiment has had quite the same impact on

criminal justice policy. It's effect may be explained in part by the conservative tenor of the times,

which emphasizes a law enforcement orientation for solving social problems; it may also be

explained by the very aggressive dissemination of the study's findings (Binder and Meeker, 1991).

Buzawa and Buzawa (1991) note that even though the research project was a modest pilot study with

acknowledged limitations, extraordinary efforts to publicize the results in the national media

resulted in premature police policy changes. In the first published replication of the study in Omaha,

Nebraska, the researchers Dunford, Hiuzinga, and Elliott (1989, 1990) found that arrest alone did not

have any greater impact than mediation or separation.

Binder and Meeker (1991) have provided the most thorough critique of the Minneapolis

study. They cited several objections:

  • The areas chosen for study were two Minneapolis precincts with the worst domestic violence

rates.

  • Officer participation in the study was not only voluntary, but poor. By the end of the study,

about 28 percent of the cases were being processed by only three officers.

  • Approximately 60 percent of the Minneapolis sample of victims and suspects were

unemployed, whereas a similar study by Ray (1982) in the New York City area found

that most were employed.

  • Nearly 60 percent of the Minneapolis sample had previously been arrested, and only one-third

had had husband-wife relationships. By comparison, in Ray's study (1982) only 10 percent

had previous records, with two-thirds being married couples.

  • The comparison treatments of separation or mediation by police officers without special

training were not realistic comparison points.

  • Other problems with the statistical analysis (Binder and Meeker, 1988) of prison crowding

and of internal factors such as "officer interest in victim's story" raised further questions

regarding the study's broad conclusions.

Further replications will tell us if we have too quickly embraced an "arrest panacea" for

handling domestic disputes. Results from six replications seem to suggest that arrest does not

work more effectively in deterring domestic assault.

The point of all of this is to suggest that research is an ongoing process and one in which

replication is essential; panaceas or simple solutions based on one study are suspect.

* Mediation could be considered a third treatment or X3.

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92 Chapter 3 • Research Design

Advantages of

experiments

If you refused to be intimidated by the researchese in this chapter and learned your X's and

O's and how research design is a powerful tool for controlling rival causal factors, you are now

conversant in the language and actually have gotten through the worst part. In the following

chapters, we attempt to make you fluent in this language.

THE EXPERIMENT AS A DATA-GATHERING STRATEGY

We have thus far viewed experiments primarily from the standpoint of research design; however, the

experiment is also a data-gathering strategy. Through its three key features of assuring equivalence

of groups, pre- and posttests, and experimental and control groups, the experiment is a powerful

strategy for research.

As a research design strategy, the experiment consists of blueprints outlining the conduct

of the study. Saying that the experiment is the benchmark of comparison for other designs

suggests that by using the X and O notation scheme, we can depict a basic model of a research

study and also the potential strengths and weaknesses of such a design or research plan. The

experiment is also a tool for data gathering, a strategy for obtaining and analyzing data. As a

data-gathering strategy, the experiment has many variations that are defined by the setting.

These variations range from laboratory experiments to field experiments, the former having

greatest control over experimental conditions (thus high internal validity); but because of the

very controlled atmosphere, problems may exist in terms of artificiality or external validity.

Field experiments have fewer internal controls but greater external validity. In discussing relative

advantages and disadvantages of the experiment, it is difficult to distinguish whether critics

are talking about a design or data-gathering strategy or whether they are critiquing laboratory

and/or field experiments or both.

Advantages of Experiments

The advantages of experiments are many. They offer the best control for factors that tend to

affect the internal validity of studies. The researcher is able before the fact, by the very design of

the study, to control for many of the rival causal factors that tend to invalidate findings. The

experimenter can control for the effects of many variables by including or excluding them from

the study design.

A second advantage of experiments is that they are relatively quick and inexpensive. In

contrast to many of the other data-gathering strategies that we will examine in Chapters 4-8, an

experiment generally produces the required data necessary for analysis rather quickly.

Depending on the scope of the study and required staff, facilities, and equipment, the experiment

may represent a bargain compared with the expense of surveys or field strategies.

Another advantage of the experiment is its manageability, because the researcher is able to

call the shots by controlling the stimulus, the environment, the treatment time, and even the

degree of subject exposure. The conditions and conduct of experiments are often so rigorously

defined that they lend themselves to replication by which the design and methodology can be

repeated by other investigators. This is a major advantage over some field studies and surveys

where it may be more difficult to repeat all of the ingredients.

Experimental strategies can be applied to natural settings in which the researcher has the best

of both worlds, rigorous control and a more natural setting. If conditions can be viewed as realistic

by subjects, experiments may be the only way of studying certain complex behaviors. Additionally,

"natural experiments," which "occur as part of a natural process, where neither the setting nor the

randomization process are controlled" (Fagan, 1990, p. 13), may present themselves without any

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Chapter 3 • Research Design 93

intervention by the researcher. For example, a new treatment program might be implemented, but it

might be applied to only half of the subjects due to funding shortages.

Disadvantages of Experiments

Despite the many advantages of experiments as a data-gathering strategy, there are potential disadvantages

a researcher should take into account in whether experiments are the preferred strategy.

The major disadvantage of experiments is their artificiality. In essence, the very controls imposed

by the researcher to control for rival causal factors internal to an experiment may create artificial

conditions that impede the ability to extrapolate to larger populations which are subject to natural

conditions. In controlling for extraneous conditions, one may literally be creating a mere shadow of

the former entity. This problem is more severe with laboratory experiments than field experiments.

In a typical critique of the contrived nature of some experiments, Field showed how many

laboratory simulations of jury decision making using college students as jurors may be in error.

Using randomly selected students and nonstudents in juror roles, Field (1978) found students to be

significantly more lenient in their sentencing. Thus, experimental results have no assumed built-in

validity. Some of the scorn with which some experimental researchers view data obtained by other

social science and criminal justice researchers using field research methods is misplaced.

Other major problems relate to the general difficulty of doing experimental research in

terms of obtaining human subjects or situations/conditions in which one can properly manipulate

the variables to be investigated. Major ethical issues can be raised by using experimental

research. Luskin points out the difficulty of implementing experimental designs in court

research. Court personnel may decline to experiment with new procedures or be unable to

manipulate key variables (Luskin, 1978). Hackler suggests that in evaluations of delinquency

prevention programs, traditional experimental-control group procedures are nearly impossible,

create unnecessary stress for program staff, and may produce hostility toward the researcher.

After-the-fact statistical analysis is in this instance viewed as far less obtrusive and more useful

than precontrolled studies (Hackler, 1978). Most judges are unwilling to permit treatment

decisions to be governed by pure random selection. In fact, one professor of criminal law

indicated that such assignment could constitute a violation of the right to due process (Glaser,

1976, p. 775), although others point out that most randomized experiments are ethical and legal

(Erez, 1986). Experimenter effects may also occur in experiments in which those conducting the

research actually selectively observe that they wish to see or unconsciously give cues to the

subjects as to the desired behavior or attitudes expected. Experiments provide an excellent

method for controlling for factors regarding internal validity, but they are often weak with

respect to external validity.

Summary

Assumptions of causality rest at the basis of scientific

investigation. Three essential steps are necessary to

attempt to resolve the causality question: demonstration

of relationship, specification of time order, and

control for, or exclusion of, rival causal variables.

The experimental model is one of the most powerful

means of controlling for rival causal factors before

the fact through the design of research. Rival causal

factors may be treated as factors affecting internal

validity and those affecting external validity.

Although the former are errors introduced because of

flaws within the study, the latter are factors that

impinge on the generalizability of the study to larger

populations. Factors affecting internal validity

Disadvantages

of experiments

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94 Chapter 3 • Research Design

Key Concepts

Steps for Resolving the

Causality Problem 67

Rival causal factors 67

Spurious relationship 67

Internal validity 68

External validity 68

History 68

Maturation 69

Testing 69

Instrumentation 70

Statistical regression 70

Selection bias 70

Experimental mortality 71

Selection-maturation

interaction 71

Testing effects 71

Reactivity 72

Multiple-treatment

interference 72

Hawthorne effect 72

Halo effect 73

Self-fulfilling

prophecy 73

Post hoc error 73

Placebo effect 73

Double-blind experiment 74

Research designs 74

Classic experimental design 74

Equivalence 75

Randomization 75

Matching 75

Pretest-Posttest 75

Experimental group 75

Control group 75

Dualistic fallacy 83

Time-series designs 83

Advantages of experiments 92

Disadvantages of

experiments 93

include history, maturation, testing, instrumentation,

statistical regression, experimental mortality, and

interaction effects such as selection-maturation

interaction. Those impacting on external validity

include testing effects, selection bias, reactivity, and

multiple-treatment interference. Related invalidating

factors include the Hawthorne effect, the placebo

effect, the halo effect, and post hoc error.

The classic experimental design is the benchmark

or point of departure for all other research

designs. That is, in a sense, all forms of research can

be viewed as a variation of the experimental model.

The three basic components of the classic experiment

are pretest and posttest, experimental and control

groups, and equivalence. In addition, familiarization

with the notation of experimental designs is a useful

heuristic device for breaking down the essentials of a

research design. Classic experimental designs

provide for the most rigorous before-the-fact control

over factors of internal validity, and different variations

enable control for rival causal factors.

Illustration of the various designs with examples

from criminal justice research provides the reader

some familiarity with applications of these designs

from the criminology and criminal justice literature.

After this review and examination of examples

of the experimental model and its variations, Chapter

4 will explore the relative advantages and disadvantages

of alternatives to the experimental model in

criminal justice and criminology.

Experimental methods of gathering data have

distinct advantages such as rigid control over rival

factors within the experiment, the relative quick

and inexpensive manner in which readily quantifiable

data can be gathered, and overall manageability

from the standpoint of the researcher. The

disadvantages of experiments often outweigh their

advantages, particularly in dealing with criminal

justice subject matter. Major shortcomings of the

experimental method include artificiality, which

may hinder its generalizability to wider populations,

and difficulty in applying the approach to

human subjects and situations in criminal justice.

Examples of the Kansas City gun experiment,

child abuse victims and violence, and shock incarceration

illustrated various research designs in this chapter.

Review Questions

1. How does research design control for rival causal

factors? Describe, for example, how the classic

experimental design controls for history and

maturation.

2. Find a recent journal article that employs an experimental,

preexperimental, or quasi-experimental design.

Name, describe, and illustrate the design, and discuss

any rival causal factors controlled for in this design.

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Chapter 3 • Research Design 95

Useful Web Sites

Uniform Crime Reports www.fbi.gov

Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics www.albany.

edu/sourcebook/

National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS)

www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/nibrs.htm

Bureau of Justice Statistics www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/

CJ Ed (Researching Criminal Justice) www.cjed.com/

rschers.htm

Jastnet (Justice Technology Information Network)

www.nlect.org/links/statlinks.html

3. Why are time-series designs particularly useful in

criminal justice studies?

4. Design a hypothetical study, and discuss how your

design controls for many rival causal factors.

5. Discuss the Kansas City gun experiment. What type

of research design was employed, and what were the

major findings of the project?

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C H A P T E R

4 The Uniform Crime Reports

and Sampling

The Uniform Crime Reports

The Violent and Property Crime Indexes

Crime Rate

Cautions in the Use of UCR Data

Factors Affecting the UCR

Related UCR Issues

Exhibit 4.1 The Crime Dip

UCR Redesign

National Incident-Based Reporting System

NIBRS versus UCR

Exhibit 4.2 The National Incident-Based

Reporting System (NIBRS)

Sampling

Types of Sampling

Probability Samples

Simple Random Samples

Stratified Random Samples

Cluster Sampling

Systematic Samples

Multistage Sampling

Nonprobability Samples

Quota Samples

Accidental Samples

Purposive Samples

Exhibit 4.3 Crime Profiling

Snowball Sampling

Sample Size

Summary

Key Concepts

Review Questions

Useful Web Sites

This chapter, in part, serves as an introduction to the next four chapters, which deal in

detail with alternatives to the experiment as a data-gathering strategy. These alternatives

include surveys, participant observation, case studies, and unobtrusive measures. The

chapter begins with the examination of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Uniform

Crime Reports (UCR). The UCR serves as a data source, and, for a time, it was about the only

source of information consulted by researchers in examining crime and criminal behavior.

Because most of our later discussion of sources, such as victim and self-report surveys, are contrasted

with the UCR, it receives early and separate coverage in this chapter.

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Research Methods in Criminal Justice and Criminology, Eighth Edition, by Frank E. Hagan. Published by Prentice Hall. Copyright © 2010 by Pearson Education, Inc.

ALTERNATIVE DATA-GATHERING STRATEGIES

As has been indicated, the classic experimental design rests as a reference point with which to

compare all other research strategies; however, this by no means suggests that the experiment

as a method of data gathering is better or a more desirable strategy. This debate among social

scientists, who disagree about which means of data gathering is best, XXXXX XXXXX notion of

methodological narcissism (discussed in Chapter 1), which causes individuals to become so

committed to a particular research strategy that they consider all other approaches inferior. The

final resolution of this issue will be discussed in Chapter 9 under triangulation, where we will

argue that the best resolution of many of these issues is simply to employ multiple methodologies

or a wide array of instruments. Arguments that suggest its superiority are misplaced in

that the experiment, despite its obvious strengths with respect to internal controls, tends to

have primary weaknesses that other techniques do not have with respect to external validity.

Outside of captive prisoner research, many topics in criminal justice require "real-world"

strategies or approaches that bring the researcher into the actual environment of naturally

occurring events (Filstead, 1971). Researchers may wish to examine the controlled experiment

as the ideal in this field and consider whether or not alternatives are more acceptable, if not

more powerful.

Experiments are, therefore, by no means the most effective data-gathering strategy.

Depending on one's subject matter, a variety of techniques may be more appropriate or perhaps

necessary, because not all subjects lend themselves to experimentation. Figure 4.1 is an attempt

to illustrate the relative strengths and weaknesses of major data-gathering strategies. As has been

indicated, experiments are an outstanding method by which the researcher can exercise great

control over factors that may impair internal validity, as well as yield relatively quick and inexpensive

quantitative data; however, such an approach trades such control for its chief limitation

of artificiality.

As we proceed down the vertical arrows in our illustration, we discover that the subsequent

techniques become in general less quantitative, and the research exercises less control

over rival causal factors impacting on internal validity. On the other hand, as we move away

from experimentation, the researcher gains external validity and moves closer to the natural

environment in which behavior occurs (Bouchard, 1976). This scheme is intended as an

"ideal type" that overgeneralizes to simplify presentation. The model is not entirely true in all

cases; for example, some unobtrusive methods can be very quantitative. In fact, our division

Chapter 4 • The Uniform Crime Reports and Sampling 97

quantitative

qualitative less

control

external

validity

natural

artificial

Experiments

Social Surveys

Participant Observation

Case Studies/

Life History Methods

Unobtrusive Measures

greater

control

internal

validity

FIGURE 4.1 Alternative Data-Gathering Strategies in Criminal Justice:

A Heuristic Model.

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Research Methods in Criminal Justice and Criminology, Eighth Edition, by Frank E. Hagan. Published by Prentice Hall. Copyright © 2010 by Pearson Education, Inc.

98 Chapter 4 • The Uniform Crime Reports and Sampling

of methods of data gathering is also somewhat arbitrary but hopefully it organizes these

methods in a manner that clarifies their presentation.

THE UNIFORM CRIME REPORTS

The Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) is a special case in that, of all of the methodological

sources to be discussed, it has traditionally been the most widely cited on crime in the United

States. It is also used as a point of comparison for other data-gathering procedures, particularly

victim surveys and self-reports.

Beginning in 1930, the U.S. Department of Justice instituted the compilation and publication

of national crime statistics. Although participation in the program by police departments and

reports to the FBI, which assumed responsibility as a clearinghouse, was voluntary in nature, the

number of departments and comprehensiveness of reports have continually improved over the

years. Large metropolitan areas were the best participants.

Most newspaper and other media accounts are based on summaries presented in the UCR.

In most instances, these are data presented in an uncritical and alarmist manner without supplying

many of the qualifying problems with the official crime statistics reported. Being the major source

of crime statistics in the United States until 1974, the UCR basically comprises crimes known to,

and recorded by, local police departments. Figure 4.2 illustrates the relationship between crime

committed and other sources of crime statistics including the UCR (crimes recorded).

Although in Chapter 6 we will explore the usefulness of victimization surveys in

estimating the number of crimes committed, it is unclear whether it is possible to obtain an

accurate estimate of the volume of annual crime in American society. For various reasons, not

all crimes committed are discovered; for instance, some crimes involve situations in which

the victim is not aware of having been victimized or there is no identifiable victim. Not all

crimes discovered are reported to the police, and not all crimes reported to the police are

Uniform

Crime Reports

(UCR)

B

A = Crimes Committed Undiscovered

B = Crimes Discovered

C = Crimes Reported

D = Crimes Recorded

A

C

D

FIGURE 4.2 Theoretical Relationship between Crimes Committed and Official Statistics.

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Research Methods in Criminal Justice and Criminology, Eighth Edition, by Frank E. Hagan. Published by Prentice Hall. Copyright © 2010 by Pearson Education, Inc.

Chapter 4 • The Uniform Crime Reports and Sampling 99

recorded by the police. Although some may be concealed, a number of crimes reported are

unfounded or defined by investigating officers as not constituting a criminal matter. Thus,

even though crimes recorded by the police have an uncertain relationship to actual crimes

committed, until 1974 the UCR represented the available statistics on crime in American

society. The further removed statistics are from the crime committed, the weaker the figures

are as estimates of the true crime level. For instance, number of arrests, indictments, convictions,

incarcerations, and other dispositions such as probation or parole are all inadequate in

estimating the amount of crime in a society. They have much more to do with police efficiency

or allocation to correctional systems or other societal policies toward crime. The researcher

who chooses to utilize official statistics must become familiar with any shortcomings or

sources of bias they may contain.

The FBI receives these data from local police departments. In the majority of states, there

are operational state UCR programs in which the states required local departments to report their

data to the state and then share such data with the federal government. In the 1980s, 98 percent

of the police agencies operating in metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs)1 about 94 percent of

"other" cities, and 90 percent in rural areas reported the data. The Census Bureau estimates that

about 97 percent of the total national population was covered by the report.

THE VIOLENT AND PROPERTY CRIME INDEXES

In 2004, the FBI decided to stop reporting the crime index and report instead two indexes: the

violent crime index and the property crime index. An advisory board felt that the original crime

index had been distorted by including the category of larceny theft. Regardless, for those who

wish to make historical comparisons, it is not hard to combine the two and reconstruct the old

total UCR index.

The UCR is divided into Part 1 and Part 2 crimes. Part 1 crimes consist of index crimes

that are major felonies reported to the police that have been selected for special analysis because

of their seriousness, their frequency of occurrence, and the likelihood of being reported to the

police. The violent crime index consists of:

Murder and nonnegligent manslaughter

Forcible rape

Robbery

Aggravated assault

The property crime index includes:

Burglary

Larceny theft

Motor vehicle theft

Arson (data are not included in the index).

Part 2 crimes are nonindex crimes such as simple assault, vandalism, gambling, and

drunkenness. In all, twenty-two other crimes (twenty-one, excluding arson) are accounted for

1 MSA includes central cities (over 50,000) and contiguous counties that are functionally integrated economically and

socially with the core cities.

Index crime

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100 Chapter 4 • The Uniform Crime Reports and Sampling

under Part 2 offenses. Although the FBI indicates that it cannot vouch for the validity of data

received from individual police agencies, it attempts to examine all reports for accuracy,

question any unusual changes in trends, undertake special inquiries if necessary, and eliminate,

estimate, and otherwise control for at least the most crass errors.

Table 4.1 contains the Uniform Crime Reports Indexes.

CRIME RATE

The crime rate is expressed as the number of crimes per unit of population, in this case per

100,000. Such a statistic enables control of population size and thus permits a fair comparison of

different size units. The growth in crime one reads about in the paper is usually based on the

crime rate for the index offenses (excluding arson). Although the notion of scales and indexes

will be treated in Chapter 10, for the purposes of this chapter, it is important to realize that the

crime indexes are unweighted; that is, each offense is merely summed and in a sense given

the same importance as all other offenses. The crime rate is the total number of index crimes

per 100,000 population. Thus, the violent crime rate equals the number of violent index crimes

per 100,000 population, and the property crime index equals the number of property index

crimes per 100,000 population.

CAUTIONS IN THE USE OF UCR DATA

The following statement serves as a caution in using any official government statistics:

The government is very keen on amassing statistics. They collect them, add them,

raise them to nth power, take the cube root and prepare wonderful diagrams. But

TABLE 4.1 The UCR Violent and Property Crime Indexes

Crime Index Offense Number Rate Per 100,000

Violent Crime

Murder and nonnegligent manslaughter 17,034 5.7

Forcible rape 92,455 30.9

Robbery 447,403 149.4

Aggravated assault 860,853 287.5

Property Crime

Burglary 2,183,746 729.4

Larceny-theft 6,607,013 2,206.8

Motor vehicle theft 1,192,809 421.3

Arson1 - -

Violent crime index2 1,417,745 473.5

Property crime index 9,983,568 3,334.5

1Although arson data are included, sufficient data are not available to estimate totals for this offense.

2Violent crimes are offenses of murder, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault. Property crimes are

offenses of burglary, larceny-theft, and motor vehicle theft. Data are not included for the property crime of arson.

Source: Modified from U.S. Department of Justice. FBI Uniform Crime Reports: Crime in the United States, 2006.

Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, September 2007

100 Chapter 4 • The Uniform Crime Reports and Sampling

under Part 2 offenses. Although the FBI indicates that it cannot vouch for the validity of data

received from individual police agencies, it attempts to examine all reports for accuracy,

question any unusual changes in trends, undertake special inquiries if necessary, and eliminate,

estimate, and otherwise control for at least the most crass errors.

Table 4.1 contains the Uniform Crime Reports Indexes.

CRIME RATE

The crime rate is expressed as the number of crimes per unit of population, in this case per

100,000. Such a statistic enables control of population size and thus permits a fair comparison of

different size units. The growth in crime one reads about in the paper is usually based on the

crime rate for the index offenses (excluding arson). Although the notion of scales and indexes

will be treated in Chapter 10, for the purposes of this chapter, it is important to realize that the

crime indexes are unweighted; that is, each offense is merely summed and in a sense given

the same importance as all other offenses. The crime rate is the total number of index crimes

per 100,000 population. Thus, the violent crime rate equals the number of violent index crimes

per 100,000 population, and the property crime index equals the number of property index

crimes per 100,000 population.

CAUTIONS IN THE USE OF UCR DATA

The following statement serves as a caution in using any official government statistics:

The government is very keen on amassing statistics. They collect them, add them,

raise them to nth power, take the cube root and prepare wonderful diagrams. But

TABLE 4.1 The UCR Violent and Property Crime Indexes

Crime Index Offense Number Rate Per 100,000

Violent Crime

Murder and nonnegligent manslaughter 17,034 5.7

Forcible rape 92,455 30.9

Robbery 447,403 149.4

Aggravated assault 860,853 287.5

Property Crime

Burglary 2,183,746 729.4

Larceny-theft 6,607,013 2,206.8

Motor vehicle theft 1,192,809 421.3

Arson1 - -

Violent crime index2 1,417,745 473.5

Property crime index 9,983,568 3,334.5

1Although arson data are included, sufficient data are not available to estimate totals for this offense.

2Violent crimes are offenses of murder, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault. Property crimes are

offenses of burglary, larceny-theft, and motor vehicle theft. Data are not included for the property crime of arson.

Source: Modified from U.S. Department of Justice. FBI Uniform Crime Reports: Crime in the United States, 2006.

Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, September 2007.

Crime rate

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Chapter 4 • The Uniform Crime Reports and Sampling 101

what you must never forget is that every one of these figures comes in the first

instance from the chowty dar (village watchman), who puts down what he damn

pleases (Stamp, 1929, pp. 258-259; cited in Webb et al., 1981, p. 89).

Although the UCR has been steadily improved and refined in its more than half a century

of existence and can serve useful purposes, a researcher using these data for the analysis of crime

must exercise caution and be aware of the limitations of these statistics. An impressive body of

literature on the UCR has accumulated that point out these deficiencies.

Factors Affecting the UCR

Although no attempt will be made here to summarize the many fine critiques of the UCR and

many of the points to be elaborated overlap, some of the primary shortcomings of this source of

crime data can be detailed:

  • As previously suggested in Figure 4.2, recorded statistics represent only a portion of the

true crime rate of a community. Although we will examine victim surveys in detail later,

the Bureau of the Census victim surveys suggest that there is possibly twice as much crime

committed as appears in the official statistics.

  • The big increase in the crime rate beginning in the mid-1960s and extending through

the 1970s was in part explained by better communication, more professional police

departments, and better recording and reporting of crimes. Surprisingly, for instance,

there appears to be a positive relationship between a larger, improved, and professionalized

police establishment and rising crime rates. Higher urban crime rates are

related in part to the fact that there is a higher proportion of formal policing and

professional law enforcement in such areas. Increased urbanization itself also has its

own impact.

  • Increased citizen awareness of crime and a general change in public morality may

have resulted in a larger proportion of crimes committed being reported to the police.

The usual and expected Saturday night barroom brawl of fifty years ago is now regarded

as a serious assault warranting police attention. In light of the success of the civil

rights movement, many more inner-city residents report crimes to the police, expressing

confidence in the greater willingness of the police to respond to crime in their

neighborhood.

  • Generally, most federal cases, "victimless" crimes, and white-collar crimes are not contained

in the UCR. Many of the analyses of age, sexual, and racial characteristics of those

arrested, then, describe the inept and poor criminal or concentrate on "crime in the streets"

rather than "crime in the suites."

  • Changes in police administration, politics in the statistical tabulating process, and,

simply, more attention to better record keeping have had a major impact on crimes

recorded. Obvious inadequacies in statistics from a jurisdiction are checked out by the

FBI. In 1949, for instance, the FBI refused to publish New York City Police Department

statistics. With improved recording, the robbery rate jumped 800 percent. Other changes

in police practices showed jumps of 61 percent in Chicago in 1961 because of a change

in chief, 202 percent in Kansas City in 1959 because of reforms, and 95 percent

in Buffalo in the early 1960s (President's Commission, 1967, p. 25). In 1998, the

Philadelphia Police Department was accused of routine downgrading of crime reports in

which stabbings and beatings were recorded as hospital cases and burglaries became lost

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102 Chapter 4 • The Uniform Crime Reports and Sampling

property (Thousands of Rape Claims, 1999). In 2004, it was charged that the city of

Atlanta had understated its crime rate by 22,000 crimes shortly before being approved

for hosting the Olympics. In 1999, Philadelphia's Sex Crimes Unit dismissed as noncrimes

several thousand reports of rape (Associated Press, 2004). In a humorous example

of questionable statistics, the St. Paul, Minnesota, police department reported having

solved 215 rape cases in 1999, but reported that only 200 rapes had been committed. It

had also reported solving eleven more than that took place in 1997. The department

claimed a bookkeeping error. It turns out that the department had been too generous in

labeling cases as "cleared" beyond the guidelines provided by the FBI. The national

clearance rate for rape is about 50 percent.

Crime rates have a mysterious way of dropping if required for political purposes.

Nixon's identification of the District of Columbia as a target of a crime-busting program

resulted in a dramatic drop in the crime rate that was more likely a matter of classifying

crimes out of the index. Until 1973, grand larceny of $50 or more could simply be classified

as under $50 and thus out of the index (Glaser, 1978, p. 58). An interesting example of

statistical shenanigans occurred in the mid-1970s during police negotiations in Cleveland

under the administration of Mayor Ralph Perk. The police were told that if they expected a

5 percent salary increase, they would have to demonstrate greater efficiency by dropping the

crime rate by a similar amount. Predictably, the crime rate recorded a drop in index crimes.

Sherman (1998) has argued that the more crime data is used to evaluate the police, the

greater the temptation is to cheat. He proposed creating separate, independent crime audits

as a solution. Such manipulation of crime statistics is not limited to the United States.

In 2008, charges were levied by criminologists that the British Home Office was manipulating

research on crime by deliberately withholding or disrupting it. The office was accused

of suppressing statistics and studies that might reflect poorly on government policies

(BBC, 2008).

  • In addition to those factors already indicated, Savitz (1978) notes some limitations of the

crime index. He summarizes a large number of elements that at the very least must be considered

in using the index. In interpreting UCR statistics, one must keep in mind what

arrest statistics do and do not include. Arrests do not equal crimes solved or suspects

found guilty. Many potential crimes are also unfounded by police. These are complaints

that, on investigation by police, are determined not to be criminal matters.

  • In cases of a multiple offense, only the most serious crime is recorded for statistical

purposes. Most crimes that are committed are not index offenses. Questions have been

raised that auto theft, a less serious crime with high reportability and clearance, artificially

inflates the crime index and might best be dropped from the Part 1 designation

(Savitz, 1978).

  • Rhodes points out that inflation caused incidents like bicycle theft to become larceny, an

index crime. In 1973, all larcenies were included as index offenses, thus sharply increasing

the crime rate (Rhodes, 1977, p. 168). At the same time, greater insurance coverage of

property crimes encourages their reporting.

  • To be explored later in Chapter 10 is the problem that the crime index is an unweighted

index; that is, a murder counts the same or has the same weight as a bicycle theft. Imagine

two cities each with a crime rate of 100 per 100,000 population. In City A, 100 murders

were recorded, whereas in City B 100 joyrides were recorded. Somehow, these crime rates

Limitation

of the crime

index

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Chapter 4 • The Uniform Crime Reports and Sampling 103

should not be regarded as the same. Most bodily injury crimes are "nonindex" or Part 2

crimes (Savitz, 1978).

  • The existence of the "crime index" may cause police agencies to concentrate on these

crimes at the expense of other crimes.

  • Although in 1978 Congress required that arson be included as an index offense, it has never

been included in the crime index because of the unreliability of arson offense information.

Jackson (1988) compared UCR arson data with a national survey of 683 fire departments

and found significant underreporting in the UCR. He explains that arson is unlike other

index offenses since determining whether a fire was purposefully set or attempted requires

a specific investigation.

  • Raising yet another limitation, Wilbanks (1986) points out that despite the fact that the

media are fond of ranking cities with respect to index crimes the UCR itself correctly

cautions against comparing statistical data of individual reporting units from cities,

counties, and states solely on the basis of their population coverage. Such features as

population density, size of locality, age structure, population mobility, economic and

cultural conditions, climate, strength of law enforcement agencies and their policies,

politics, citizen attitudes, and reporting practices are all factors that complicate such

comparisons.

RELATED UCR ISSUES

Although it does not speak to any inaccuracy in the UCR itself, demographic shifts may provide

some explanation for rapidly rising or falling crime rates. Some criminologists had forecast the

crime dip in the 1980s, a general stabilization or decline in the crime rate. Although other

factors offset the decline, this prophecy was based on changes in population distribution. For

UCR crime rates, the maximal age range of criminality is 15-19, or 20-24 if an adult cohort is

considered. After World War II, the United States experienced an unprecedented "baby boom," a

much larger than usual proportion of births beginning in 1946 and extending through the 1950s.

This group at first overwhelmed the capacity of hospital nursery wards; later, elementary schools

and high schools were hard pressed to meet the demands for space. In the late 1960s, colleges

could not expand fast enough to accommodate demand. Today most of these sectors have either

stabilized or declined in demand as the economy struggles to supply jobs and housing for the

now mature "baby boom" group. Similarly, the criminal justice system was struggling to deal

with the larger than normal group in the maximum crime-committing ages. As this group moves

into middle age and a smaller proportion of the population will be found in the high-crime ages,

the criminal justice system will hopefully find itself with a far more manageable situation.

A counterbalance to this demographic shift is the relationship between arrest rates and race.

If the birthrates and crime rates of minorities remain higher than the general population, we may

not see much of a drop in the crime rate.

Other variables that may also explain this decline include a greater reliance on longer

sentences, incarceration and incapacitation of serious offenders, a decline in the number of state

UCR programs, and an almost unnoticed decline in the per capita number of police in the United

States since during the 1980s. The researcher who decides to make use of official statistics such

as the UCR must become familiar with their inadequacies to avoid drawing inappropriate

conclusions. Despite the shortcomings that have been identified, the UCR remains an excellent

source of information on police operations. Exhibit 4.1 presents attempts to explain the crime dip

of the 1990s and the early twenty-first century.

Crime dip

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104 Chapter 4 • The Uniform Crime Reports and Sampling

From the earliest compilation of national crime

statistics in the 1930s by the FBI in its Uniform Crime

Reports (UCR) until the early 1960s, the crime rate in

the United States had been declining, so much that

some prognosticators had unwisely predicted that,

given existing trends, growing affluence in America

might make crime a rarity by the twenty-first

century. By the mid-1960s, recorded crime did an

abrupt about face and rose at unprecedented levels,

producing yet new forecasts of unrepentant

explosions in the crime rate. A slight leveling off in

the early 1980s was interrupted by an epidemic of

youth violence beginning in the mid-1980s with the

advent of crack cocaine and the ready willingness to

use weapons to defend warring turf. By the 1990s,

just at the time that an assumed inevitability of such

high crime rates was setting in, an unexpected

decline took place, particularly in large cities.

Between 1993 and 1997, index crimes dropped over

20 percent.

The cause(s) of this decline remains a subject

of dispute. Some factors associated with the decline

in the crime rate in the 1990s include (Witkin, 1998,

pp. 28-37):

a healthy economy

crime prevention programs

decline in domestic violence

an incarceration binge

Compstat and community policing

decline in the crack epidemic

abortion

The healthiest U.S. economy in over thirty

years characterized by low unemployment and low

inflation has been viewed as primarily responsible

for falling crime rates. The relationship is not entirely

clear, however. In the 1960s, crime rates rose sharply

during periods of low unemployment. Sunbelt cities

with low unemployment had higher crime rates

than older cities with high unemployment. In the

1990s, murder in New York City fell over 66 percent

despite high unemployment (ibid., p. 30).

Crime prevention, which holds much promise

with early intervention programs with high risk

youth, has thus far demonstrated only modest

influence on crime rates.

Domestic murders, those among intimates,

showed a 40 percent decrease between 1976 and

1996. This is explained in part by a decline in

marriages among 20-24 year olds as well as

improved opportunities for women to escape

abusive relationships.

The imprisonment binge in the United States

has been phenomenal from about 744,000 in 1985

to 1,726,000 individuals in 1997 incarcerated in

federal, state, and local prisons and jails. This

represents the largest incarcerated population in the

world outside Russia. Locking up an additional million

prisoners must have an impact; however, "New York

City has displayed some of the most dramatic drops in

crime, but the state prison population-70 percent of

which is from the city-has increased only about

8 percent since 1993. Conversely, the law-and-order

state of Utah raised its incarceration rate by

19 percent from 1993 to 1996-but its violent-crime

rate went up" (ibid., p. 31).

Better policing has also been credited with

the decline. New York City, which showed sharp

decreases, utilized "compstats" (computer or

compare statistics) to computer map and identify

"hot spots" (high crime areas) where they would

concentrate their policing efforts. A focus on small,

nuisance crimes as suggested by Wilson and

Kelling's "Broken Windows" (1982) theory was

pointed to. This postulates that small crimes left

unpunished breed more serious crimes. Nationwide,

however, some cities that employed no new

strategies also experienced plunging crime rates as

others who innovated saw rising ones.

The end of the crack cocaine epidemic, which

began rising in 1986, is a promising explanatory factor.

This epidemic had been combined with the carrying of

guns in order to secure operations. These same guns

were then used to settle disputes previously resolved

by fistfights. By the early 1990s, the crack crisis waned,

as did the violent crime rate. In some cases, territories

stabilized, and in others, the ravages of the drugs on

family members as well as incarceration took its toll.

(continued)

EXHIBIT 4.1

The Crime Dip

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Chapter 4 • The Uniform Crime Reports and Sampling 105

EXHIBIT 4.1 (Continued )

A final, controversial explanation is posed by

Levitt and Donohue (1999), who propose that the

advent of legalized abortion with the 1973 Roe v.

Wade decisions explains half the drop in crime

since 1991. Unwanted, potential criminals were

not born and crime declined beginning in 1992,

just when they would have reached their peak

crime years (18-24).

Source: Witkin, Gordon. "The Crime Bust: What's behind

the Dramatic Drug Bust?" U.S. News and World Report,

May 25, 1998, pp. 28-37.

UCR REDESIGN

Beginning in 1977, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, as well as the National

Sheriffs Association, called for a major redesign of the UCR system, and after more than ten years

of effort by committees, task forces, and project staffs, the first major revision in the sixty-year

history of the program was accomplished (Poggio et al., 1985; Rovetch, Poggio, and Rossman,

1984). The lengthy process of the redesign study enabled redesign teams to take advantage of the

decade's revolution in computer technology.

National Incident-Based Reporting System

The major change in the new UCR program was its conversion to a National Incident-Based

Reporting System (NIBRS), which involves a unit-record reporting system in which each local

law enforcement agency reports on each individual crime incident and on each individual arrest.

The original UCR only reported summary counts. The NIBRS uses fifty-two data elements to

describe victims, offenders, arrestees, and circumstances of crimes. While the UCR focuses on

eight index crimes, NIBRS has twenty-two Group A offenses, including bribery, counterfeiting/

forgery, drug and narcotic offenses, extortion/blackmail, fraud, kidnapping, pornography, nonforcible

sex offenses, and firearms violations.

Participation by law enforcement agencies in the program depends upon a department's

data processing resources. If an agency cannot meet full participation requirements, it may limit

itself to reporting details of incidents involving the UCR's eight index crimes rather than the

NIBRS's expanded list of twenty-two crimes (Dodenhoff, 1990, p. 10). NIBRS divides data

collection into two levels. Level I covers all law enforcement agencies and requires basic Group

A incident-based data on the twenty-two categories of offenses. Level II participation includes an

additional eleven-category Group B list of lesser offenses, as well as more detail in submissions.

Agencies serving populations in excess of 100,000 plus a sampling of 300 smaller agencies will

participate in Level II. Exhibit 4.2 reports on features of the NIBRS.

NIBRS versus UCR

Some key differences between the NIBRS and the UCR program include (Rantala, 2000):

  • Incident-Based versus Summary Reporting. The UCR reports Part I (index) offenses and

Parts I and II arrest data in aggregate (summary) form. NIBRS, which requires detailed data

on individual crime incidents and arrests, receives separate reports for each incident/arrest.

These reports include fifty-two data elements describing the victims, offenders, arrestees,

and circumstances of the crime.

National

Incident-

Based

Reporting

System

(NIBRS)

UCR redesign

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106 Chapter 4 • The Uniform Crime Reports and Sampling

Negligent manslaughter

Justifiable homicide

Kidnapping/abduction

Larceny/theft offenses

Pocket picking

Purse snatching

Shoplifting

Theft from building

Theft from coin-operated machines

Theft from motor vehicle

Theft of motor vehicle parts/accessories

All other larceny

Motor vehicle theft

Pornography/obscene material

Prostitution offenses

Prostitution

Assisting or promoting prostitution

Robbery

Sex offenses, forcible

Forcible rape

Forcible sodomy

Sexual assault with an object

Forcible fondling

Sex offenses, nonforcible

Stolen property offenses

Weapon law violations

(continued )

EXHIBIT 4.2

The National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS)

With 1991 data, the Uniform Crime Reports (UCR)

program of the FBI began moving from summary

counts to a more comprehensive and detailed

reporting system known as the National Incident-

Based Reporting System (NIBRS). By 1982, the Bureau

of Justice Statistics (BJS) had already provided over

$11 million to the states to establish centralized statelevel

UCR programs. In a 1985 report, an FBI-BJS task

force that BJS underwrote recommended an incident

based system. When the Attorney General approved

NIBRS, BJS allocated an additional $13 million to the

states to implement the system.

NIBRS versus the Traditional UCR System

The traditional, summary-based UCR system counts

incidents and arrests, with some expanded data on

incidents of murder and nonnegligent manslaughter.

NIBRS, which will eventually replace the traditional

UCR as the source of official FBI counts of crimes

reported to law enforcement agencies, is designed to

go far beyond the summary-based UCR in terms of

information about crime.

One important difference between the two

systems is number of crime categories. The traditional

UCR counts incidents and arrests for the eight offenses

of the FBI Crime Index and counts arrests for other

offenses; NIBRS provides detailed incident information

on forty-six Group A offenses representing twentytwo

categories of crimes (Table A).

NIBRS, unlike the traditional UCR, also makes

a distinction between attempted and completed

crimes.

TABLE A The NIBRS Group A Offenses

Arson

Assault offenses

Aggravated assault

Simple assault

Intimidation

Bribery

Burglary/breaking and entering

Counterfeiting/forgery

Destruction/damage/vandalism of property

Drug/narcotic offenses

Drug/narcotic violations

Drug equipment violations

Embezzlement

Extortion/blackmail

Fraud offenses

False pretenses/swindle/confidence game

Credit card/ATM fraud

Impersonation

Welfare fraud

Wire fraud

Gambling offenses

Betting/wagering

Operating/promoting/assisting gambling

Gambling equipment violations

Sports tampering

Homicide offenses

Murder/nonnegligent manslaughter

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Chapter 4 • The Uniform Crime Reports and Sampling 107

EXHIBIT 4.2 (Continued )

In September 1982, a BJS-FBI task force

undertook a study of improvements to the Uniform

Crime Reporting Program, which was created in

1930. Law enforcement organizations, state UCR

program managers, and the research community

strongly supported this effort. In January 1984, a

conference considered various recommendations,

and in 1985, BJS and the FBI released the Blueprint for

the Future of the Uniform Crime Reporting Program.

The resulting program, the NIBRS, collected

its first data in 1991. An estimated 40 percent of

the nation reported to the NIBRS by the end of

1994. NIBRS represents a new way of thinking

(continued)

about crime, providing details about victims,

offenders, and the environments in which they

interact. This report on the first NIBRS data is a

beginning step toward using the data for planning

and evaluating law enforcement responses to crime.

It also illustrates the close partnership among BJS,

the FBI, and the more than 17,000 State and local

law enforcement agencies.

NIBRS collects arrestee information on the

forty-six Group A offenses and an additional eleven

Group B offenses (Table B). Unlike the traditional

UCR, NIBRS requires arrests as well as exceptional

clearances to be linked to specific incidents.

TABLE B The NIBRS Group B Offenses

Bad checks Drunkenness Runaway

Curfew/loitering/vagrancy Liquor law violations Trespassing

Disorderly conduct Nonviolent family offenses All other offenses

Driving under the influence Peeping Tom

In addition to expanded crime categories,

NIBRS definitions of certain offenses are more

inclusive than the traditional UCR definitions. For

example, the NIBRS definition of rape has been

expanded to include male victims.

In incidents where more than one offense

occurs, the traditional UCR counts only the most

serious of the offenses. NIBRS includes information

about each of the different offenses (up to a maximum

of ten that may occur within a single incident). As a

result, the NIBRS data can be used to study how often

and under what circumstances certain offenses, such

as burglary and rape, occur together.

The ability to link information about many

aspects of a crime to the crime incident marks the

most important difference between NIBRS and the

traditional UCR. These various aspects of the crime

incident are represented in NIBRS by a series of

more than fifty data elements (Table C).

The NIBRS data elements are categorized in six

segments: administrative, offense, property, victim,

offender, and arrestee. NIBRS enables analysts to

study how these data elements relate to each other

for each type of offense.

Administrative segment includes the ORI

(originating agency identifier) and incident numbers

that uniquely identify each incident. These tie

together all the records of a single incident. The

administrative segment also includes the date and

hour of the incident and if relevant, exceptional

clearance information.

Offense segment includes the type of

offense(s) reported, whether the offense was

attempted or completed, whether the offender was

suspected of using drugs or alcohol, the type of

location where the offense occurred (such as a store

or residence), the type of weapon or force used,

and whether the offender was motivated by bias

against the victim's race, religion, ethnicity, or sexual

orientation. For certain offenses, the type of criminal

activity (such as possessing, selling, or transporting)

is indicated. For burglary incidents, the method of

entry and the number of premises entered are

included.

Property segment includes (for all property

offenses, extortion, kidnapping, and a few other

specified offenses) the type of property loss (burned,

counterfeited, destroyed, seized, or stolen), the type

of property involved (such as cash or jewelry), the

value of the property, and, if recovered, the recovery

date. For incidents of motor vehicle theft, special

indicators for the number of stolen and recovered

vehicles are included. For drug offenses, the type and

quantity of illegal drug(s) seized are included.

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.

108 Chapter 4 • The Uniform Crime Reports and Sampling

TABLE C NIBRS Data Elements

Administrative segment:

1. ORI number

2. Incident number

3. Incident date/hour

4. Exceptional clearance indicator

5. Exceptional clearance date

Offense segment:

6. UCR offense code

7. Attempted/completed code

8. Alcohol/drug use by offender

9. Type of location

10. Number of premises entered

11. Method of entry

12. Type of criminal activity

13. Type of weapon/force used

14. Bias crime code

Property segment:

15. Type of property loss

16. Property description

17. Property value

18. Recovery date

19. Number of stolen motor vehicles

20. Number of recovered motor vehicles

21. Suspected drug type

22. Estimated drug quantity

23. Drug measurement unit

Victim segment:

24. Victim number

25. Victim UCR offense code

Victim segment includes a victim identification

number, the UCR code for offense(s) committed

against the victim, and the victim's sex, age, race,

ethnicity, and residential status. In cases where the

victim is not an individual, codes are used to

distinguish among businesses, financial institutions,

governments, religious organizations, and society at

large. For incidents of homicide or aggravated

assault, codes describing the circumstances of the

incident (such as an argument or drug deal) are

provided. In incidents where the victim is injured,

information describing the injury (such as fractures

26. Type of victim

27. Age of victim

28. Sex of victim

29. Race of victim

30. Ethnicity of victim

31. Resident status of victim

32. Homicide/assault circumstances

33. Justifiable homicide circumstances

34. Type of injury

35. Related offender number

36. Relationship of victim to offender

Offender segment:

37. Offender number

38. Age of offender

39. Sex of offender

40. Race of offender

Arrestee segment:

41. Arrestee number

42. Transaction number

43. Arrest date

44. Type of arrest

45. Multiple clearance indicator

46. UCR arrest offense code

47. Arrestee armed indicator

48. Age of arrestee

49. Sex of arrestee

50. Race of arrestee

51. Ethnicity of arrestee

52. Resident status of arrestee

53. Disposition of arrestee under 18

EXHIBIT 4.2 (Continued )

or lacerations) is included. Each victim is linked by an

offender number to the offender(s) who committed

an offense against him or her, and the nature of the

victim's relationship (such as family member,

acquaintance, or stranger) to each offender is

reported.

Offender segment includes information on

the age, sex, and race of the offender.

Arrestee segment includes information on

persons arrested in connection with the incident,

including the date of arrest, the age, sex, race,

ethnicity, and the residential status of the arrestee.

(continued)

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Chapter 4 • The Uniform Crime Reports and Sampling 109

EXHIBIT 4.2 (Continued )

An example of how those interested in the

study of crime can tap the potentially rich source

of new information represented by NIBRS is seen in

the Supplementary Homicide Reports data

published annually by the FBI in its Crime in the

United States series. Cross tabulations of various

incident based data elements are presented,

including the age, sex, and race of victims and

offenders, the types of weapon(s) used, the

relationship of the victim to the offender, and the

circumstances surrounding the incident (e.g.,

whether the murder resulted from a robbery, rape,

or argument). These data were provided to the FBI

for about 87 percent of the 24,703 murders

reported nationwide in 1991.

For other violent crimes such as rape and

robbery, UCR data beyond the summary counts have

generally been limited to a univariate distribution by

month. With the advent of NIBRS, the supplemental

data elements that were previously available only for

murder incidents can now be used in the analysis of

other violent crimes.

Of course, NIBRS also provides some data

elements that were not previously available for any

violent crimes, including murder. These new data

elements include whether the offender was suspected

of using alcohol or drugs shortly before or during the

incident, the type of location of the crime, the

residential status of the victim, and the nature of any

injuries sustained by the victim.

For robbery incidents, NIBRS also provides

previously unavailable data describing the property

that was lost and its value. Using NIBRS, a researcher

could study carjackings, for example, by selecting

robbery incidents that included a vehicle as the

property description.

Source: Reaves, Brian A. "Using NIBRS Data to Analyze

Violent Crime." Bureau of Justice Statistics Technical

Report, October 1993.

  • Expanded Offense Reporting. The UCR is a summary-based system and collects totals on

criminal incidents in eight offense classifications within the Part I type. NIBRS receives

detailed reports on twenty-two categories and forty-six offenses in the Group A list.

It adds the following list to the original UCR Part I crimes: bribery, counterfeiting and

forgery, vandalism, drug offenses, embezzlement, extortion and blackmail, fraud, gambling

offenses, kidnapping, pornography, prostitution, nonforcible sexual offenses, weapons law

violations, and stolen property offenses. In addition, many of the Part I offenses have been

expanded. For example, the forcible rape category now includes all forcible sexual offenses,

such as forcible sodomy, sexual assault with an object, and forcible fondling.

  • New Offense Definitions. In addition to expanding the original list of UCR offense categories,

NIBRS revised the existing definitions of crime. Rape, for example, is defined as "the carnal

knowledge of a person, forcibly and/or against that person's will; or, not forcibly or against a

person's will where the victim is incapable of giving consent because of his/her temporary or

permanent mental or physical incapacity" (ibid.).

  • Elimination of the Hierarchy Rule. Under the UCR "hierarchy rule," if multiple crimes took

place within the same event, only the single most serious crime was reported. NIBRS eliminates

the hierarchy rule and cites all crimes reported as offenses within the same incident.

  • Greater Specificity of Data. Because it collects more specific information regarding criminal

incidents, NIBRS data will eventually lead to more detailed crime analysis, criminal

profiling, and crime reporting. NIBRS will also have the capability of providing breakdowns

regarding victims, cost, involvement of weapons, injuries, and the like, innovations

that had not been possible in the past.

  • Crimes against Society. Whereas the UCR distinguishes between "crimes against person"

and "crimes against property," the addition of many new offense categories in NIBRS

necessitated the creation of a new category-"crimes against society." This category

includes crimes such as drug offenses, gambling violations, pornography, and prostitution.

Hierarchy rule

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.

110 Chapter 4 • The Uniform Crime Reports and Sampling

  • Attempted versus Completed Crimes. The UCR system reports many attempted crimes as

completed ones. The NIBRS system will include a designation of each crime as either

attempted or completed.

  • Designation of Computer Crime. With NIBRS data of the future, it will be possible to

determine whether a traditional crime, for example larceny, was committed by computer.

But this specificity will not eliminate the traditional classifications that are important for

historical trend analysis.

  • Better Statistical Analysis. NIBRS will permit a greater opportunity for examining interrelationships

between many variables such as offenses, property, victims, offenders, and arrestees.

These features represent the first major overhaul of the UCR system in more than fifty years.

On a final note, mention should be made of the growing international effort with respect

to crime statistics. Organizations such as Interpol, the United Nations, and the World Health

Organization all have programs of collection. Some of the problems in analyzing these data

are the same as those affecting the UCR. Difficulties in analyzing crime data across countries

include: varying definitions of crime; differences in recording practices; differences in the law;

the stage of the system when crime is recorded; factual inequalities among countries in age

and urban/rural structure; and specific problems associated with recording crime (statistics

may be related to politics or measures of system workload) (van Dijk and Kangaspunta, 2000).

SAMPLING

Sampling may be used with any of the data-gathering procedures we discuss. The fact that it is

included here with surveys is simply a matter of editorial convenience. Some research involves a

complete enumeration of the total population, households, or the target of study. Ever since

1790, the U.S. Census has attempted to survey every household unit-man, woman, and child-

every ten years. Similarly, city directories attempt to count and obtain information on all persons

eighteen years of age or older who reside within their urban target areas.

Rather than attempting to enumerate an entire population, most studies make use of

sampling. Sampling is a procedure used in research by which a select subunit of a population is

studied in order to analyze the entire population. Sampling enables an inexpensive, relatively

quick assessment, by even small groups of researchers, of a population that is often so large that

complete enumeration is prohibitive. The logic of sampling enables one to make inferences to a

larger population (Kish, 1965).

The initial step in selecting a sample is to develop a sampling frame, a complete list of the

population (or universe) that one is interested in studying. For example, if one is interested in generalizing

all judges in California, a complete list of such judges would constitute the sampling frame.

TYPES OF SAMPLING

The major types of sampling procedures follow.

Probability Nonprobability

Simple Random Quota

Stratified Random Accidental

Cluster Purposive

Systematic (Multistage) Snowball

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Chapter 4 • The Uniform Crime Reports and Sampling 111

Probability Samples

Probability samples refer to samples that permit estimation of the likelihood of each element of

the population being selected in the sample.

Simple Random Samples. Simple random samples (SRSs) are samples in which each

element of the population (or universe) has an equal probability of being selected. Sometimes

the mnemonic device EPSEM samples are used to denote the key features of an SRS (Babbie,

1992, p. 197).

EPSEM, a means of sample selection, is an acronym that stands for Equal Probability of

SElection Method. This method provides a way for selecting a sample in which each and every

unit or person in the population has the same or equal chance of appearing in the sample.

EPSEM or probability samples are very important in the field of statistics because the various

calculations and estimations of statistics assume that the sample was chosen by some probability

method. In describing samples that use an EPSEM, we will use the shorthand acronym EPSEM.

If probability methods have been utilized in selection of the sample, the concept of sampling

error enables researchers to assess confidence limits so that with a given degree of error,

they can assume that what is true of the sample is true of the population and that the sample mean

approximates that of the population.

Procedure. To select an SRS, it is necessary to acquire a clear and complete list of all elements

of the population because all elements must be independently and randomly chosen. Suppose

there were thirty people in a room and a simple random sample of five were to be drawn. One

could give each person a number, drop these numbers into a hat, scramble them, and then draw

five, one at a time. State lottery daily numbers usually make use of an honest gambling device

procedure that is essentially an SRS. What if, as in a large survey of the public, one wished to

draw a simple random sample of adults from a city of a million? Obviously, one would not put

numbers in a hat. To sample such large populations, researchers make use of a table of random

numbers. Figure 4.3 illustrates a theoretical population and a hypothetical typical table of random

numbers. Appendix B contains a larger table of random numbers.

To select a sample of ten inmates, one would first number the list of inmates, then choose

a random start, for example, the top left of Table of Random Numbers. As the entire population

consists of fifty cases, numbers from 00 to 99, or two-digit numbers, would enable each name to

have an equal probability of selection. Numbers from 51 to 99 are, of course, unusable; if these

numbers are chosen, they should be skipped and the selection process continued until the next

two-digit number between 01 and 50. According to Figure 4.3, the first number is XXXXX

Bruno, the second is 00-no case, the third is 16-Mike Federici, and so forth, until ten cases are

chosen. If the same number is XXXXX twice, it is skipped because each respondent should appear

only once in the sampling frame. For complex sampling, various computer programs are available

that provide an SRS of a specified size.

Advantages/Disadvantages. The chief advantage of the SRS is that it enables the use of statistical

probabilities that are necessary in many statistical procedures. The primary disadvantages of

the SRS, however, are that it requires a complete list of the population to be sampled and, if large

numbers are involved, it can become a rather tedious and cumbersome procedure, although this

can be offset by computer. The SRS by no means guarantees a representative sample. On the last

point, by chance it is possible in our San Rocco sample to obtain a sample that is 50 percent

female, even though females represent only 10 percent of the population. As we will see in

our discussion, the probability of this occurring is small, but it certainly is possible. Such a

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112 Chapter 4 • The Uniform Crime Reports and Sampling

nonrepresentative sample certainly raises problems for a researcher attempting to infer to the

larger population. Primarily for this reason, much survey research involving sampling utilizes

stratified random samples.

Some examples of research employing SRSs include a study of New York City drug laws by

Japha (1978) in which he randomly selected cases from the Criminal Court of Manhattan of persons

convicted for a nondrug felony who had been given a nonincarceration sentence. In addition,

he drew random samples of cases entering court for arraignment, cases reduced or dismissed at

first arraignment, clients in drug treatment programs, and males held on felony charges in

Manhattan. Sparks (1982), in a study of Massachusetts statewide sentencing guidelines,

constructed a random sample of 1,440 convicted criminals who had been sentenced in the

Massachusetts Superior Court during a one-year period.

Stratified Random Samples. Stratified random samples rely on knowledge of the distribution

or proportion of population characteristics to choose a sample that assures

representativeness of these characteristics. Such characteristics are generally demographic in

nature, such as age, sex, race, social class, or of pertinence to the study, such as area of residence,

nature and type of criminal record, region, or some quality of importance in the analysis.

The general procedure involves dividing the population into strata or groups based on

the variable(s) of stratification and then selecting the sample either proportionately or disproportionately,

depending on the decision made in this regard. For proportionate stratified

samples, sample subjects are chosen in roughly the same ratio as exists in the population.

For instance, suppose that in our San Rocco study of fifty inmates, we wanted to choose a

proportionate stratified sample by sex of ten inmates. Because one of ten is a female in the

population, we must be certain that only one of the ten subjects in the sample is female. Such

a procedure assures representativeness by sex, unlike the SRS in which half of the sample

were females.

FIGURE 4.3 Sampling Frame of Inmates at San Rocco Correctional Institution.

*This table of random numbers is provided for illustration purposes only. For actual projects, consult Appendix B.

Angelo, Gerald Clemons, Randy Kozak, Dave Parks, Zeke Thiel, Myrtle

Bell, Earl Dammer, XXXXX XXXXX, Ed Penn, Wally XXXXX, XXXXX

Bender, Harry Dutkowsky, Andrew Mack, Bob Quick, Bob Tierney, Estelle

Benekos, Peter Edsel, Earl McGill, Bill Rapp, Sean Unterwagner, Jim

Bethune, David Erisman, XXXXX XXXXX, XXXXX Rasp, Doug Vance, Lance

Bozo, Boris Frederici, Mike Mucha, XXXXX XXXXX, XXXXX Vega, Terence

Bruno, Albert Goblick, Al Norris, Herb Runt, Juan Wahlen, John

Burns, Rich Hairbreath, Harry Numa, Tod Saxon, Sid Wayne, Mike

Buxton, Bob Harlow, Joe Obernan, Stan XXXXX, XXXXX Weeks, Bary

Buzawa, Eve Johnson, LeXXXXX XXXXX, Omar Simpson, Ted Zeno, Mike

TABLE OF RANDOM NUMBERS*

07001 61569 08812 07344 92880 71728

43102 29751 87806 12031 56214 41387

61622 71481 20091 37658 99612 28143

50126 51296 07509 61483 25143 619747

. Chapter 4 • The Uniform Crime Reports and Sampling 113

Disproportionate stratified sampling involves oversampling-taking a larger than proportionate

number of certain groups to assure the appearance of a sufficient number of cases for comparative

purposes of a group that is small in the population. Again, returning to our example in Figure 4.3,

suppose that we wished to investigate differences between male and female inmates at San Rocco.

An SRS could result in a sample of all males, which would certainly destroy our ability to even

conduct the study. A proportionate stratified sample would yield one female and nine males, a

situation that would be quite hazardous because, on every variable of analysis, the 100 percent

response of females would be referring to only one respondent. A disproportionate stratified

sample might take all five female subjects and compare them with a sample of male respondents,

for example, five males. There is generally no problem in comparing males with females using a

disproportionate stratified sample; however, if inferences were to be attempted from a sample that

is overrepresentative of females to all inmates, the sample is obviously nonrepresentative.

Weighting of sample responses is a recommended procedure to adjust sample data to enable

inference to the general population. Basically, weighting involves the differential assignment of

adjustment factors to data to take into account the relative importance of that data.

Table 4.2 illustrates this process.

The responses of the males in the sample would in actuality carry nine times more weight than

those of females. That is, each response of males in the sample actually represents the response of

nine males-the respondent and eight others-whereas the female respondent represents only

herself. Thus, disproportionate stratified sampling permits comparisons between subgroups where at

least one of the subgroups might otherwise be too small. In the early victimization surveys of select

U.S. cities conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau on behalf of the Department of Justice, the

sampling frame was the complete housing inventory for the city as determined by the 1970 Census

of Population and Housing. To select a stratified sample, the city's housing units were categorized

into 105 strata, for example, own or rent, occupied or unoccupied, and single-family or multipledwelling

unit (Criminal Victimization Surveys in Milwaukee, 1977). Garofalo describes the

sampling procedure utilized in the initial study of eight cities involved in Law Enforcement Assistant

Administration's (LEAA's) High Impact Crime Reduction Program:

Supplemental samples were drawn from new construction permits issued in each

city. Census Bureau interviewers visited the housing units selected and interviewed

residents about personal and household victimizations suffered during the preceding

twelve months. About 10,000 households or 22,000 individuals were interviewed in

each city. . . . The samples were sufficiently large to make reliable estimates of what

the attitude responses would have been if everyone in the city had been interviewed

(Garofalo, 1977, p. 14).

The numbers in the victimization survey report are weighted estimates as if the entire population

were surveyed. The history of the operation of Bureau of Justice Statistics-sponsored

victimization surveys will be covered in depth in Chapter 6.

TABLE 4.2 San Rocco Correctional Institution: Weighting

of Disproportionate Sample

Population

Disproportionate

Stratified Sample Weight

Male 45 5 9 ×

Female 5 5 1 × or none

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114 Chapter 4 • The Uniform Crime Reports and Sampling

In an analysis of characteristics of high- and low-crime neighborhoods in Atlanta,

Greenberg, Williams, and Rohe (1982) utilized a stratified random sample from three matched

pairs of neighborhoods selected on the basis of crime, racial, and income characteristics. A study

of the relationship between narcotics addiction and criminal activity in Baltimore by Nurco et al.

(1985) involved a sample of 354 male narcotic addicts who were selected using a stratified

random sample of a population of 6,149 known narcotics abusers who had been arrested or identified

by the Baltimore Police Department between 1952 and 1976. The sample was selected not

on the basis of criminality but by race and year of police contact.

Cluster Sampling. Cluster sampling is generally used in surveys that involve field interviews

and is most useful in studies that involve widely dispersed subjects. The population to be surveyed

is divided into clusters, for example, census tracts, blocks, and sections, and then a probability

sample of clusters is selected for study. Such a sampling procedure is less time consuming and

costly, particularly in terms of field staff. Once the clusters are chosen, other sampling procedures,

such as a systematic sample of every nth house, may be employed. Cluster sampling is particularly

useful as a means of reducing travel costs in field interviewing.

An example of the use of cluster sampling is provided by Schuerman and Kobrin's

(1986) study of neighborhood change and criminal activity in Los Angeles. They drew a sample

from census tract clusters in Los Angeles County that were defined as high-crime areas in

1970. They then used a statistical procedure to assemble contiguous census tracts into 192

clusters or neighborhoods and studied the impact of socioeconomic and demographic trends in

these areas on crime rates. Sigler and Johnson (1986; see also Sigler and Haygood, 1988), in a

study of public perceptions of sexual harassment in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, employed a multistage,

stratified cluster sample in which grids on city maps, blocks, and residences were the

sampling units.

Systematic Samples. In systematic samples every nth item in a list is included in the sample. (In

the language of statistics, n represents every second, third, fourth, or nth case.) Purists insist that

such a sample is a nonprobability sample, because various patterns, for example ethnic surnames,

may exist in a list that would destroy its representativeness. If offenders or arrestees were listed in

order of offense seriousness, the final sample may be biased. This writer has chosen to place

systematic sampling in the probability group because the majority of researchers feel that it

satisfies the EPSEM requirement and belongs in the probability group. To illustrate systematic

sampling, let us return to Figure 4.3, the San Rocco example. Suppose we wished to select a

sample often from a population of fifty. Assuming the names are XXXXX XXXXX we would

first select the proper sampling interval, in this case every fifth name. Sampling intervals are

selected by the ratio of sample size to population size-in our example, ten of fifty or one of five.

By choosing every fifth, theoretically every name in the population list has an equal probability of

being chosen so long as one uses a random start. Random start involves randomly choosing where

the interval will begin within the first interval-in this case, 1 to 5. For example, if the number 3

were chosen from a table of random numbers, the sample selected with the every-fifth-sampling

interval would be 3, 8, 13, 18, 23, 28, 33, 38, 43, and 48. As long as one both suspects that there is

no pattern in the population list and uses the proper sampling interval and random start, such that

each individual or unit has an equal probability of being chosen, a probability sample exists. The

obvious advantage of systematic samples is their relative ease of selection, although it may

become burdensome with large populations. In choosing a systematic sample from a uniformly

spaced list of names, a simple procedure, once the random start is selected, is to mark off with a

ruler or other measuring rod and proceed down the list until all cases are selected.

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Chapter 4 • The Uniform Crime Reports and Sampling 115

Multistage Sampling. Multistage sampling involves combinations of stratified, cluster, simple

random samples, and/or other sampling procedures. For example, a national survey of neighborhood

crime might stratify first on the basis of region-north, east, south, west. Within regions,

clusters are randomly selected, and within the selected regions, blocks are randomly selected for

door-to-door household interviews. Multistage sampling can become quite complex, as illustrated

by the study of media crime prevention campaigns by O'Keefe et al. (1984).

The population examined included a national sample of the noninstitutionalized U.S.

civilian population of age eighteen and over. A one-call quasi-probability sample design was

employed, based upon the Roper Organization's master national probability sample of interviewing

areas. First, 100 counties were chosen at random proportionate to population after all

counties in the nation had been stratified by population size within geographic region. Second,

cities and towns were randomly selected from the sample counties according to their population.

Third, four blocks or segments were then drawn within each location. Quotas for sex and

age, as well as for employed women, were set in order to assure proper representation of each

group in the sample (O'Keefe et al., 1984, in Loftin, 1987, p. 100).

Nonprobability Samples

Any sampling procedure that violates the EPSEM is viewed as a nonprobability sample.

Quota Samples. Quota samples are nonprobability stratified samples. The researcher attempts to

ensure that the sample proportions, for example, age, sex, and race, resemble those of the population,

but does not fill these proportions or quotas on the basis of an EPSEM. Rather than attempting to

ensure that each element of each quota has an equal chance of appearing in the sample, the

researcher uses skilled judgment to select adequate numbers to fill each quota. The data are collected

and analyzed on an ongoing basis until an adequate decision or prediction of outcome becomes

possible. Quota sampling is the favorite technique of many private marketing and consumer survey

organizations. Often at shopping malls, interviewers eyeball shoppers until someone appearing to fit

the requirements of one of their quotas is identified-for example, a black male in his forties. At

times, the interviews are aborted when, on the basis of demographic information, it turns out that the

interviewer guessed wrong on a characteristic and the individual is not needed in the quota.

An illustration of a quota sample is provided in a Philadelphia bail experiment conducted by

Goldkamp and Gottfredson (1984). First, a sample of judges was selected from Philadelphia

Municipal Court, and then cases from court files were selected according to a stratified quota

sampling design by which cases were chosen on the basis of both seriousness of charge and judge.

A quota sample was also used in a study of criminal victimization among the homeless in

Birmingham, Alabama (Fitzpatrick, LaGory, and Ritchey, 1993). The researchers used a previous

Birmingham Homeless Enumeration and Survey Project to construct sampling parameters and

stratified on geographic site, gender, and race. They then conducted a quota sample survey of 150

homeless adults by randomly selecting persons from each homeless shelter or public site to match

the proportions found in the previous enumeration. After determining the number of respondents

required from the site, interviewers selected subjects on the basis of sex and race. The demographic

characteristics of the sample matched those of previous studies conducted in Texas and Tennessee.

Accidental Samples. Accidental samples are the favorite "person on the street" interviews

where the "researcher" makes little attempt to ensure representativeness of the sample. This is

well illustrated by many television commercials, for example, "Nine out of ten doctors recommend

__________ ." Which nine of ten? An interview of the easiest and most accessible

generally will not yield data from which one could infer to larger populations.

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116 Chapter 4 • The Uniform Crime Reports and Sampling

Purposive Samples. Purposive (judgmental) samples, on the other hand, represent the

selection of an appropriate sample based on the researcher's skill, judgment, and needs. This type

of sampling is well used on election nights when the major networks, based on sample precincts,

are able to quite accurately predict the likely outcome, often with a small margin of error with

only 2 percent of the votes cast. Marketing studies often use test areas that possess characteristics

quite similar to those of the nation. Both political campaign planners and market analysts have

made use of focus groups. Organizers of these focus groups bring together purposively selected

volunteers in order to measure reactions to or attitudes about products, candidate speeches, and

the like (Krueger, 1994 and 1997; Morgan, 1993; Stewart and Shamdasani, 1990).

The use of focus groups and mock trials as courtroom tools are burgeoning areas of applied

research. Focus groups involve bringing together a group of purposely selected volunteers in order

to measure reactions to or attitudes concerning products, candidates, defendants, and the like. They

are a means of gathering in-depth, qualitative data. In measuring business products, a focus group

of eight to twelve people may be brought together for a round table discussion of one to two hours.

Such participants are often recruited by telephone, matched on key demographic characteristics,

and offered an incentive to participate. Topics to be discussed are planned in conjunction with the

client or research issue. In addition to videotaping the discussion and observation, often through

two-way mirrors, subjects are also requested to fill out a questionnaire.

The dynamics of focus group interviews lie in the group process in which participants

influence each other, opinions change, and new views emerge. The participants learn from each

other (Krueger, 1997, p. 20). In the final analysis, the true test of focus group results is whether they

work in predicting product sales, future behavior, court outcomes, or whatever the topic under

investigation. Researchers can ask a small group of six to twelve people questions that will stimulate

lively discussion. The focus group members are the experts giving their opinion to the researcher.

Wanting to find out about kids who frequent crack houses, Bowser hung out in an inner-city

neighborhood and, once accepted, invited kids to join a focus group at a local pizza place and asked

them how to go about surveying the subject (Bowser and Sieber, 1993). Such groups can operate

very inexpensively and simply. Most researchers employ a discussion leader plus two assistants

(notetakers). Some essential elements of conducting focus groups include (ibid., pp. 81-82):

  • Organize questions and probes beginning with general to concluding questions.
  • Reduce these to five to seven general questions.
  • Define your target population.
  • Select homogeneous groups of six to twelve people. Do not mix genders, socioeconomic

status, or people who might be guarded around each other.

  • Select good gatekeepers to aid in recruitment.
  • Effectively invite them and provide incentives.
  • Find a comfortable and private setting.
  • Conduct the focus group, serve food, and summarize.
  • Organize responses around major themes.
  • Prepare and disseminate the report.

The purpose of focus groups of mock jurists is to identify and apply information on characteristics

of potential jurists in order to effect positive trial strategy. What are some themes and

tactics that might best communicate the case to the jury (Moore, 1998)?

Mock trials are more elaborate in simulating a trial in all respects. This involves attorneys

(or actors) presenting both sides of their cases in a simulated courtroom setting which includes

the voir dire (jury selection), preliminary instructions, opening statements, direct and cross

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Chapter 4 • The Uniform Crime Reports and Sampling 117

examination of witnesses, presentation of evidence, and closing arguments. Deliberations are

videotaped, and post-verdict discussions take place in order to monitor the decision-making

process and discover which documents, evidence, or arguments were most persuasive. Such

activities can assist in predicting panel reaction to charges, defenses, and possible awards in civil

cases. Juror profiles for particular cases can also be developed, enabling the targeting of certain

demographic, personality, and attitudinal characteristics. In order to explore this topic further, visit

jury simulation consulting firms on the Internet by entering "jury simulations" as the search item

on a Web browser such as Excite, Yahoo, or Infoseek.

Figure 4.4 describes the use of focus groups to successfully guide jury selection in the

notorious Birmingham Church Bombing Trial, which in 2001 won convictions of a former

Ku Klux Klansman responsible for the attack.

Criminal profiling refers to attempts to construct typical characteristics of certain types of

criminals. Holmes (1989) used a purposive sample and talked to offenders, asking them questions

about their crimes, motivations, and crime scenes. This technique is used by researchers-for

example, by those in the FBI's Behavioral Research Unit-for forecasting purposes and to aid in

the investigation of certain types of criminals such as serial murderers. In a criminal profiling of

forty-one convicted serial rapists, 76 percent were found to have been sexually abused as children.

This same profile found that the majority of serial rapes had not been reported to authorities

(Hazelwood and Warren, 1989). Exhibit 4.3 describes the crime profiling process.

Although purposive samples are not probability samples, their usefulness is judged on the

basis of whether they work in predicting future behavior or attitudes of the target population, for

example, voting patterns and consumer behavior.

The following caveat was issued by Sheley and Wright (1993, p. 3) in their study of juvenile

possession of firearms by selecting purposive samples of 835 male serious offenders incarcerated

in six juvenile facilities in four states and 785 male students in ten inner-city high schools near

these facilities:

It should be stressed that these findings are technically not generalizable to other settings

and populations. The four states serving as research sites for this study were not

a probability sample of States. Moreover, to maximize percentages of respondents

In 2001, a Birmingham, Alabama, jury took only two hours to convict a former Klansman in

the 1963 church bombing. Thomas Blanton Jr. was sentenced to life in prison for the murder

of four black girls who died in the September 15, 1963, explosion at the Sixteenth Street

Baptist Church. Using jury consultants, prosecutors organized two focus groups and polled

500 residents of the Birmingham area. With defense lawyers and judges, they devised a

100-question survey that potential jurors completed at the beginning of the trial. Questions

related to attitudes toward interracial dating and the King holiday were used.

Much of the evidence against Blanton was circumstantial. The prosecution claimed that

they entered the evidentiary phase of the trial confident that they had selected a receptive jury.

The prosecution purported that it struck potential jurists due to their attitudes rather than race

and sex per se. The defense argued that the real intent of the prosecution had been to remove

white men, who had been struck based on racial lines. The judge ruled that the prosecution

had provided race-neutral reasons for its selection.

FIGURE 4.4 Research-Guided Jury Selection in the Birmingham Church Bombing Trial.

118 Chapter 4 • The Uniform Crime Reports and Sampling

Crime profiling (also called crime investigative

analysis) has been practiced on various levels in the

social sciences for years. Classic fictional detectives

such as Sherlock Holmes and Charlie Chan tried

their hand as did a host of profilers of figure such as

Hitler, the Boston Strangler, and the Mad Bomber. In

Profiling Violent Crimes (1996, p. 8), Ronald and

Stephen Holmes indicate that the profiler should

have three goals:

A complete profile provides the criminal

justice system with (a) a social and psychological

assessment of the offender, (b) a psychological

evaluation of the suspected offender's belongings,

and (c) suggestions for the most efficient

and effective way for police to go about interviewing

the suspect once he or she is

apprehended.

Douglas, et al. (1992, p. 310) define crime profiling as

involving seven steps:

Evaluation of the criminal act itself

Comprehensive evaluation of the specifics

of the crime scene(s)

Comprehensive analysis of the victim

Evaluation of preliminary police reports

Evaluation of the medical examiner's

autopsy protocol

Development of the profile with critical

offender characteristics

Investigative suggestions predicated on

construction of the profile

Components of the offender profile include (Federal

Bureau of Investigation, 1991):

age, sex, race

marital status/adjustment

level of intelligence

sexual adjustment and perversions

social adjustment

appearance and grooming

employment history/adjustment

emotional adjustment

work habits

location or residence in relation to crime scene

personality characteristics

evaluation and analysis of the criminal act

motive for the offense

lifestyle

prior criminal arrest history

sequence of events during the offense

mood of the offender before, during and after

the offense

The crime-profiling approach has been found

particularly useful in investigating arsons, bombings,

kidnaps, murders, child molestations, and serial

murders/rapes. In the profiling process, data is

collected and assessed, the situation reconstructed,

hypotheses formulated, profile developed and

tested, and results reported (Douglas and Burgess,

1986, p. 9). Beginning in the late 1970s, the FBI's

profiling program, housed in its Behavioral Sciences

Investigative Unit, has enjoyed a high-media profile

beginning with success in predictions related to the

Wayne Williams serial murder case in Atlanta in the

early 1980s. Based on interviews with over thirty

serial murderers in prison, the profilers predicted he

would be a black male, early- to mid-twenties, and a

police buff (he impersonated a police officer).

Profiling may not be entirely accepted by old

line investigators as illustrated in the case of criminologist

Bill Tafoya. In 1993, then FBI agent Tafoya

was assigned to the Unabomber investigation in San

Francisco. His profile, which was not accepted, was

uncanny and would most likely have led to an earlier

bust of Ted Kaczynski. Contrary to the prevailing

profile, Tafoya indicated the bomber was probably in

his early fifties (Kaczynski was fifty-three when

apprehended). He predicted the bomber would have a

graduate degree, maybe a Ph.D.; a background in the

"hard" sciences, perhaps engineering or math; and

was an antitechnology Luddite (Witkin, 1997).

Sources: Holmes, Ronald, and Stephen Holmes. Profiling

Violent Crimes. 2nd ed. Thousand Oaks, C.A.: Sage

Publications, 1996; Douglas, John, et al. Crime

Classification Manual. New York: Lexington Books, 1992;

and Miethe, Terance D., and Richard McCorkle. Crime

Profiles: The Anatomy of Dangerous Persons, Places,

and Situations. Los Angeles, C.A.: Roxbury, 1998.

EXHIBIT 4.3

Crime Profiling

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.

Chapter 4 • The Uniform Crime Reports and Sampling 119

involved in the behavior of interest, the study purposely focused on serious juvenile

offenders and on students from especially problematic inner-city schools. Therefore,

the six correctional facilities and ten high schools (and by virtue of the voluntary

nature of participation in the study, the respondents in those institutions) serving as

research sites were not probability samples of their respective universes.

Nonetheless, comparison of inmate respondents' profiles with those known

through studies of youth in similar institutions indicates that the present sample was

not dissimilar to samples of State maximum-security wards serving as subjects of

other studies. Moreover, a 1984 study of inner-city high school students' criminal

activity employed data collected from randomly selected high school students from

inner-city, high-crime neighborhoods in four cities and indicated age and race breakdowns

very similar to those found among the student respondents.

A large number of evaluation studies in criminal justice employ purposive sampling as illustrated

by the following. To assess the impact of determinate sentencing on institutional climate

and prison administration, Goodstein et al. (1984) studied three states that had recently implemented

determinate sentencing and purposely chose states that differed in the types of determinate

sentencing enacted. In an age cohort analysis of arrest rates, Greenberg and Larkin (1985)

chose twenty-five large cities for study on the basis of geographic representativeness. The detailed

planning in choosing a purposive sample can be illustrated in Jacob's (1984) study of ten city

governments' responses to crime from 1948 to 1978. The cities were chosen on the basis of fiscal

strength, type of city government, region, quality of urban life, possession of sufficient research

capabilities, accessibility (cooperativeness in the past) to research, availability of prior research,

and program initiativeness (had received federal grants in the past). Pate et al. (1986) studied fear

of crime in Houston and Newark, the former representing a new, growing city with low population

density and the latter a mature, high-population-density city with declining economic resources.

Toborg's (1981) choice of sites in her study of pretrial release practices in nine jurisdictions was

based on very practical reasons, which probably exist in most purposive samples: geographic

diversity, wide range of (release) types, accurate and accessible records, and a willingness of

agencies to cooperate with the study. Agency contacts and cooperation are essential in such studies

because, without such "hospitality," suspicion will very likely undermine the project.

Snowball Sampling. Snowball sampling is a type of strategy employed particularly in

exploratory studies of little-known or hard-to-obtain subjects (Goodman, 1969; Biernacki and

Waldorf, 1981). It basically entails obtaining a first subject and, on the basis of this subject, obtaining

an entrée and introduction to a second subject, then a third, and so forth. Gradually, as many subjects

as practicable are accumulated. Polsky (1967) employed this strategy in studying uncaught criminals,

as did Solomey (1979) in his study of undercover police. Alex (1969) also employed this strategy in

order to study black police officers in New York City. Such a sampling procedure may be the only

means of obtaining data on little-known or secretive subject matter. In order to study "The Social

Organization of Drug Use and Drug Dealing Among Urban Gangs," Fagan (1989) used a snowball

sample of gang member respondents. Initial subjects were recruited through neighborhood agencies,

and gang members who were recruited later were nominated by these first respondents. All participants

received payment for their cooperation in the form of caps, T-shirts, or coupons to music stores.

In contrasting a history of Asian gangs in San Francisco, Toy (1992) interviewed sixty-four

active gang members as well as nine respondents for historical purposes. Utilizing a snowball

sampling technique, subjects were initially recruited through neighborhood social service

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Research Methods in Criminal Justice and Criminology, Eighth Edition, by Frank E. Hagan. Published by Prentice Hall. Copyright © 2010 by Pearson Education, Inc.

120 Chapter 4 • The Uniform Crime Reports and Sampling

agencies and then asked to refer other gang members. Respondents were paid $50 and another

$40 for each successful referral.

In an Australian study, Dance (1991) utilized a snowball sample to study recreational

intravenous drug users. The author asked everyone she knew if they were familiar with any

intravenous drug users. After asking about fifty people, she met Roger, an intravenous drug

user with whom she developed a rapport. After he told his friends that she was trustworthy,

she was ultimately able to interview others.

The selection of the sample and instrument to be used for data collection is always governed

by time, cost, and staff available to collect and analyze the data. Unless selection probabilities can

be estimated, statistical inference to larger populations is hazardous. In the hands of skillful

researchers, however, and for specific research problems, nonprobability samples may be preferred.

Sample Size

There is no simple answer to the question: "What is an appropriate sample size to choose?"

It depends on a number of considerations, and there is no predetermined appropriate sample

size for all conditions. The choice of sample size can depend on the degree of accuracy

required, the funds available, the expected frequency (or rarity) of the characteristic to be

observed, and the anticipated subclassification of the variables. It's important to note that without

a representative sample, sample size becomes irrelevant. A small representative sample

would yield a better estimate of the population than a much larger sample.

The size of the sample is statistically determined by the size of the sampling error to be

tolerated rather than the total size of the population (Kish, 1965). The larger the sample size, the

smaller the sampling error or extent to which the sampling values can be expected to differ from

population values. Depending on available funds, researchers should attempt to obtain as large a

sample as is practical. Statistical tables for determination of sample sizes are available in standard

statistical texts. For instance, for the 95 percent probability that a sample will have less than

a plus or minus 5 percent error in estimating the population, a population of 500 would require a

sample of 217, a population of 1,000 needs a sample of 286, a population of 10,000 requires 370,

and a population over 100,000 must have a sample of roughly 400. Statistical Package for the

Social Sciences (SPSS) has sample power software to determine appropriate sample size (available

on the Internet at www.spss.com/samplepower/.

The sample size also depends on the expected frequency (or rarity) of the characteristic to

be observed in the population. For example, in the discussion of victim surveys in Chapter 6, it

will be indicated that a sample of 60,000 households is used for the National Crime Survey of the

entire U.S. population. A similar number was required for each city surveyed as part of the original

central city surveys. Why are such large samples required in victim surveys when similar

public opinion surveys are sometimes conducted with only a few hundred in the sample? The

reason is whereas nearly everyone has an opinion, victimization for a specific crime may be rare,

thus requiring a large sample in order to obtain a few cases.

Related to the last point is the fact that too small samples may provide too few cases for

analysis once the sample is subclassified. For example, if the study entailed comparison of three

race categories by ten different crime victimizations, some of the subclassifications (e.g., Asians

who have been burglarized) may yield too few cases for statistical analysis. In such cases, larger

samples are required than minimums expressed in statistical tables.

The reader is advised to examine statistical texts on sampling for more technical detail on

this subject (Kish, 1965; Bachman and Paternoster, 1997), as well as to consult journal articles

and examine sample sizes employed in similar studies.

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Chapter 4 • The Uniform Crime Reports and Sampling 121

Sampling involves scientifically selecting a microcosm of a larger population to which

one wishes to infer, usually at great savings in time and cost. There are two major types of

sampling: probability samples and nonprobability samples. In probability samples, which

consist of simple random, stratified, cluster, and systematic samples, an EPSEM is employed.

Each type has relative advantages or disadvantages over the others that must be considered prior

to the decision to employ one. Nonprobability samples do not make use of an EPSEM

procedure and thus make hazardous the employment of statistical techniques that assume this.

They also make problematic any generalization to the larger population from which the sample

was drawn. The major types of nonprobability samples are quota, accidental, purposive, and

snowball. Even though these do not employ EPSEM procedures, careful use of nonprobability

samples can be an effective tool in gaining information regarding larger populations. Because

of its increasing use as a data-gathering strategy in criminal justice, survey research is presented

in two chapters in this text. This chapter concentrated on sampling, mail questionnaires, and

questionnaire construction, as well as self-report surveys of crime. Chapter 6 will cover major

interviewing procedures.

Focus groups are purposively selected groups brought together to measure reactions to

some stimuli. Criminal profiling is an attempt to construct typical characteristics of certain types

of criminals.

Summary

Criminal-justice data gathering frequently requires

real-world strategies as well as the use of alternative

approaches, such as social surveys, participant

observation, case study/life history methods, and

unobtrusive measures. None of these methods is inherently

superior to the others, although their relative

strengths and weaknesses can be broken down with

respect to quantitative/qualitative strength, greater or

less control over rival factors, control over factors of

internal/external validity, and artificiality/naturalness

(see Figure 4.1). Each of these alternatives to experiments

is briefly discussed as a prelude to detailed

treatment in successive chapters.

The Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) is given

special treatment in this chapter so that it will not be

lost in our discussion of other studies using available

data or official statistics. Until recently, criminology

and criminal justice in the United States

have heavily relied on the UCR for research purposes.

Most popular presentations on crime rates in the

United States are usually taken uncritically from the

UCR without a full appreciation of the limitations

of these data. The UCR is published annually by the

FBI and represents not crimes committed, but

crimes reported to, and recorded by, the police.

In general, the further from the actual offense

commission, the poorer the official statistics are in

providing an accurate picture of crime. The participation

of local police departments in the UCR

reporting system has improved over the years, with

about 98 percent of the national population covered

by 1978. The original Crime Index consists of a

simple summated index of seven (arson, added in

1978, equals eight) crimes considered more serious,

most likely reported, and most frequently occurring.

The violent index offenses are murder and nonnegligent

manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery, and the

property index offenses are aggravated assault,

burglary, larceny-theft, auto theft, and arson. The

crime rate is the number of crimes per unit of population.

Investigators using the UCR for research

purposes should become familiar with its major

limitations which make it a particularly hazardous

statistic for comparing crime over time or measuring

actual crime commission.

In 1985, a blueprint for a redesigned UCR

program was developed, and by the early 1990s, it

had begun to be implemented. This program featured

a National Incident-Based Recording System

(NIBRS), which will eventually replace the traditional

UCR. This comprehensive system provides far

more detail than the previous summary-based one.

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122 Chapter 4 • The Uniform Crime Reports and Sampling

Key Concepts

Alternative data-gathering

strategies 97

Uniform Crime Reports

(UCR) 98

Index crimes 99

Crime rate 100

Factors affecting UCR 101

Hot spots 104

Limitations of the crime

index 102

Crime dip 103

UCR redesign 105

The National Incident-Based

Reporting System

(NIBRS) 105

Hierarchy rule 109

Violent crime index 99

Property crime index 99

Sampling 110

Sampling frame 110

Probability samples 111

Simple random sample 111

EPSEM 111

Stratified random sample 112

Proportionate stratified

sample 112

Disproportionate stratified

sample 113

Cluster sample 114

Systematic sample 114

Random start 114

Multistage sample 115

Quota sample 115

Accidental sample 115

Purposive sample 116

Focus groups 116

Mock trials 116

Criminal profiling 117

Snowball sample 119

Review Questions

1. What is the UCR? What are its major components?

What are the major components of the crime index?

The calculation of crime rate? What have been some

major identified shortcomings of the UCR?

2. Given the identified shortcomings of the UCR, read

and then discuss how features of the redesigned UCR

may eliminate some of these shortcomings.

3. Discuss the National Incident-Based Reporting System

(NIBRS). What are some of its principal features as

well as advantages over the traditional UCR?

4. What are some possible explanations for the crime

dip of the 1990s?

5. Discuss the various types of sampling and when it

would be most appropriate to use each one.

6. For what is weighting used in disproportionate stratified

sampling, and why would samples be disproportionately

drawn in the first place?

Useful Web Sites

The Welcome Gateways (Research Design) http://omni.

ac.uk/browse/mesh/C0035171L0035171.html

Preventing Crime: What Works, What Doesn't, What's

Promising www.ncjrs.org/works/wholedoc.htm

Campbell Collaboration www.campbellcollaboration.

org/fralibrary.html

A Social, Psychological, Educational, and Criminological

Trials Register www.ucl.ac.uk/spp/download/publications/

annexe5.pdf

Cybrary: The World's Criminal Justice Directory

http://talkjustice.com/cybrary.asp

Methods Reading List http://web.crim.ufl.edu/grad/

methods_readings.pdf

Randomized Experiments (A Tutorial) www.

socialresearchmethods.net/tutorial/beleu/rand.html

Research Designs (North Carolina State University)

www2.chass.ncsu.edu/garson/pa765/design.htm

Scientifically Based Research (ERIC Digest) www.

ericfacility.net/databasesERIC_Digests/ed474304.html

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128 Chapter 5 • Survey Research

3. ❏ Household member

4. ❏ Someone else

5. ❏ Police on scene

Some Problems: The use of the term "informed" is a potentially suggestive one. The possibility

may be ruled out that the police were on the scene or happened on-the-scene or

may have been called without the respondent being aware.

Question: 8a. What were the injuries you suffered, if any?

1. ❏ None-Skip to 10a.

2. ❏ Raped

3. ❏ Attempted rape

4. ❏ Knife or gunshot wounds

5. ❏ Broken bones or teeth knocked out

6. ❏ Internal injuries, knocked unconscious

7. ❏ Bruises, black eye, cuts, scratches, swelling

8. ❏ Other-Specify__________________________________________

b. Were you injured to the extent that you needed medical attention after the

attack?

1. ❏ No-Skip to 10a.

2. ❏ Yes.

c. Did you receive any treatment at a hospital?

1. ❏ No

2. ❏ Emergency room treatment only

3. ❏ Stayed overnight or longer

How many days?

Problems: Question 8b may be subject to varying interpretations. The interviewer training

manual defines "need" as actually securing aid from a trained medical professional.

However, to a respondent, "need" could be based on a conception of the seriousness of

the injury. Because the interviewer may not always provide the official interpretation of

"need," responses may reflect different interpretations of the meaning of the question.

Question 8a responses 2 ("Raped") and 3 ("Attempted rape") were to be interpreted as

determinants of physical injury, but attempted rape may involve only verbal threats.

That is, the inclusion of attempted physical injury may cause distortions in data on

physical injury.

Question 8c, in obtaining data on hospital care only, fails to identify other types

of medical care, professional or nonprofessional, or institutional or otherwise.

Question: 2. About what time did this (most recent) incident happen?

1. ❏ Don't know

2. ❏ During the day (6:00 A.M. to 6 P.M.)

3. ❏ 6:00 P.M. to midnight

4. ❏ Midnight to 6:00 A.M.

Problem: Noncomparable categories of time provide too broad a category for daytime,

which could be subdivided to 6:00 A.M. to noon and noon to 6:00 P.M.

Question: 11b. How old would you say the person (offender) was?

1. ❏ Under 12

2. ❏ 12-14

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Research Methods in Criminal Justice and Criminology, Eighth Edition, by Frank E. Hagan. Published by Prentice Hall. Copyright © 2010 by Pearson Education, Inc.

Chapter 5 • Survey Research 129

3. ❏ 15-17

4. ❏ 18-20

5. ❏ 21 or over

6. ❏ Don't know

Problem: Category 5, "21 or over," is too broad and should be subdivided.

In asking opinion questions, do not assume that the respondents have all the information

necessary to make a meaningful or informed decision. For instance, a researcher could ask, "Do

you support the current interpretation of the Miranda decision?" Perhaps 60 percent of the

respondents may say "yes"; however, not having asked the respondents if they had any idea what

the Miranda decision was, it may turn out that 90 percent of the subjects did not know what it

was and were too embarrassed to say so.

Some additional pointers include that the first several questions should be easy to understand,

important to the study's purpose, and engage the respondent's interest. Questions should be grouped

into logical order and new sections should feature an introduction so that participants can switch

mental gears (Narins, 1995, p. 8). Avoid too many skip questions; for example, "If the answer is

‘yes,' skip to 5; and if ‘none of the above,' skip to 6." This may be confusing to the respondent. If the

survey has multiple pages, a booklet format is recommended. Attempt to make self-administered

surveys easy to complete, with check boxes and lines easy to see and numbers to be circled far

enough apart. Begin the instrument with a short introduction explaining its purpose, topics to be covered,

how the results will be used, and any incentives for participation. Leave plenty of room for

open-ended questions but do not supply lines, as these may constrain any comments (ibid., p. 9).

Pretest

Although formulation of dummy tables and a variables list and adherence to general points discussed

so far will assist the researcher in the development of a potentially useful instrument, prior to

using the questionnaire with target respondents a pretest of the instrument is a must. A pretest is a

reconnaissance operation or exploratory testing of the instrument using subjects who are similar to

the group to be studied. The pretest subjects are asked to critique the instrument, pointing out confusions

or misunderstandings and perhaps suggesting more proper wording or issues to be explored.

ORGANIZATION OF THE QUESTIONNAIRE

The order of questions may influence the willingness of subjects to respond to the survey. A common

error in surveys is to begin with the demographic items such as age, sex, and race. Although

these questions are an important part of any survey, they are also routine and boring for most respondents.

Such questions are better asked later or even last in the instrument (see Schuman and Presser,

1981). A good rule of thumb is "first impressions last." A questionnaire is best begun with items that

arouse interest and gain the respondent's attention. The beginning of the survey is also not the

appropriate place for sensitive items; one would not ask a person he or she had just met extremely

personal questions. The following illustrates what not to ask in the beginning of questionnaires:

A Guaranteed Low-Response Questionnaire

What is your name?

How old are you?

What is your sex?

Pretest

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Research Methods in Criminal Justice and Criminology, Eighth Edition, by Frank E. Hagan. Published by Prentice Hall. Copyright © 2010 by Pearson Education, Inc.

130 Chapter 5 • Survey Research

How much money do you earn?

Do you cheat on your income tax?

How is your sex life?

When was the last time you committed a crime?

Perhaps for good measure one could throw in, "Do you still beat your spouse?" and "Do

you walk to work or carry your lunch?"

The questions should be arranged in a logical sequence that is readable, interesting, and

easy to respond to. In mail surveys, open-ended questions should be kept to a minimum (see

Schuman and Presser, 1996).

MAIL SURVEYS

Most readers of this book are probably already familiar with the properties of mail questionnaires

because participation in such surveys is becoming a common cultural phenomenon in

North America and other developed countries. The most common type of mail survey is the

self-administered, mail-back variety in which a stamped, addressed return envelope is enclosed.

The mail survey is a popular instrument for research because it promises, at a minimum

of time and expense, to deliver fairly wide coverage for a study. Perhaps this asset of the mail

questionnaire has made it the favorite instrument of a variety of organizations selling products,

soliciting opinions, collecting charitable donations, and those attempting to conduct

social, scientific, or criminal justice research. In the 1970s, a special conference of the

American Statistical Association addressed itself to the growing concern of nonresponse in

such surveys. It appeared as if the potential respondents were becoming overburdened. In the

mid-1960s, large private research organizations could expect roughly a 75 percent response

rate in mail surveys; by the mid-1970s, this figure had dropped to 60-65 percent. This is

assuming even a number of follow-up inquiries to solicit participation (American Statistical

Association, 1974).

In The Phantom Respondent, John Brehm (1993) notes some alarming trends about the

growing nonresponse problem in polls and surveys such as the National Election Studies

(NES), based at the University of Michigan and the General Social Survey (GSS) at the

University of Chicago. The former has been done every federal election year since 1954 and

the latter every year since 1972 (Morin, 1993). While the NES averaged nonresponse of less

than 10 percent in the 1950s, by the 1990s it had the same 20-30 percent nonresponse as the

GSS. The major media polls have 30 to 50 percent nonresponse (ibid.). A study of 141 articles

from leading managerial and behavioral science journals in 1975, 1985, and 1995 discovered

that the average response rate in academic surveys was 55.6 percent, actually 48.4 percent in

1995 (Baruch, 1999). The key question is whether the nonrespondents differ significantly

from respondents, and the answer is yes. Overrepresented in surveys are the elderly, blacks,

women, the poor, and the less educated. Men, young people, whites, and the wealthy are

underrepresented.

Those considering using mail surveys as their means of data collection should consider

the fact that they are competitors for the time of respondents who are becoming increasingly

more difficult to interest in participating. A prudent researcher should, prior to deciding to

employ mail surveys, carefully consider the relative advantages and disadvantages as well as

alternative data-gathering strategies that might make it unnecessary to collect new data. The

definitive source on mail survey and related survey research is the journal Public Opinion

Mail survey

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Chapter 5 • Survey Research 131

Quarterly, a publication of the American Public Opinion Association, an organization that sets

standards in the field and to which most reputable private research organizations belong. One

practice of such organizations, for instance, is a 5 percent verification check on surveyed subjects

to assure accuracy of data; that is, 5 percent of those already questioned are questioned

again to certify their responses.

Although the problems and prospects raised by a particular survey vary from study to

study, a presentation on general disadvantages and advantages of mail surveys may help one

decide whether it is the appropriate data-gathering method for a study.

ADVANTAGES OF MAIL SURVEYS

As previously suggested, one important attractive feature of mail surveys is that they afford

wide geographical and perhaps more representative samples at reasonable cost, effort, and

time.
Compared with the personal interview (discussed in Chapter 6), the mail survey requires

no field staff, thus eliminating transportation and other costs. By the same token, it eliminatesinterviewer bias effects

, because there are no interviewers. Mail surveys may tend to afford the

respondents greater privacy as well as an opportunity to think out their responses, leading to

more considered answers. This is particularly the case for a survey attempting to obtain detailed

information that may require checking records, files, historical documents, and the like. For

example, in a survey of presidents of professions related to rehabilitation, this author asked

questions such as the following:

Question: What was the average budget of your organization from 2000 through 2003?

(If it would be easier, you may wish to supply the information yearly.)

Average Income__________________________________________________

Average Expenditures _____________________________________________

Total Assets _____________________________________________________

Net Assets ______________________________________________________

Optional: 2000 2001 2002 2003

Question: On the next page are a series of events that are believed relevant by some writers

in the field to the history of the development of occupations and their professional associations.

Please supply estimates and answers.

COMMENTS

(FOR INSTANCE,

WHERE, IF

EVENT ESTIMATED DATE APPLICABLE?)

1. At what time did work in your field

emerge as a full-time occupation?

2. When was the first training school

established?

3. When was the first state licensing law

in your field established (if any)?

4. When was the first formal professional

"code of ethics" adopted?

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132 Chapter 5 • Survey Research

Obviously, such questions are most appropriately asked in a mail survey, which enables

the respondent to devote adequate time to look things up, rather than in an on-the-spot

interview.

DISADVANTAGES OF MAIL SURVEYS

The chief problem with many mail surveys is nonresponse. Inexperienced researchers without

sponsorship may be fortunate to obtain a 20 percent rate in first-wave mailings, that is, a

one-time-only survey without follow-up (Miller, 1991, p. 77). Even with fairly high rates of

return, the researcher is still faced with the problem of possible differences between respondents

and nonrespondents with respect to the issue being investigated. Other potential problems

may exist with respect to a lack of uniformity in response, slowness of response

to follow up attempts, the possibility that a number of respondents may misinterpret the

questions, and escalating costs if several follow-ups are required. Although these and other

problems create difficulties, they are by no means insurmountable, as demonstrated later in

this chapter. Still, these disadvantages must be seriously considered by the researcher and

addressed in some fashion by means of planning, prior to the first canvass.

WAYS OF ELIMINATING DISADVANTAGES IN MAIL SURVEYS

An entire arsenal of techniques is at the disposal of the clever researcher to attempt to outmaneuver

many of the problematic elements of the mail survey. The nonresponse problem can

be broken down into two groups: those who have yet to respond and those who refuse to

cooperate in the survey. It is standard practice in research, unlike encyclopedia sales, to honor

a potential subject's right to refuse to participate in a study. So long as this rate is small, less

than 1 percent for instance, it is an expected loss in surveys. Further pleas to the respondent to

participate, such as "We do hope you will reconsider," stretch a delicate boundary and may be

conceived as harassment on the part of the respondent. If high refusal rates are expected, a far

better strategy is oversampling to create a replacement pool. Although this introduces some

potential error in that the replacement subjects may not match the subjects they replace, at

least the study can continue with a filled sampling frame. The researcher must acknowledge

this potential source of error.

Some ways of increasing responses in mail surveys include, but are not limited to, the

following:

Follow-up

Offering remuneration

Altruistic appeals

Use of attractive format

Sponsorship

Endorsements

Personalization

Shortened format

Good timing

Ways of

increasing

responses in

mail surveys

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Chapter 5 • Survey Research 133

Follow-up

The use of techniques to increase response in surveys is limited only by the imagination and

perhaps the time and finances of the researcher. Of major importance in most surveys is the

follow-up with respondents. Continued efforts to solicit response may include renewed mailing(

s) of the original questionnaire, mailings of shortened versions of the instrument, postcards,

telephone calls, interviews, telegrams, mailgrams, and their combinations (Heberlein and

Baumgartner, 1978). Some researchers mail a "reminder/thank you" postcard three days after

the initial mailing to encourage response. An interesting procedure sometimes followed is

enclosure of an identifying postcard with an anonymous survey form so that the respondents

can, at the time they return the form, register that they have responded and should not receive

further reminders (Dillman, 1972, 1976). In general, special delivery and certified delivery are

superior to first-class mail which, in return, is superior to second- and third-class mail. Certified

mail can yield a return receipt verifying delivery. If first-class letters are marked "address correction

requested," postal authorities will notify the sender of the filed forwarding address to

which the letter has been redirected.

A common practice for determining proper timing for the follow-up is illustrated by a

hypothetical study (Figure 5.2).

Beginning on June 1, 1,000 residents of Millvale were mailed questionnaires. Returns

began to arrive on June 4. The daily number of returns peaked on June 16. By June 23, the

replies, encouraged by the second mailing (or first follow-up), began to arrive and peaked around

July 15. At that time, a second follow-up was undertaken, the results of which tailed off in late

August, when a third request was mailed to respondents. The third follow-up had little impact on

encouraging more responses and, because the end of the targeted period for data gathering was

nearing, no further follow-up probes were assumed necessary.

Offering Remuneration

Offering remuneration involves offering rewards or incentives to survey participants. It may,

depending on subject and type of respondents, increase response. Some researchers actually

enclose, rather than just promise, payment on the assumption that people will feel guilty about

keeping the money and not answering the survey. A variation of inducement is the offer to share

300

250

200

150

100

50

June

a

b c

d

July Aug. Sept. Oct. Nov. Dec. Jan.

a First mailing

b Second mailing

c Third mailing

d Fourth mailing

FIGURE 5.2 Millvale Victimization Survey.

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134 Chapter 5 • Survey Research

a summary or copy of the report with interested respondents. A word of caution-financial

offerings may be out of order with some subjects; for example, a one-dollar offer might insult

wealthy or influential subjects, or an offer of coupons for free chocolate bars would be in poor

taste in a survey dealing with hunger and starvation. In the latter instance, altruistic appeals to

the respondents' concern for science and humanity would be more effective.

Church (1993) analyzed thirty-eight studies on the impact of incentives in mail surveys

and found that prepaid incentives were more effective than promised ones. Other findings were

that prepaid monetary incentives were better than gifts offered with the initial mailing, response

rates increase with larger amounts of money, and promises of money or gifts do not significantly

increase response rates. Singer et al. (1999), in a replication of Church, found that the effects of

incentives were only modest.

Attractive Format

An attractive format for the instrument may impress on the respondent the important nature

of the study. Although cost limitations may determine the ultimate appearance of a questionnaire,

a ditto reproduction is less desirable than a mimeograph, which again is inferior to a

lithograph or a good print job. Other possibilities include colored paper and print,

photographs, illustrations, and booklets. Anything that can attract interest in the survey may

enhance response.

Sponsorship and Endorsements

Sponsorship and endorsements are excellent means of enhancing the potential prestige and legitimacy

of the survey in the eyes of respondents. Generally, the greater the public visibility and

reputation of the organization sponsoring or conducting the survey, the greater the potential

response. Unattached researchers or students generally can expect poorer response than known

persons or organizations in the field. For students, letters from professors bearing the college

insignia and urging response would be more effective than the student's own cover letter.

Endorsement cover letters from prominent individuals, for example, presidents of national organizations

of which the respondents are members, may increase response. A survey of police officers

may yield better response if the questionnaire is accompanied by letters urging response

from the Chief of Police and the president of the local Fraternal Order of Police.

In a mail survey of the 100 largest police departments in the United States regarding

police undercover practices, Hamilton and Smykla (1994) were able to achieve an 87 percent

response rate. This high response may have been achieved in part due to the fact that the

cover letter came from the New York Attorney General's Office and one of the authors was a

known practitioner in the law enforcement community.

Personalization

Personalization of survey instruments is the attempt to make less impersonal the appearance of

the survey package or follow-up probes. Because all good mail surveys should contain

stamped, addressed return envelopes, some feel the attachment of colorful commemorative

stamps to the envelopes adds more personalization than bureaucratic and impersonal postage

meters. Better yet, commemorative stamps that deal with topics related to the subject matter of

the survey may call additional attention to the survey. A criminal justice survey featuring a

stamp with Justitia, the blind goddess of justice, would certainly be eye-catching. More

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Chapter 5 • Survey Research 135

research needs to be undertaken in this regard, however, for Heberlein and Baumgartner

(1978) found the highest response rates for government-sponsored studies in which a franked

or metered postage was used. This was believed to lend an "official" air to the project.

A handwritten "P.S." on the cover letter urging response has been claimed to increase

response, as does personalization of the cover letter by use of the respondent's name (Dillman

and Frey, 1974). In one survey of presidents of national professional associations, this writer

stumbled upon a gimmick which, although prohibitive in larger surveys, ensured a last-resort

response from a few remaining important respondents. After four unsuccessful follow-up probes

that included requesting professionals from these fields to look them up at national conventions

and urge response, a personal touch worked. A visit to a local museum of art yielded some occasional

cards that featured a colorful reproduction of a famous masterpiece. Through sheer luck,

the campus post office was selling commemorative stamps with famous paintings, one of which

matched the cards. The combined visual impact, along with a handwritten final request for

participation on the card, elicited cooperation (Hagan, 1975).

Shortened Format

Shortened format of follow-up instruments may encourage response from those who were previously

hesitant because of the length of the original instrument. Although a "reminder/thank you"

postcard sent a few days after an initial mailing is likely to result in a higher response rate, a lastresort

postcard featuring the minimum essential questions will at least salvage information on

key items, as well as give some reading of how a group that would have been nonrespondents

differs from respondents. In a review of the literature on methods of improving response rates in

mail surveys, Heberlein and Baumgartner (1978) claim that longer survey forms were perceived

as more important than shorter forms, and, all, other things being equal, were associated with

greater response.

Good Timing

Good timing for survey mailing includes avoiding competitive seasons or other historical events

that may impede response. Vacation periods should be avoided. Household questionnaires

should arrive near the end of the week, whereas business surveys are likely to fare better at the

beginning of the week. Other gimmicks have been developed by imaginative researchers. Again,

The Public Opinion Quarterly is an excellent source of such "trade secrets."

Despite valiant efforts, because of time, cost, and other factors, most surveys do not expect

100 percent response rates. One way to assess the impact of nonresponse bias on results is

to compare characteristics of the survey respondents with known characteristics of the general

population. For instance, even though we may have a 60 percent response rate and no way of

knowing for sure how the 40 percent nonrespondents differ from those cooperating in the survey,

knowledge that the respondents were representative of the population with respect to age, sex,

race, income, and other key characteristics may give us greater confidence in these findings. In a

survey of victims in which only 125 of 450 questionnaires were returned and the prosecutor's

office prohibited follow-up mailings to victims, the researchers (Erez and Tontodonato, 1992)

assessed the representativeness of the sample by comparing respondents with nonrespondents,

finding that the former were more serious cases but were similar on other relevant variables.

In an imaginative combination of research strategies Sigler and Johnson (1986), studying

a sample of the general population of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, first sent a postcard to households

indicating that they had been selected for study. Three days later, Johnson personally

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C H A P T E R

5 Survey Research

Questionnaires

Survey Research

Some Guidelines for Questionnaire

Construction

Questionnaire Wording

Pretest

Organization of the Questionnaire

Mail Surveys

Advantages of Mail Surveys

Disadvantages of Mail Surveys

Ways of Eliminating Disadvantages

in Mail Surveys

Follow-up

Offering Remuneration

Attractive Format

Sponsorship and Endorsements

Personalization

Shortened Format

Good Timing

The Tailored Design Method

Self-Reported Measures of Crime

Some Problems with Self-Report Surveys

Strengths of Self-Report Surveys

Reliability

Validity

Use of Other Data

Use of Other Observers

Use of Polygraph

Known-Group Validation

Use of Lie Scales

Measures of Internal Consistency

Use of Interviews

Internet Surveys

Advantages of Internet Surveys

Disadvantages of Internet Surveys

Procedures in Internet Surveys

Summary

Key Concepts

Review Questions

Useful Web Sites

SURVEY RESEARCH

Survey research, an area that is emerging as a strength in criminal justice research, is an excellent

tool for primary data gathering.

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124 Chapter 5 • Survey Research

In Indiana, legislative hearings dealing with the death penalty for juveniles ended with the

following statement (Hamm, 1989, p. 224):

We have debated capital punishment for juveniles today and have come to various

conclusions. Yet one thing we know for sure. Never fill out a questionnaire from a

criminologist again.

Criminologist Mark Hamm was told this by both the press and other persons associated

with the legislature. He was also told that his research "struck too close to the bone." Beginning

in the fall of 1986, he received survey responses from eighty-five legislators (85 percent of

the General Assembly). He was relatively certain that many of the legislators had filled out the

survey themselves rather than relegating it to their staffs because, he said, (ibid., p. 223):

n my testimony on the juvenile death penalty before the Indiana General Assembly,

a number of legislators indicated a familiarity with the substantive content of the

survey. Indeed the survey became a heated topic of debate during these proceedings.

My testimony-one among some thirty given before the General Assembly-was the

only one terminated by the Legislature. It was cut short on the grounds that it was

inappropriate to discuss statistical reasons why some legislators might favor the

execution of juveniles and why others might not.

The fact that, as in this example, participants in a legislative hearing were threatened by the

results of a survey certainly illustrates the power and potential usefulness of such an instrument.

In this chapter, we examine mail questionnaire and self-report studies whose features

successfully illustrate many of the opportunities and pitfalls of survey methods. Other major

data-gathering approaches, such as interviews, victim surveys, and telephone surveys, will be

the subject of Chapter 6.

Surveys have often been misunderstood by some researchers who have been socialized in the

experimental tradition. Many times, hostility appears between some theoreticians and practitioners

with respect to the strong emphasis placed on the experimental tradition as an ideal in social science

research. Part of this methodological argument may result from a lack of full appreciation of the

nature of survey research methods and their potential as tools in investigating many important questions

facing the criminal justice system. The notion of a survey connotes images of a poll or simple

tally (count of opinion), but survey research has many purposes and can address many scientific

problems beyond a simple count of opinion. Descriptive survey research may use statistical

probability theory to assess sampling error. (Is what is true of the sample true of the population?)

Analytic survey research attempts to explore questions of cause and effect similar to traditional

experimental research. The experimenter utilizes research design before the fact to remove the

effects of rival causal factors, whereas the survey researcher tries to remove these rival factors after

the fact (after the data have been collected) through the use of statistical analysis.

A basic quality of survey research that is at times forgotten and is responsible for much

potential error in interpretation of findings is that in most instances surveys record either

expressed attitude or claimed behavior and seldom the behavior itself. In Chapter 7, we will detail

potential errors in surveys in which the full importance of this statement will be explained, but at

this stage, acceptance of this point as an article of faith will suffice. Previously, we indicated that

surveys are not just useful for political and consumer polls but are also effective means of addressing

scientific questions and the causality problem. Rather than control for rival causal factors

prior to the fact by means of research design, surveys generally employ quantitative methods and

Descriptive

survey

research

Analytic

survey

research

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Chapter 5 • Survey Research 125

statistical procedures post hoc to control for extraneous variables and sources of invalidity,

because natural field settings make the control of sources of invalidity more problematic.

Survey research may employ a variety of data-gathering methods ranging from the administration

of structured questionnaires to captive audiences (such as all sections of Introduction to

American Criminal Justice at a college or university), to mail questionnaires, field interviews,

telephone surveys, and their variations. In this chapter, we concentrate on the mail questionnaire. It is

widely used and offers the possibility to discuss many issues that occur in the other types of survey

approaches. We will first examine some guidelines for questionnaire construction.

SOME GUIDELINES FOR QUESTIONNAIRE CONSTRUCTION

Although it would be foolish for anyone to claim that there is only one way of constructing an

effective questionnaire, a number of procedures have been established by practitioners through

trial and error and custom.

The most crucial and most underestimated step in questionnaire construction involves

clearly formulating the research problem and the data required to speak directly to the research

problem. A common method of specifying the relationship between research issues and data is

creation of a variables list which is keyed to questionnaire items and dummy tables.

A variables list is constructed after the initial rough draft of the questionnaire. The

concepts or variables to be measured are listed along with the numbers of the questions that

purport to measure them. By rigorously reviewing a questionnaire in this manner, duplicative

items, unmeasured concepts, or an emphasis that is undesirable may be discovered.

Dummy tables are preliminary blank tables constructed prior to data gathering that suggest

the type of data needed, as well as the type of data analysis. Figure 5.1 illustrates the use of a

dummy table to call attention to data that will be needed for a two-variable cross-tabulation.

Assuming that such a tabular analysis is planned, the researcher is now alerted to the need to

check the data-gathering instrument to see if the questions for these two variables have been asked

in a manner that would render itself to the type of categorization in the dummy table. The real

utility of a dummy table is realized when the researcher discovers that he or she has failed to ask a

question necessary to the study. Although variables lists and dummy tables may strike those

anxious to get on with a study as ritualism, they act to ensure that the data needed are obtained

before the fact, rather than after the fact when it may be too late. A basic maxim of research is no

more data should be gathered than needed; however, blind application of this dictum is myopic. A

study should be viewed as a research opportunity, one in which the basic needs of the present

research enterprise as well as "riders" (related research questions that may be analyzed once the

main project is completed) are present. For instance, in the course of a federally funded project on

attrition among rehabilitation counselors, data gathered on professionalism can later be analyzed to

address the issue of professional developments in the field (Hagan, Haug, and Sussman, 1975).

Variables list

Dummy tables

Under

20

Over

20s 69

Victim of Serious Yes

Crime (1980)

No

30s 40s

Age

50s 60s

FIGURE 5.1 A Dummy Table for the Relationship between Victimization and Age.

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126 Chapter 5 • Survey Research

Questionnaire Wording

Sudman and Bradburn's Asking Questions (1982) is a gold mine of suggestions on questionnaire

wording and construction. They caution you to resist writing questions until you have carefully

thought through the research questions or problems. It is also quite useful to collect and borrow

successful questions from other researchers. This may even enable the comparison of questions

across studies (ibid., p. 14).

The language used in questionnaires must be geared to the target population. If the

study group is a specialized one, for example, forensic pathologists, then the use of occupational

argot and technical language would be preferred. In fact, pretests of the instrument with

members of this occupation may suggest appropriate terminology. On the other hand, if the

general population is to be surveyed, a more common language should be used. If the target

group includes significant non-English-speaking populations, it may be necessary to employ

bilingual strategies such as dual-language instruments. Faculty of foreign language departments

at local colleges often prove to be invaluable consultants in this regard. Similarity of

respondent understanding of language is particularly problematic in crosscultural research.

Anyone with exposure to foreign languages realizes that certain ideas, idioms, and jargon are

not readily translated into another language. The same holds true across cultures with similar

languages. Asking if a person has ever been mugged may puzzle others who may confuse the

term with kissing or being served a drink.

Care must also be taken to identify clearly who should answer the questions, for example,

head of the household or any adult member of the household. This writer was once the subject of

a shopping mall marketing survey and, as part of an apparent quota sample, was asked his opinions

regarding some sample cereal box covers. The covers featured pictures of sports figures and,

after the completion of a fairly long interview, my wife asked me when I last purchased cereal.

One could just imagine supermarkets loaded with cereal boxes picturing hockey players while

consumers purchase those featuring smiling children.

Some of the following suggestions on questionnaire wording and construction are not intended

to be either exhaustive or mutually exclusive:

  • Avoid biased or leading questions. The classic example is, "Do you still beat your

spouse?" No matter how respondents answer that question, they are admitting spousal

abuse.

  • Avoid double-barreled questions. Such questions ask two questions in one. Do not ask

something like, "Do you walk to work or carry your lunch?"

  • Avoid asking questions in an objectionable manner. "Did you exercise your duty as a

citizen and report this incident to the police?" Respondents would feel unpatriotic if they

answered no.

  • Avoid assuming prior information on the part of the respondent. One might ask, "Do you

support the Miranda decision?"-only to discover too late that half of the respondents

thought Miranda was a shortstop with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

  • Avoid vague wording. Use language with as much common meaning as possible.
  • Avoid asking more than you need to know. This merely adds unnecessary length to the

instrument.

  • Avoid "response set" patterns by using reversal questions. Do not word all questions

so that a positive or negative answer is the most desirable; otherwise, respondents may

answer the first few and then check off the remainder in a similar fashion without even

reading them.

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Chapter 5 • Survey Research 127

Barton (1958, p. 67) provides humorous examples of many of the techniques that have

been used as a means of asking threatening questions (cited in Sudman and Bradburn, 1982,

pp. 54-55). In this case, we want to ask, "Did you kill your wife?"

  • The Casual Approach: "Do you happen to have murdered your wife?"
  • The Numbered Card: "Would you please read off the number on this card which corresponds

to what became of your wife?" (Hand card to respondent.)

1. Natural death

2. I killed her.

3. Other (What?) (Get the card back from respondent before proceeding.)

  • The Everybody Approach: "As you know, many people have been killing their wives these

days. Do you happened to have killed yours?"

  • The "Other People" Approach:

a. "Do you know any people who have murdered their wives?"

b. "How about yourself?"

  • The Sealed Ballot Technique: In this version, you explain that the survey respects people's

rights to anonymity in respect to their marital relations and that they themselves are to fill

out the answer to the question, seal it in an envelope, and drop it in a box conspicuously

labeled, "Sealed Ballot Box" which is carried by the interviewer.

  • The Kinsey Technique: Stare firmly into respondent's eyes and ask in simple, clear-cut

language, such as that to which the respondent is accustomed, and with an air of assuming

everyone has done everything, "Did you ever kill your wife?" Put the question at the

end of the interview. This "everybody does it approach" developed by Kinsey is called

counterbiasing, which means asking the question in such a way that the behavior appears

relatively frequent and normal.

Although Barton's wife-killing example involves a preposterous topic, the techniques used

to ask threatening questions are quite common and useful in survey research.

Researchers must also decide whether open-ended (unstructured) or closed-ended (structured)

questions will yield the necessary information:

Open: Some people feel that certain parts of the criminal justice system do not work.

Do you agree? If so, what parts?

Closed: Some people feel that certain parts of the criminal justice system do not work. Is this

belief _______ True, _______ False, _______ Don't Know. If true, what parts?

_______ Police, Courts, _______ Corrections, _______ Other Specify ___________________________________________________

Although open-ended questions may provide greater detail and permit respondents to express

their attitudes in-depth, such responses pose difficulty as we will see in our discussion of coding in

Chapter 11. Closed-ended (structured) questions, although they ease the coding process and are

easier for respondents, may not give respondents an opportunity to explain fully their views.

To illustrate some question ambiguity in professionally designed surveys, the following

illustrations were drawn from the presentation on analytical issues in victim surveys by the

Crime Statistics Analysis Staff to the Panel for the Evaluation of Crime Surveys (Panel for the

Evaluation of Crime Surveys, 1976, pp. 167-176):

Question: Were the police informed of this incident in any way?

1. ❏ No

2. ❏ Don't Know-Skip to Check Item G.

Yes-Who told them?

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128 Chapter 5 • Survey Research

3. ❏ Household member

4. ❏ Someone else

5. ❏ Police on scene

Some Problems: The use of the term "informed" is a potentially suggestive one. The possibility

may be ruled out that the police were on the scene or happened on-the-scene or

may have been called without the respondent being aware.

Question: 8a. What were the injuries you suffered, if any?

1. ❏ None-Skip to 10a.

2. ❏ Raped

3. ❏ Attempted rape

4. ❏ Knife or gunshot wounds

5. ❏ Broken bones or teeth knocked out

6. ❏ Internal injuries, knocked unconscious

7. ❏ Bruises, black eye, cuts, scratches, swelling

8. ❏ Other-Specify__________________________________________

b. Were you injured to the extent that you needed medical attention after the

attack?

1. ❏ No-Skip to 10a.

2. ❏ Yes.

c. Did you receive any treatment at a hospital?

1. ❏ No

2. ❏ Emergency room treatment only

3. ❏ Stayed overnight or longer

How many days?

Problems: Question 8b may be subject to varying interpretations. The interviewer training

manual defines "need" as actually securing aid from a trained medical professional.

However, to a respondent, "need" could be based on a conception of the seriousness of

the injury. Because the interviewer may not always provide the official interpretation of

"need," responses may reflect different interpretations of the meaning of the question.

Question 8a responses 2 ("Raped") and 3 ("Attempted rape") were to be interpreted as

determinants of physical injury, but attempted rape may involve only verbal threats.

That is, the inclusion of attempted physical injury may cause distortions in data on

physical injury.

Question 8c, in obtaining data on hospital care only, fails to identify other types

of medical care, professional or nonprofessional, or institutional or otherwise.

Question: 2. About what time did this (most recent) incident happen?

1. ❏ Don't know

2. ❏ During the day (6:00 A.M. to 6 P.M.)

3. ❏ 6:00 P.M. to midnight

4. ❏ Midnight to 6:00 A.M.

Problem: Noncomparable categories of time provide too broad a category for daytime,

which could be subdivided to 6:00 A.M. to noon and noon to 6:00 P.M.

Question: 11b. How old would you say the person (offender) was?

1. ❏ Under 12

2. ❏ 12-14

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SOME PROBLEMS WITH SELF-REPORT SURVEYS

Nettler (1978, p. 107) states the matter succinctly by pointing out that "asking people questions

about their behavior is a poor way of observing it." In specifying difficulties in the accuracy of

self-reports on other types of behavior such as voting and medical treatment (LaPiere, 1934;

Deutscher, 1966; Levine, 1976), critics wonder why we should expect respondents to be accurate

and honest in admitting deviant behavior. The major problems with self-report surveys relate

to inaccurate reporting, use of poor or inconsistent instruments, deficient research designs, and

poor choice of settings or subjects (Nettler, 1978, p. 107).

American studies of self-reported crime include items that may not be regarded as

delinquent.

The often small and nonrepresentative nature of some of the samples used may limit their

generalizability. Many samples, for example, had poor representation of blacks. In addition to

possible difficulties presented by the lack of complete anonymity in some surveys, self-report

studies may be subject to lying, poor memory, and telescoping, or the moving of past incidents

into the time frame being studied. Many studies fail to provide a time reference during which the

claimed offenses were to have taken place.

Until recently, self-report surveys have been plagued by lack of replication and overreliance

on one-shot case studies often of atypical populations. Bersoff and Bersoff (2000)

claim that the risks to respondents in self-report surveys of having far more personal information

unprotected is greater than in observational or experimental studies. Such anonymous

surveys requiring neither Institutional Review Board (IRB) review nor informed consent may

invade privacy and cause emotional upset by probing into painful experiences.

STRENGTHS OF SELF-REPORT SURVEYS

Despite the preceding criticisms, an impressive body of research has accumulated that highlights

the strengths of self-report surveys. Both the validity and the reliability of this method and

utilization of the method have steadily improved. Junger-Tas and Marshall (1999) indicate that

the self-report method has improved greatly over the years and that many of its problems and

limitations have been addressed.

Reliability

In examining the reliability of self-report surveys, Hirschi (1969, p. 56) found only moderate

correlations in admissions of the six kinds of crimes he measured. Clark and Tifft

(1966) found about an 82 percent reliability for subjects who were retested regarding selfadmissions

when they were threatened with a lie detector the second time. Dentler and

Monroe (1961) found a 96 percent concordance between first and second self-reporters, and

Kulik et al. (1968) found a 98 percent agreement with little difference if the questionnaire is

anonymous or signed.

Contrary evidence is provided by Farrington (1973). He had English boys respond to

thirty-eight crimes listed on separate cards and place them into piles as to whether they did

or did not commit these acts. On retest two years later, only 75 percent of the original

crimes were readmitted and half of these were more serious crimes. Gertz and Talarico

(1980) point out important and often overlooked sources of unreliability-clerical carelessness

and coding error.

Chapter 5 • Survey Research 139

140 Chapter 5 • Survey Research

Validity

The validity of self-report surveys rests on whether people tell the truth or can accurately recollect

past crimes or incidents of deviant behavior. Some means of attempting to get at the validity

of such surveys are:

Validity checks using official or other data

Checks using other observers (peers)

Use or threat of polygraph

"Known group" approach

"Lie scales"

Measures of internal consistency

Recheck reports using interviews

Use of Other Data

Self-report data can sometimes be checked against official police records, school records, and

other sources or criteria. There is a paradox of the critics of official statistics using these same

statistics to validate what is claimed to be a superior self-report instrument. Given our previous

discussion of problems with official statistics, it is unclear what type of overall relationship

would be desired.

A significant number of studies have been conducted employing checks against official

statistics. Some of these have been discussed in part in our previous analysis of self-report

surveys. In interviews with boys in Utah, Erickson and Empey (1963) found that a check of court

records indicated that none of the boys lied about having been in court or failed to describe the

offense. Voss (1963) found a strong relationship between admissions and official police records

in his Hawaiian sample. Farrington (1973) also found agreement, concluding that self-reported

delinquents were quite similar to official delinquents. Hirschi (1969) had mixed feelings, with

general underreporting among his sample. McCandless et al. (1972) found even a poorer

matchup between admissions and police records. On the other hand, Hardt and Hardt (1977)

found a strong correspondence between self-reported violations and police statistics; based

on this correspondence as well as other checks they made on their data, they concluded that

many of the conflicting reports in previous surveys may have resulted from the use of inadequate

instruments. Hirschi (1969) also checked other records such as truancy reports and admitted

school suspensions.

Use of Other Observers

Checks using other informants, peers, or people who might be able to speak to the respondents'

behavior constitute yet another way of obtaining some validation. Gold (1966) interviewed associates

of the respondent to check whether the person was either told about or observed the acts claimed

by the respondent. Short and Strodtbeck (1965) used confirming reports of detached workers.

Use of Polygraph

The use of, or threat of, polygraph validation was employed by Clark and Tifft (1966). They found

less than 20 percent changed their initial responses when threatened with a "lie detector" test.

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Known-group

validation

Lie scales

Known-Group Validation

In known-group validation (Nye and Short, 1957; Voss, 1963), groups whose official transgressions

are already a matter of record are studied and their self-admissions are compared to this same

behavior. Hardt and Hardt (1977) used, as part of their sample, those who had been previously identified

through official arrest statistics. They concluded that such groups yielded valid responses. Nye

and Short, as well as Voss, found significant differences between "known delinquents" and others.

Nettler points out that there is an essential problem in attempting to validate an instrument with a

criterion, in this case official statistics, which itself is of questionable validity. As a possible explanation,

Hardt and Hardt (1977) found that the majority of boys ranking high on the self-report scale did

not have an official police record. Comparing initial with later responses, however, they found that

most respondents changed something, and most of these changes were in the direction of admitting

more deviance. Although minor offenses like truancy and stealing tended to be underreported, major

offenses like violence and sex offenses were overreported.

Use of Lie Scales

Another useful tool for checking the validity of responses is the employment of lie scales or

"truth scales," a series of questions that measure truthfulness of respondents in answering a

survey. Previously, we discussed the tendency of respondents in experiments and surveys to be

agreeable or to give the researcher what they think is desired. "Lie scales" attempt to assess this,

usually by asking the respondents to admit to a type of behavior that-it is assumed-no one

person would have performed or by trying to crossup the respondents by having them give inconsistent

responses. Some other procedures involve having the respondent deny behavior that-it is

reasonably assumed-everyone would perform. Such questions are usually weaved among other

attitudinal questions in the survey. Figure 5.3 gives typical "lie scales."

In scoring "lie scales," researchers set a limit for the number of "incorrect" answers to

questions they are willing to tolerate before questioning the truthfulness of the respondent and

thus calling into question all other responses of that individual. These cases would be dropped

from the analysis. Such procedures are quite commonly used in standard personality inventories

such as the Minnesota Multiphasic Inventory.

Measures of Internal Consistency

Related to "lie scales" is the measurement of the internal consistency of an individual's response by

using interlocking items. This involves the repetition of similar items, sometimes expressing them

first in a positive and then in a negative manner. For example, one might say, "I always tell the truth,"

and then later in the survey say, "I never tell a lie." Hardt and Hardt (1977) in their self-report survey

Internal

consistency

FIGURE 5.3 Examples of a Lie Scale.

1. I always tell the truth.

2. Sometimes I tell lies.

3. Once in a while I get angry.

4. I never feel sad.

5. Sometimes I do things I am not supposed to do.

6. I have never taken anything that did not belong to me.

7. I have never kept anyone waiting for an appointment.

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142 Chapter 5 • Survey Research

asked first whether the respondent had ever been warned or questioned by police and later whether

the subject had ever been arrested or ticketed by the police. It was assumed that a positive response

to the latter would require a positive answer to the former question; if not, the subject's responses

were considered inconsistent. In combination with the "lie scale," this measure of inconsistency was

used as the means of discarding questionable respondents. The use of reversals, stating some of the

questions in a negative manner, is a means of checking response sets. The latter refers to the tendency

of subjects to answer all of the items, often without reading many of them, on the basis of their

answers to the initial questions. That is, if the respondents strongly agreed with the first few items,

then they might simply check off this same response for the remainder. This is also a partial check on

socially desirable response patterns.

Use of Interviews

Subsequent interviewing of subjects permits probing regarding the details and context of the

acts. For example, claims of the respondent can be questioned, and the criminal intent of the acts

can be established (Hood and Sparks, 1971, p. 68). Primary disadvantages of this approach are

that anonymity of subjects is lost (Gold, 1966) and there may be a tendency for concealment of

offenses depending on the characteristics of the interviewer (Coleman, 1961, pp. 16-17).

Although self-report surveys have their limitations, they do provide another measure of

criminality in addition to official statistics. Particularly when combined with victim surveys, they

offer another means of assessing unreported crime. Chilton (1993, pp. 6-7) even suggests that it

might be time for criminologists to propose the creation of a National Self-Report Survey. Such

a representative survey would most likely face serious political and methodological problems but

would certainly give us a broader picture of crime. Requests for such serious data are almost

certain to be "inconvenient for someone's party position on crime and its causes" (ibid., p. 8).

INTERNET SURVEYS

The use of the Internet to conduct surveys is a relatively new and quickly evolving approach.

Changes are taking place so rapidly that what is presented here is only a brief introduction.

Internet surveys take two different forms: e-mail surveys and Web-based surveys; but the

potential is enormous for camera-based, face-to-face interviews, chat groups, and inexpensive

telephone surveys using the Internet.

Advantages of Internet Surveys

The potential advantages of Internet surveys are compelling. If research is limited to specialized

populations (e.g., employees or association members), theoretical access of 100 percent is possible.

Internet surveys can be done faster and cheaper when compared to telephone surveys. In fact, they

are free and many surveys can be undertaken at the same time, which is an advantage over the latter,

particularly with large samples which are ordinarily limited by the number of telephones and

interviewers (Schaefer and Dillman, 1998, p. 379). A mixed-mode strategy of using e-mail when

possible and other methods when not possible has been found to be effective. Web surveys

are much cheaper and more accurate than paper and pencil surveys, and data processing is much

faster and cheaper (ibid.). Results can be published online instantly for viewing by the respondent

as a reward for participating. While Internet surveys may incur little coding or data entry costs

because the data are captured electronically, labor costs for design and programming may be high

(Schonlai, Fricker, and Elliott, 2002).

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Disadvantages of Internet Surveys

The disadvantages of Internet surveys include that electronic mail has generally failed to produce

comparable results to mail techniques. Such surveys have sampling problems and are limited to

those with e-mail accounts. Although more than half of all households in the United States have

computers, only 42 percent had Internet access in 2000. The risk of coverage error has limited

most e-mail surveys to specialized populations. In one study, e-mail surveys with only one contact

achieved a 28.5 percent response; but two follow-ups raised this to 57 percent (ibid., p. 380). The

sampling bias in Internet surveys of the population would most predictably undercount females,

minorities, the elderly, and the undereducated. Internet surveys, just as mail surveys, are selfadministered

questions and suffer from the problem of misinterpretation of questions. E-mail

respondents may lack anonymity in their responses, and employers have the potential to monitor

employee messages.

Research using the Internet may raise special ethical problems (Hamilton, 1999). The

rapid growth in such studies may have outpaced the ability of those concerned with ethical standards

to monitor them. Most online research sites do not use safeguards, such as signed consent

forms, to protect respondents. Online researchers seldom design Web sites to send participants

to a debriefing page on completion of the study. The confidentiality of online responses is also

a problem. While the Internet is characterized by confidentiality, the researcher might use a

"cookie" to identify the computer from which the response was submitted (ibid.). Hackers

could intercept responses to sensitive items. IRBs have been seldom consulted on such studies

and are ill-prepared to deal with them if they were consulted. Standardized guidelines for this

purpose are necessary.

Procedures in Internet Surveys

Market research has found Web-based research particularly useful and is fueling Web site design

and better means of utilizing this strategy (Krauss, 1998). Web surveys can use color photography,

video clips, and other dramatic enhancements. Some helpful hints in Internet surveys include

(McCullough, 1998, p. 32):

KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid). Be as simple and straightforward as possible with questions.

Do not ask what they can't answer. For example: "Did your toilet training as a child affect

your sex life as an adult?"

Don't sell. This is another way of saying avoid leading questions.

The next step is to put it on the Web. One might respond, "Sorry, I don't do windows"

(ibid.). It is probably easiest to have someone with Web design experience produce the site. Try

your younger sibling or relative.

Ways of increasing response rates on Web surveys (ibid., p. 33) include:

Banner ads on Web sites

E-mail invitations

Telephone invitations

E-mail panels

Banner ads on sites frequently visited by one's target audience have been found to be

quite effective. The use of purchased lists for e-mail risks having one's message mistaken for

"spam" (unsolicited junk e-mail). One approach is to identify up-front where you obtained

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144 Chapter 5 • Survey Research

their name. Calling people on the telephone and asking if they have Web access and then

inviting them to participate can also work. In fact, multiple methodologies can be employed

at any time. Some marketing companies are now using e-mail panels to do longitudinal

research.

E-mail-based surveys are done by means of an attachment that the respondent can answer

and return via e-mail or download and mail. Web-based surveys utilize a Web site to attract usually

invited respondents to answer questions online. McCullough (1998, p. 30) outlines the steps

in a survey utilizing a Web site:

Understand clearly what questions you want answered.

Know with whom you want to talk.

Write a questionnaire and put it on the Web.

Build traffic to that questionnaire.

Analyze the data.

The writing of specific, measurable, and useful questions involves the same procedure

that we discussed under questionnaire construction. Specialized populations such as orchid

growers can be found by visiting Web sites relevant to their interest. Web surveys are very similar

to traditional surveys but may actually contain more flexibility and control. They can be

programmed to check that answers fall within a specified range and utilize amazing research

aids (ibid.).

E-mail can be personalized by eliminating the names of multiple recipients from the top

of the screen. Avoid using the carbon-copy function or sending a group message. This also

prevents the respondent from accidentally sending their reply message to each of the other

recipients. As Internet access becomes more universal, the potential of Internet surveys will

become more common. It is important that we as criminological and criminal justice

researchers are not left behind. Hybrid techniques have been developed to enhance the representativeness

of Internet surveys. For example, random samples of the national population are

contacted by phone and then hooked up to the Internet. Theoretically, this yields a representative

sample to whom questionnaires can be sent over the Internet and be completed in the

privacy of their homes (Morin, 2000, p. 34). With response rates below 50 percent, there is

reason to question whether random samples are truly random. Imaginative use of quota

samples and volunteer samples has been successful in online voter polling. The popularity of

Internet surveys has led to the creation of for-profit Internet survey firms who will design

surveys for you. One such firm, Surveymonkey.com (www.surveymonkey.com), advertises

that it will do the following:

  • Permit you to choose from over twenty question types such as multiple choice, rating

scales, and open-ended questions.

  • Support a variety of languages.
  • Validate survey responses.
  • Provide over fifty survey templates.
  • Provide options to change the color, size, or style of the survey.
  • Add logos.
  • Collect responses through a link to your survey e-mail or from the Web site on which the

survey is posted.

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Chapter 5 • Survey Research 145

  • Send follow-up reminders to nonrespondents
  • Facilitate viewing results as soon as they are collected.
  • Protect and keep private all collected data.

Online interviewing also presents many new opportunities as well as challenges for

researchers (Kivitis, 2005). The popularity and relative recentness of Internet surveys have raised

significant ethical and legal questions with respect to human subjects on the Internet. Some

recent concerns about ethical issues and Internet research have arisen as a result of online

researchers not consistently following guidelines with respect to informed consent of subjects,

possible multiple submission of response, and the danger of computer hackers intercepting

messages (Hamilton, 1999). The American Association for the Advancement of Science

(AAAS) also identified some emergent issues (Frankel and Siang, 1999).They raise the question:

What is private information in cyberspace? AAAS saw a particular need for better instruction of

independent review boards regarding online research.

For those interested in doing their own Web survey, Dale Nesbary's Survey Research and

the World Wide Web (2000) is a very useful primer.

Summary

It is most important to remember that surveys, for

the most part, measure respondent attitude and not

behavior.

Characteristics and qualities of mail surveys

have been described in detail because many of

their features are similar to those of other datagathering

strategies in criminal justice survey

research. The chief disadvantages of the mail

survey include nonresponse, unpredictable uniformity

in response, slow replies, possible misinterpretation

of questions, and costly follow-up. To be

weighed against these are the many advantages of

mail surveys, including wide geographical coverage

with a minimum of time, minimal cost and

effort, nonrequirement of field staff, no interviewer

bias, greater privacy, and the opportunity for

more considered replies.

Some possible ways of reducing nonresponse

in mail surveys are follow-up, payment or

altruistic appeals, attractive format, sponsorship,

endorsements, personalization, shortened format,

and good timing.

Some guidelines exist for questionnaire construction.

First, there should be a clear notion of what

is to be measured and a certainty that the instrument

can address this. The use of variables lists and

dummy tables are intermediary steps. Among the

suggestions discussed were the use of language

appropriate to respondents; clear specification of

respondents; avoidance of biased, leading, or objectionable

questions; and the types of questions to use.

A pretest, or trial run, of the instrument is an absolute

necessity. The questionnaire should begin with

the most interesting questions; biographical items

should appear later or last.

Self-report surveys involve asking, usually

anonymous respondents, to admit to a variety of

offenses they had committed in the past. Keeping in

mind our early injunction that reported behavior

does not necessarily equal actual behavior, these

surveys have been criticized for inaccurate reporting,

poor use of instruments and research designs,

and inadequate settings or study subjects. Despite

these shortcomings, defenders of the technique have

demonstrated accuracy and reliability by employing

known-group comparisons and record checks, as

well as "lie scales" and other methodological

devices. Certainly, self-report surveys present the

criminal justice researcher with another tool with

which to measure crime.

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146 Chapter 5 • Survey Research

Key Concepts

Descriptive survey

research 124

Analytic survey research 124

Variables list 125

Dummy tables 125

Pretest 129

Mail surveys 130

Advantages/disadvantages

of mail surveys 131

Ways of increasing response in

mail surveys 132

Self-report surveys 136

Problems with self-report

surveys 139

Strengths of self-report

surveys 139

Known-group validation 141

Lie scales 141

Internal consistency 141

Review Questions

1. What are some disadvantages of mail surveys?

Discuss ways of eliminating them.

2. Suppose a student group planning on conducting a

questionnaire survey discovered that you had taken a

research course and asked you for some specific suggestions.

What are some general recommendations

that you would give?

3. What are some problems as well as benefits of selfreport

surveys as a data-gathering strategy?

4. What are some techniques for improving response

rates in surveys?

5. What are some considerations one must take into

account in doing Internet surveys?

Useful Web Sites

Online Surveys (Tutorial) www.socialresearchmethods.

net/tutorial/Abrahams/sbk16.htm

The Gallup Organization www.gallup.com

U.S. Census Bureau (Criminal Justice Surveys) www.

census.gov/govs/www/cj.html

Survey Research Program Links Page (Sam Houston

State University) www.shsu.edu/∼icc_drl/srp/

srp_links_page.htm

Social Surveys Online (United Kingdom) http://qb.

soc.surrey.ac.uk/docs/home.htm

General Social Survey (Retrievable Data Bases)

www.gss.norc.org

National Opinion Research Center (NORC): University

of Chicago www.norc .uchicago.edu/

United Nations Surveys on Crime www.uncdc.org/

unodc/en/data-and-analysis/index.html

The Survey System (Creative Research Systems)

(includes sample size calculator) www.surveysystem.

com/sdesign.htm#top

Allyn and Bacon's Sociology Links www.abacon.

com/sociology/soclinks/research.htm

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Research Methods in Criminal Justice and Criminology, Eighth Edition, by Frank E. Hagan. Published by Prentice Hall. Copyright © 2010 by Pearson Education, Inc.

 

THE END OF CHAPTER 5

Customer: replied 2 years ago.

C H A P T E R

6 Survey Research

Interviews and Telephone Surveys

Types of Interviews

Advantages of Interviews

Disadvantages of Interviews

Interviewing Aids and Variations

Exhibit 6.1 Public Opinion Polls

General Procedures in Interviews

Training and Orientation Session

Arranging the Interview

Demeanor of Interviewer

Administration of the Structured

Interview

Probing

The Exit

Recording the Interview

Vignettes and Scenarios

Offender Interviews

Telephone Surveys

Advantages and Prospects of Telephone

Surveys

Disadvantages of Telephone Surveys

Computers in Survey Research

Random Digit Dialing

Techniques Employed in Telephone Surveys

Victim Surveys in Criminal Justice

National Crime Victimization Survey

Sampling

Panel Design

A Comparison of UCR, NCVS,

and Self-Report Data

Some Problems in Victim Surveys

Cost of Large Samples

False Reports

Mistaken Reporting

Poor Memory

Telescoping

Sampling Bias

Overreporting and Underreporting

Interviewer Effects

Coding Unreliability and Mechanical Error

Problems Measuring Certain Crimes

Benefits of Victim Surveys

A Defense of Victim Surveys

Controlling for Error in Victim Surveys

Bounding

Reverse Record Checks

Victim Surveys: A Balanced View

Community Crime Victimization Survey

Software

Redesign of the National Crime

Victimization Survey

Exhibit 6.2 The Redesigned National

Crime Victimization Survey

Summary

Key Concepts

Review Questions

Useful Web Sites

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148 Chapter 6 • Survey Research

Interviewing can refer to a variety of face-to-face situations in which the researcher orally

solicits responses. Berg (2001, p. 57) defines interviews as conversations with a purpose, the

purpose being to gather information. These range from in-depth, lengthy interviews of one or

a few subjects to fairly structured surveys of large groups. As with the other techniques of data

gathering discussed, the advantages and disadvantages of interviewing as a means of obtaining

information should be carefully considered along with other techniques before the decision is

made to proceed.

TYPES OF INTERVIEWS

Researchers use different terms to denote interviews. There are three basic forms:

Structured interviews

Unstructured interviews

Depth interviews

Although other types of interviews exist, such as the investigative interview used in journalism

(Douglas, 1976) or the preliminary interview employed prior to a larger study, elements

of these are contained in these three principal types.

Structured interviews, sometimes called closed interview schedules, usually consist of

check-off responses to questions that are either factual or to which most responses easily fit an

expectable pattern.

Question: Compared with last year, what type of job do you feel the local police are

performing in preventing crime in your neighborhood?

______ Much better

______ Somewhat better

______ About the same

______ Somewhat worse

______ Much worse

Question: In which of the following income ranges did your combined family income

fall this past year?

______ Less than $10,000

______ $10,000-$20,000

______ $20,001-$30,000

______ $30,001-$40,000

______ $40,001-$50,000

______ More than $50,000

In structured interviews, the interviewer should avoid soliciting additional comments but,

when they occur, record them verbatim. The principal disadvantage of closed-ended questions is

that they generally elicit only limited response patterns; their advantages are easy administration

and data processing as will be seen later.

Unstructured interviews have many variations depending on the purpose. Sometimes

referred to as focused, clinical, or nondirective interviews, they generally provide for open-ended

Structured

interviews

Unstructured

interviews

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Chapter 6 • Survey Research 149

Depth

interview

Advantages of

interviews

responses to questions. That is, unlike the closed interviews, no predetermined response categories

are provided. To use an example with which all of us have had experience, the structured

interview is comparable to an objective educational test consisting of multiple-choice and trueand-

false items, whereas the unstructured interview is similar to essay tests or tests in which a

person is asked to define or explain the topics being tested. Examples of open-ended response

questions are:

Question: Do you think the police are better or worse in preventing crime in your local

neighborhood than last year? __________

Question: Why do you feel this way? __________

Question: If you were personally the victim of a crime since January 1 of this year, could

you explain the circumstances surrounding this incident? __________

In comparing the relative advantages and disadvantages of the unstructured questionnaire

vis-à-vis the structured, the previous test question example is a useful touchstone for analogy

purposes. The closed-ended items (e.g., the analogy to true and false) are excellent for recording

simple items in which likely categories of response can be predetermined. Such questions make

codification and tabulation easy but may not provide the depth and quality of response needed.

Open-ended items may present a tabulation nightmare but provide the qualitative detail and

complexity of response that may be required, particularly if the subject of study is little known.

The depth interview is a more intensive and detailed interview, usually of fewer subjects

than is the case in a standard survey, and is particularly useful in life histories or case studies. In a

depth interview, the researcher has a general list of topics to be explored but exercises great

discretion and flexibility in the manner, timing, and direction of questioning. Such interviews are

excellent for hypothesis-generating or exploratory research (Merton, Fiske, and Kendall, 1956).

Smykla (1987), with the approval of a state Department of Corrections, wrote to death row

inmates and later, through further correspondence and visitation, requested from them names,

addresses, and telephone numbers of family members. He was able to arrange interviews with

forty family members and describe what he called their "distorted grief reactions." Classic examples

of the use of depth interviews can be found in many case studies and oral histories such as

Sutherland's The Professional Thief (1937), the result of in-depth interviews with a professional

thief, or Laub's Criminology in the Making (1983), an oral history of American criminology

based on interviews with leading criminologists. Cressey's Other People's Money (1953), which

involved extensive interviews with 133 incarcerated embezzlers, also serves as an example.

Other examples will be discussed in the next chapter.

ADVANTAGES OF INTERVIEWS

One chief attraction of the interview is the opportunity it provides for personal contact between the

researcher and the subject. Such a situation presents many possibilities. Because of the face-to-face

relationship, interviews generally bring about a higher response rate than mail surveys. Being on

the scene, the interviewer can clear up any misunderstandings or confusions the respondent may

have in interpreting questions. Additionally, the interviewer can also act as an observer and not

only record verbal responses, but also make note of his or her own impressions regarding the

respondents and their environment.

Interviews provide an opportunity for the interviewer to make use of cards, charts, and other

audiovisual aids. In asking individuals about their income, for instance, the researcher can hand

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Research Methods in Criminal Justice and Criminology, Eighth Edition, by Frank E. Hagan. Published by Prentice Hall. Copyright © 2010 by Pearson Education, Inc.

150 Chapter 6 • Survey Research

Disadvantages

of interviews

Interviewer

effect

the respondents a card with a list of income ranges and ask them to identify the range within

which household income falls. Having greater flexibility, the interviewer can make return visits if

necessary and pitch the language to the level of the respondent. Perhaps less deliberated responses

reflect the respondents' true attitudes, and the nature of the interviewing process taps this. Unlike

researchers who mail questionnaires, interviewers can determine the actual individual who is

responding and can use their discretion as to the appropriate time at which to ask the more

sensitive questions. With guarded or suspicious respondents, questions regarding income and the

like can be saved for last, so as not to prematurely abort answers to the other questions; or such

questions can be asked at a point in the interview when the subject appears most cooperative.

Interviews are more flexible, may elicit more spontaneous responses, and can utilize more complex

lines of questioning than is often possible in mail surveys.

Feminist researchers challenge what they call "malestream" (mainstream male) approaches

to empirical criminal justice research (McDermott, 1992) for not incorporating feminist views.

One researcher used in-depth interviews as a way of getting at women's experiences that are

obscured in standard surveys (Stanko, 1990).

DISADVANTAGES OF INTERVIEWS

Despite the many advantages of interviews, they possess obvious problems. Some principal

disadvantages of field interviews are that they may be very time consuming and costly.

Although these problems can be offset in part by cluster sampling, covering widely dispersed

households in person can be a problem. Interviewer effect or bias may be responsible for

distorted results. Similarly, the interviewer may make mistakes in asking questions or recording

information. Because of these problems, the use of even a few interviewers requires supervision,

training, and monitoring. In assigning and coordinating field interviews, the supervisor

should be aware of the need for weekend and evening interviews to obtain representative

responses. Interviewing becomes a particularly difficult strategy when attempting to obtain

information from hard-to-reach populations, although by way of trade-offs respondents who do

not own telephones can be reached.

Interviews may be problematic for respondents if factual data that must be looked up are

requested. They are sometimes less convenient to the respondent and afford less anonymity than

mail surveys. Perhaps the chief potential problems rest in the quality, integrity, and skill of the

interviewers, factors that may be uneven in interview surveys.

Question wording in interviews can alter response. Exhibit 6.1 gives some examples from

public opinion polls.

One must weigh the advantages and disadvantages of interviewing and compare them with

those of other data-gathering strategies before deciding on the means of data collection.

INTERVIEWING AIDS AND VARIATIONS

Although most standard interviews are recorded more or less on the spot by the interviewer, using

either an interview schedule, a structured interview protocol, or, in the case of depth interviews,

notes that can be reconstructed into finished form immediately after the interview, a variety of

mechanical aids exist that lend even greater versatility and accuracy. In a small number of important

interviews, videotapes may be used. The American Society of Criminology/Academy of Criminal

Justice Sciences' oral history project conducted videotape interviews of famous criminologists.

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Chapter 6 • Survey Research 151

The recording of interviews by means of tape recorders relieves interviewers from the task

of taking on-the-spot notes and enables them to concentrate on conducting the interview.

Dictaphone transcription enables verbatim reconstruction of interviews and, although it produces

an enormous amount of material, presents the researcher with the raw material to digest after the

fact, rather than at the time of the interview. To illustrate that data gathering is limited only by

EXHIBIT 6.1

Public Opinion Polls

Survey research organizations such as Gallup, Roper,

and Yankelovich play a critical role in taking the

pulse of the American public's opinion regarding

public policy. In 1994, 27 percent of the American

public named crime as the most important problem.

Surprisingly, only 3 percent had done so the previous

year. Even though the official crime rate had actually

declined from the previous year, 58 percent of those

surveyed said crime in their community had gotten

worse in the past year and 73 percent said crime in

the country had worsened (Morin, 1994c).

Often, the very wording of survey questions

can produce differing results. In 1992, the American

Jewish Committee was shocked when a poll by the

Roper organization that they had commissioned

discovered that about one-third of those polled felt

it was possible that the Holocaust either never

happened or they were not sure. The actual

question asked was (Morin, 1994a):

As you know, the term Holocaust usually

refers to the killing of millions of Jews in Nazi

death camps during World War II. Does it

seem possible or does it seem impossible to

you that the Nazi extermination of the Jews

never happened?

In April 1994, Roper simplified the question to read:

Does it seem possible to you that the Nazi

extermination of the Jews never happened?

Only 1 percent said it was possible that it never

happened and only 8 percent were unsure. In thirteen

different polls, the Holocaust doubters varied from

1 to 46 percent. Why? It is because of the question

wording. The high group had questions that were

ambiguous or even contained double negatives, as in

our first example. When questioned specifically as to

whether the Holocaust happened, 98 percent of the

"doubters" changed their position and said it did

happen (ibid.).

In one final example, Richard Morin (1994b),

chief of polling for The Washington Post, points out

how the wording of presidential approval questions

produce skewed results. Most of the media

polls such as by the The Washington Post and ABC

News ask:

Do you approve or disapprove of the job

that Bill Clinton is doing as President? Is that

strongly or somewhat approve or disapprove?

The Washington Post tested whether a simpler

response scale might produce a different response.

They did a split ballot test in which half of the

respondents were asked the old questions (above)

and half were asked:

Do you strongly approve, somewhat

approve, somewhat disapprove, or strongly

disapprove of the job Bill Clinton is doing as

President?

While the first version produced 58 percent

favorable, 38 percent unfavorable, and 4 percent no

opinion, the second version yielded 62 percent

approving, 32 percent disapproving, and 6 percent

undecided. These illustrations clearly describe the

critical importance of questionnaire construction and

wording in not just measuring attitudes but in some

cases creating them.

Sources: Morin, Richard. "From Confusing Questions,

Confusing Answers." Washington Post National Weekly

Edition. 18-24 July 1994a, p. 37; Morin, Richard. "Ask

and You Might Deceive." Washington Post National

Weekly Edition. 6-12 December 1994b, p. 37; and

Morin, Richard. "When the Method Becomes the

Message." Washington Post National Weekly Edition.

19-25 December 1994c, p. 33.

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152 Chapter 6 • Survey Research

Randomized

response

technique

(RRT)

imagination, Albini (1971), in The American Mafia: Genesis of a Legend, reported great success

with mail interviews using cassettes. To cut expenses, time, and travel in interviewing police officials,

organized criminals, and experts on organized crime, he mailed his interview protocol-list

of questions-along with blank cassettes and was able to secure interviews with individuals who

otherwise would not have been interviewed.

Although we will discuss the brief, structured telephone interview survey, the telephone

interview can be expanded under special circumstances by tape recording interviews. An inexpensive

electronic patch can be purchased at any electronics store and easily attached to a telephone

to permit verbatim cassette recording of interviews. Unless one is involved in secretive

measurement, an issue to be discussed in detail in Chapter 8, it is standard procedure to ask,

prior to beginning an interview, the respondent's permission to record. Obviously, problems are

raised with respect to the assurance of anonymity and respondent candor. These problems can

sometimes be circumvented by agreeing beforehand to shut off the recorder for more sensitive

items that may be identified as "off-the-record."

Pictorials, photographs, and motion pictures have all been successfully utilized to enhance

studies involving interviews. For such sensitive items as income, respondents can be handed a

card that contains income ranges and asked to specify the general range. Individuals can be asked

to rank their preferences for various items listed on a card.

Another method for coping with resistance to sensitive questions is the randomized

response technique (RRT) (Liu and Chow, 1976; Tracy and Fox, 1981). The technique, originally

developed by Warner (1965), basically uses indeterminate questions; that is, the actual

question answered is known only to the respondent and is unknown by the researcher. The interviewer

is blind or unaware of the actual question a respondent is answering. The RRT is rather

complicated to explain, but basically it uses known probabilities in order to estimate unknown

proportions. Neuman (1993, p. 231) provides an example of one variation:

Here is how RRT works. An interviewer gives the respondent two questions. One is

threatening (e.g., "Do you use heroin?"), the other not threatening (e.g., "Were you

born in September?"). A random method (e.g., toss of coin) is used to select the

question to answer. The interviewer does not see which question was chosen but

records the respondent's answer. The researcher uses knowledge about the probability

of the random outcome and the frequency of the nonthreatening behavior to

estimate the frequency of the sensitive behavior.

In Tracy and Fox's (1981) example, 100 married men are brought together in a room and

asked to flip a coin. Next, they are asked to raise their hand if they either get a head on the coin

or if they have abused their wives. If sixty hands are raised, we can assume ten wife abusers

among those with heads on the coin, because fifty heads would be expected by chance.

Additionally, ten of the fifty with tails would also be assumed to be abusers for a total of twenty

estimated abusers. In an actual interview situation, a single respondent would be asked to

respond to "anonymous" sensitive questions in the same manner. Despite some possible shortcomings,

randomized response procedures have been found to yield more accurate results than

direct questioning methods on sensitive items (Fox and Tracy, 1986). A variety of randomization

procedures are employed. For example, Guerts, Andrus, and Reinmuth (1976) posed

questions to subjects in pairs, one sensitive and one innocuous. The question answered is

determined by a coin flip. They used the technique to analyze shoplifting, destruction, price

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Chapter 6 • Survey Research 153

altering, and other consumer violations. This technique has also been utilized to study abortion

and fertility control, drug use, child abuse, drunk driving, sexual behavior, illegal gambling,

and shoplifting (Klockars, 1982, p. 454).

GENERAL PROCEDURES IN INTERVIEWS

Much of this discussion on procedures in interviewing is applicable primarily to large, standardized

field surveys; however, most of the specific suggestions have been derived from the experience of

both survey research organizations and individual researchers and is appropriate advice even for

individual projects.

TRAINING AND ORIENTATION SESSION

For interview surveys, an adequate amount of time must be spent on training interviewers. These

training sessions, which may last anywhere from a day to a week depending on the complexity of

the study, should familiarize the interviewers with the organization carrying out the survey as

well as the study's purposes. Details of the project should be provided to make the interviewers

feel that they are an important part of the study and to prepare them to answer any questions

regarding the intent of the survey. Hoinville, Jowell, et al. (1978, p. 117) indicate that an effective

manner of impressing the importance of confidentiality of responses on interviewers is to ask

them to sign a declaration of confidentiality promising not to disclose any information in their

possession. Depending on the sampling plan, either a preliminary letter is mailed or a telephone

call is made to schedule an appointment for the interview.

ARRANGING THE INTERVIEW

Interviewers conducting household surveys should not arrive too early or too late, generally no

earlier than 10:00 A.M. and no later than 8:00 P.M. Surveyors should be furnished with, possess

at all times, and present identification to avoid being taken for door-to-door salespersons.

A prominently displayed name tag featuring the official project name and a picture of the interviewer

is frequently useful. On arrival, be sure that the proper person to be interviewed within

the household is located. At this point, the interviewer should not ask if the respondent wishes

to be interviewed now but rather matter-of-factly indicate that the respondent had received a

letter about the survey and that the interviewer is there to conduct it.

If the interviewer is unsuccessful in scheduling a meeting with the respondent, he or she

should keep written track of callbacks and avoid recalls on the same days or same times.

DEMEANOR OF INTERVIEWER

Advice to interviewers can be as simple as beware of dogs, carry change for telephones in case

of emergency, and dress appropriately for audience and weather (Sanders, 1976, p. 273). Where

possible, the field surveyors should match, as closely as possible, the subjects with respect to age,

sex, race, social class, and dress. Attire should be comfortable, but the interviewer should be neither

overdressed nor underdressed for the occasion. Interviewers should have experienced a few practice

interviews beforehand so that they become familiar with the flow of the instrument to be employed.

The interviewer's language style should also be adapted to the group being studied.

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Chapter 6 • Survey Research

Probing

In addition to assuring the respondents that their responses will be held in strictest confidence,

the interviewer should attempt to build up rapport with the subjects by being friendly and

diplomatic, as well as convincing, regarding the importance of the study. The interviewer should

attempt to give the impression that the interview will be a pleasant, interesting, and rewarding

experience. Casual conversation can be effective in building rapport with clients. The weather,

children, appearance of the home or grounds, sports, and the like are useful topics. Interviewers

should try to communicate an air of acceptance of respondents' statements but must maintain

their neutrality (Survey Research Center, 1969). In addition to being a sympathetic diplomat, the

interviewer must be prepared to be a persistent boor, a person willing to ask the types of sensitive

questions that generally are considered "nosey" in nature (Converse and Schuman, 1974).

ADMINISTRATION OF THE STRUCTURED INTERVIEW

In structured interviews, it is important for interviewers to become familiar with the flow of the

questionnaire. The instrument should contain good transition statements that in a conversational

style help the respondent to anticipate what comes next. It should be administered in an easy, informal,

and friendly manner to avoid the appearance of an inquisition. For this reason, at no time

should the study be referred to as an investigation. The purpose of a structured questionnaire is to

standardize the manner in which responses are obtained (Survey Research Center, 1969).

Therefore, interviewers should be instructed not to reword or change the questions in any way.

Although procedures may vary depending on the nature and type of interview survey, in

general, questions should be asked in the order listed on the questionnaire. If clarification is

necessary, the interviewer should mark down and list such necessary comments on the questionnaire

itself.

If the person being interviewed resists answering sensitive questions, explain that the study

is interested in a group picture of people of different incomes, ages, and backgrounds, and this

information is important to the purposes of the study. In addition, the interviewer must assure the

respondent that the information will be held in strictest confidence and that no individuals will be

identified in the final report.

PROBING

Often the answer to a question does not provide enough information for the purposes of the

study, and it therefore becomes necessary for the interviewer to probe. Probing involves asking

follow-up question(s) to focus, expand, clarify, or further explain the response given. The interviewer

should be familiar with the responses needed to each question to know when a probe is

necessary. Given the following hypothetical example, it is obvious that a probe is necessary:

Question: Do you think the police in this community are doing an adequate job in

protecting the community?

Answer: Yeah, I guess so.

Probe: What do you mean by that? In what way?

Of possible assistance in the probe is the interviewer's informal mood and responsiveness to

the answers provided by the respondent. The probe should not appear to be a cross-examination

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Chapter 6 • Survey Research 155

but should be a natural extension of the interview. Conversation can be stimulated by frequent

"uh-huh's" and "I see's" and by repetition of the respondent's answer while recording it.

Occasional silence, although uncomfortable at times, may encourage more thoughtful and considered

responses. Silence may also indicate, similar to police interrogations, that the interviewer is

not going to accept that response. It is almost like saying "You are going to have to come up with

something better or provide an improved explanation" (Sanders, 1976).

Most beginning interviewers have cold feet and fear hostile respondents. Such respondents

are few; however, a problem can also be raised by the overly friendly respondent. Because the

interviewer has imposed on the respondent's time and good-will, a reasonably friendly socializing

is usually required at the end of the session. What, however, of respondents who, during or after

the interview, account in detail their life history, stories of the big war, or the perils of lumbago? If

this occurs during the interview, some tolerance may be in order to permit the respondent a break

from the demands of the interview schedule (Converse and Schuman, 1974). The digression

can be reoriented by a polite interruption indicating that there is a question directly relating to

that later. Demonstrating inattention such as putting down one's pencil or closing the interview

schedule may also work. If the digression takes place after the interview, a polite excuse such as

another appointment will usually work.

THE EXIT

As indicated, once the interview is completed, the interviewer should carry on light conversation

and be alert for any additional comments that the respondent may then offer. Such relevant

remarks should be added to the interview notes as soon as possible after leaving the premises.

Finally, before leaving, the interviewer should thank the subject(s) for their time and hospitality

and should clear up any concerns or doubts the respondent may have regarding the survey.

Informal discussions after the interview can often lead to important "off-the-record" information.

The interviewer can elicit such information by asking in an easy manner, "What do you think?" or

"Is there anything else?" or similar open-ended questions.

Berg (2001, pp. 130-131) describes the ten commandments of interviewing:

1. "Never begin an interview cold." Make small talk and set the stage.

2. "Remember your purpose." Keep the subject on track.

3. "Present a natural front." Be relaxed and natural and not wooden.

4. "Demonstrate aware hearing." Be a real listener and provide appropriate nonverbal

response, such as smiling if the subject makes a joke.

5. "Think about appearance." Dress appropriately for the setting.

6. "Interview in a comfortable place." Meet at a place where the respondent will be afforded

both privacy and safety.

7. "Don't be satisfied with monosyllabic answers." Simple yes or no answers usually call for

further probing questions.

8. "Be respectful." Assure them that you are really interested in what they have to say.

9. "Practice, practice, and practice some more."

10. "Be cordial and appreciative." Do not close the door for future researchers by inappropriate

actions.

If you think about it, this constitutes pretty sound advice for a date, job interview, or life

in general.

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156 Chapter 6 • Survey Research

RECORDING THE INTERVIEW

Although the actual mechanics of data tabulation will be examined in Chapter 12 under Data

Management, a few customary interview procedures bear presentation. Interviewers should be

instructed to write legibly, in pencil, as much of the relevant substance of the interview as possible.

An inexpensive clipboard provides the necessary hard writing surface. The interviewer should

distinguish personal observations from the actual interview by using parentheses. Editing entails

reviewing the interview schedule after completion of the interview and cleaning it up and preparing

it for analysis. The completed interview schedule should be self-explanatory.

The interviewer should have covered each item in the schedule. Unanswered questions

should be marked NA for "not applicable" or simply X to indicate "inappropriate." Where

personal observations are included, it may help the coder (the person charged with assigning

numerical values to the responses) if the interviewer cross-referenced any relevant items. For

example, if an observation has an impact on the understanding of another question, some notation

such as "(see Q. 10 for further explanation)" would be in order.

The interviewer should attempt to record as much as possible during the interview.

Because it is often impossible to record such information verbatim, the jotting down of key

passages for later expansion is helpful. Interviewers should avoid summarizing or paraphrasing

responses but rather try to use the respondent's own words. Paraphrasing requires interpretation

and may change the color and gusto of the real remarks. The interviewer need not ask obvious

questions such as the sex of the respondent. Personal observations can be added at any point they

appear pertinent to an understanding of the response, for example: "(the respondent appeared

very fearful and shaken when relating this incident)". Finally, the end-of-the-interview protocol

should include an opportunity for the interviewer to discuss any other observations that may lead

to a fuller understanding of the context of the interview.

Field interview designers should make use of the face-to-face nature of such encounters to

employ audiovisual and other materials that make the interview more interesting, as well as aid in

the data-gathering process, particularly for overcoming reluctance to answer sensitive questions.

If the research project can afford the luxury of two interviewers per respondent, then

much of the difficulty of recording and conducting an interview can be split, with one interviewer

asking the questions and the other concentrating solely on recording responses.

VIGNETTES AND SCENARIOS

Finch (1993, p.105) describes vignettes as "short stories about hypothetical characteristics in specified

circumstances, to whose situation the interviewee is invited to respond." These vignettes are often

short or typical scenarios (short descriptions of future possibilities) or stories about individuals, situations,

and structures. Target respondents can include individuals or focus groups. In the case of the

latter, vignettes may act as warm-up exercises or icebreakers to get people to interact. The stories are

varied with respect to age, gender, ethnicity, and the like and are useful in exploring sensitive topics.

OFFENDER INTERVIEWS

Decker (2005) points out that interviews with active offenders provide a picture of a different

pattern of offending and perceptions different than those of incarcerated offenders. Such studies

have particularly focused on drug dealers and users, residential burglars, armed robbers, gang

members, and gun offenders. The now defunct Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring System used

interviews with offenders to discern their drug use behavior.

Editing

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Chapter 6 • Survey Research 157

Telephone

surveys

Advantages of

telephone

surveys

Studies of active residential burglars in Odessa, Texas (Cromwell, Olson, and Avery, 1991),

Delaware (Rengert and Wasilchick, 2000), and St. Louis (Wright and Decker, 1994) documented the

variety of motivations of burglars centered around a lifestyle of partying and keeping up appearances.

Studies of armed robbers documented the robbers' versatility in offending patterns, high

levels of victimization of the robbers themselves, and the pressures of maintaining their lifestyle

(Wright and Decker, 1997). Interviews with gang members and gun offenders, along with the types

of offenders mentioned earlier, were able to note the beginning and end of the offenders' careers, as

well as their responses to various sanctions. The detailed examination of types of criminals overcomes

some of the problems exhibited by developmental criminological studies that use data on

property criminals and infer them to all types of criminals (Hagan, 2008, 2009). Decker (2005, p. 17)

identifies eleven specific procedures or items of concrete advice on conducting offender interviews:

1. Establish the goals of the interview.

2. Choose offenders to interview.

3. Determine who should conduct the interviews.

4. Find appropriate subjects.

5. Convince the subjects to participate.

6. Maintain field relations.

7. Conduct interviews.

8. Sort out the truth.

9. Analyze the interview results.

10. Present the findings.

11. Apply the interview results to tactical and strategic problem-solving.

Most of the projects involving interviews with active offenders have relied on offers of incentives

to participate. This may be in the form of cash (which works best) or vouchers. Maintaining

contacts with subjects may pay future dividends in providing other subjects as well as contacts for

future studies. Most researchers tape-record their interviews and transcribe them at a later date. The

location for the interview should be a place where offenders are not at undue risk. Validation of

interviews is a paramount concern. This may be achieved by repeat interviews, interviews with

peers, and comparisons with other sources of data. Many problem-oriented policing projects have

utilized interviews with active offenders (www.cops.usdoj.gov). These have included interviews

with prostitutes in Lancashire, England (Lancashire Constabulary, 2003), with johns and prostitutes

in Buffalo, and with burglars in Chula Vista, California (Chula Vista Police Department, 2001).

TELEPHONE SURVEYS

Although the interview ensures a high response rate and possesses many distinct advantages, the

cost, size of staff, and time required often make it prohibitive for many surveys. If use is made of

the widespread ownership of telephones, however, certain advantages of interviews can be

gained without the need for a large field staff and at a fraction of the cost.

ADVANTAGES AND PROSPECTS OF TELEPHONE SURVEYS

The advantages of telephone surveys include not only the elimination of a field staff, but

simpler monitoring of interviewer bias, because the supervisor can be present at the time interviews

are conducted by listening to the interviewers or listening in on calls. Thus, potential bias

or patterns can be caught early and corrected. Although even lengthy interviews can be obtained

through inexpensive electronic patches between telephone and tape recorder, the primary intent

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158 Chapter 6 • Survey Research

Disadvantages

of telephone

surveys

Screening

questions

of telephone surveys is to obtain wide and representative samples. Such surveys are inexpensive

and quick, generally yield a low nonresponse rate, and provide easy and inexpensive follow-up.

The growing tendency of organizations to obtain flat rate charges that permit fairly unlimited

long-distance calls has made national telephone surveys more of an economic possibility.

Sudman suggests that phone surveys are more effective in obtaining hard-to-locate respondents

than person-to-person interviews. The potential for high refusals can be circumvented,

particularly if short "yes" or "no" answers are used (Sudman, 1980; Glasser and Metzger, 1972).

DISADVANTAGES OF TELEPHONE SURVEYS

Telephone interviews may have difficulty in obtaining in-depth responses or considered answers

over the telephone. There may be some loss of the qualitative detail provided by face-to-face interviews.

In the past, a major objection to telephone surveys has been that they tended to exclude those

who do not own telephones or who have unlisted or new telephone numbers. In some large metropolitan

areas, a considerable proportion of the numbers are unlisted. Also, high mobility in

developed societies may add a large portion of new numbers, and the poor and transient may not own

phones. Although household telephone ownership overall is estimated by the Census Bureau at

approximately 92 percent, it is less than this for African American and minority groups. Ownership

for Hispanics in areas of the Southwest is as low as 65 percent. While telephone surveys can be quick

and inexpensive, if the survey is global in nature, the cost could be prohibitive.

Additional, but not insurmountable, difficulties with telephone surveys include possible

high refusal rates. This is related in part to problems in employing sensitive screening

questions. These are initial queries made by the interviewer to determine whether the person

who has answered the telephone fits the target population, for example, income and occupation.

The following describes screening procedures used in a national survey of stalking (Tjaden

and Thoennes, 1998, p. 17):

Because much confusion exists about what it means to be stalked, the National

Violence Against Women Survey did not use the word "stalking" in its screening

questions. Including the word would have assumed that victimized persons knew

how to define stalking and perceived what happened to them as stalking. Instead, the

survey used the following behaviorally specific questions to screen respondents for

stalking victimization.

Not including bill collectors, telephone solicitors, or other sales people, has anyone, male

or female, ever

  • followed or spied on you?
  • sent you unsolicited letters or written correspondence?
  • made unsolicited phone calls to you?
  • stood outside your home, school, or workplace?
  • showed up at places you were even though he or she had no business being there?
  • left unwanted items for you to find?
  • tried to communicate in other ways against your will?
  • vandalized your property or destroyed something you loved?

Respondents who answered yes to one or more of these questions were asked whether

anyone had ever done any of these things to them on more than one occasion. Because stalking

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Chapter 6 • Survey Research 169

Bounding

Reverse record

checks

A DEFENSE OF VICTIM SURVEYS

Despite the shortcomings of victim surveys that have been elaborated, it should once again be

pointed out that no method of data gathering is perfect. Many of these sources of error are not the

sole province of victim surveys but may apply equally to some of the other techniques of data

gathering. Victim surveys are a relatively young endeavor in criminal justice. Much has already

been learned, and much has yet to be learned in future methodological analyses.

The Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) is constantly monitoring

and attempting to update the methodological accuracy of the NCVS. In 1985, a panel of experts

in criminology-The National Crime Consortium-was charged with the task of devising better

screening questions to obtain better control over forgotten as well as sensitive items. Redesign of

the NCVS reflects this effort.

CONTROLLING FOR ERROR IN VICTIM SURVEYS

Some common means of controlling for error in victim surveys, some of which have already

been mentioned, are:

Use of panels

Bounding of target groups

Evaluations of coding

Reverse record check surveys of known groups

Reinterviews of the same group

Interviews with significant others

Bounding

The use of panels in the NCVS permits the researcher to achieve bounding. The first interview

with residents results in a panel that can then be followed up five times every six months before

being dropped out of the sample. At each six-month interview, respondents are asked about

events since the last interview. Bounding is made possible beginning with the initial interview

during which the boundary, or time period during which events were recalled as having taken

place, can be established. Any events recalled later can be tracked since the previous interview,

thus eliminating telescoping of reports.

Simple coding procedures-the assignment of responses to categories-have high degrees of

measurement error and intercoder discrepancies (Crittenden and Hill, 1971; Sussman and Haug,

1967). The utilization of different coders to classify the same data enables assessment of coding error.

Reverse Record Checks

Reverse record checks involve validation of reported behavior on the basis of studying a group

whose behavior is already known. Pilot studies of known victims who had reported their incidents

to police were conducted in Washington, D.C., Baltimore, and San Jose (Panel for the

Evaluation of Crime Surveys, 1976, p. 33). The surveys found that recall deteriorates more

quickly after six months, and particularly forgotten are crimes committed by close acquaintances.

In the San Jose survey, 52 percent of assaults known to police were not reported in victim surveys

(National Advisory Committee, 1976, p. 146). Reiss interviewed a sample of respondents who

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.

170 Chapter 6 • Survey Research

had reported crimes to the police the month before and discovered that one out of five failed to

report to interviewers crimes they had reported to police the previous month (Reiss, 1967).

Reinterview of the same group enables an assessment of potential bias and interviewer

bias. Results obtained by the initial interviewer can be compared with those obtained by the

second interviewer. Such information can then be reconciled or resolved through agreement

(Panel for the Evaluation of Crime Surveys, 1976, p. 63).

Interviews with significant others, peers, teachers, and the like provide a cross-check on

claimed behavior.

VICTIM SURVEYS: A BALANCED VIEW

In 1974, when LEAA released the findings from its thirteen central city surveys, Donald Santarelli,

then head of the organization, was quoted as having remarked "For the first time in history, we now

have an accurate measure of crime in America-at least in these 13 cities" (Burnham, 1974, pp. 1, 51).

Other popular reviews pointed to how victim surveys, in covering the dark figure of crime, showed

that there was actually twice as much crime as appears in official police statistics. After review of

the advantages and disadvantages of victim surveys, it seems fair to conclude that:

1. For the types of personal and household crimes, both victim surveys and the UCR measure,

the true rate is most likely somewhere between victim surveys, which overestimate crime,

and the UCR, which underestimates crime.

2. For other types of crimes such as occupational, corporate, and public order crime, both

measures underestimate crime.

3. Despite shortcomings, victim surveys present a needed separate and independent assessment

of crime and other criminal justice matters of importance.

The problems encountered with most methods of data gathering are not inherent to the nature

of the method; rather, the problems arise because the method is used as the sole means of assessment.

COMMUNITY CRIME VICTIMIZATION SURVEY SOFTWARE

The BJS has produced Crime Victimization Survey (CVS) software that can be used by local

government agency researchers to conduct their own victimization surveys. It uses the same

question asked in the NCVS. In addition, it contains questions that can measure citizen attitudes

toward crime, their neighborhood, and local policing services. The Justice Survey Software is a

free Web-based software for justice agencies to conduct their own surveys using standardized

questions available from various sources (www.bjsjss.org).

REDESIGN OF THE NATIONAL CRIME VICTIMIZATION SURVEY

In 1974, in response to an evaluation by the National Academy of Sciences and an internal

review by a predecessor of the BJS, a project was begun to evaluate and redesign the NCVS. The

evaluation was put together by a consortium of universities and private research firms and by the

staff from BJS and the Census Bureau. Implementation of some of these redesign plans was

begun in 1986; others were phased in later (Taylor, 1989, p. 1).

The first changes, those which would have minimal impact on NCVS victimization rates,

were introduced in July 1986. Most of these items related to the expanded list of questions, those

that were added to the questionnaire which had remained fundamentally unchanged since 1972.

These new questions related to: XXXXX XXXXX alcohol use by offenders, self-protective measures taken

by victims, police actions, victim contact with the justice system, location of crime, victim's activity,

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Chapter 6 • Survey Research 171

and expansion of several existing questions (Whitaker, 1989, p. 2). Among other changes was the

decision to use CATI technology (computer-assisted telephone interviewing). With this CATI technology,

questionnaire items can be flashed on a video monitor, and then interviewers can immediately

enter responses using the keyboard. The redesigned NCVS program is also considering but

has not implemented CAPI technology (computer-assisted programmed interviewing), which

makes possible the use of portable laptop computers in field interviews. Although the proposed

changes involve too many details for our presentation, it is worth noting some other modifications.

These modifications include altering the scope of crimes measured or adding new topical supplements

to the NCVS on a regular basis. Special questions will be periodically added to deal with

timely topics, such as school crime or victim risk (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 1989).

Efforts were made in redesigning the NCVS to avoid disrupting the integrity of its longitudinal

design. The new survey instrument was phased into the NCVS so as not to compromise

trend data (Bachman and Taylor, 1994, p. 502). Exhibit 6.2 details the redesigned NCVS.

EXHIBIT 6.2

The Redesigned National Crime Victimization Survey

Additional Details About the Redesign of

the National Crime Victimization Survey

In the mid 1970s, the National Academy of Sciences

evaluated the NCVS for accuracy and usefulness.

While the survey was found to be an effective

instrument for measuring crime, reviewers identified

aspects of the methodology and scope of the NCVS

that could be improved. They proposed research to

investigate the following:

  • an enhanced screening section that would

better stimulate respondents' recall of

victimizations

  • screening questions that would sharpen the

concepts of criminal victimization and diminish

the effects of subjective interpretations of

the survey questions

  • additional questions on the nature and consequences

of victimizations that would yield

useful data for analysis

  • enhanced questions and inquiries about

domestic violence, rape, and sexual attack to

get better estimates of these hard-to-measure

victimizations.

The Redesign Has Improved the

Measurement of Domestic Violence

Respondents may be reluctant to report acts of

domestic violence as crimes, particularly if the

offender is present during the interview. In addition,

victims may not perceive domestic violence as

discrete criminal acts but as a pattern of abuse.

Though these issues still pose measurement

problems, the redesigned screening section includes

explicit questions about incidents involving family

members, friends, and acquaintances. Screening

questions also include multiple references to acts of

domestic violence to encourage respondents to

report such incidents even if they do not define

these acts as crimes. The survey staff review these

reported incidents using standardized definitions of

crimes. Thus, within the categories of violent crime

measured by the NCVS, the redesign will produce

fuller reporting of those incidents that involved

intimates or other family members.

A Comparison of the Old and New

Questionnaires Illustrates the Expanded

Cues That Help a Respondent

Recall an Incident

New

1. People often don't think of incidents committed

by someone they know. Did you have

something stolen from you OR were you

attacked or threatened by-

a. Someone at work or school-

b. A neighbor or friend-

c. A relative or family member-

d. Any other person you've met or known?

(continued)

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172 Chapter 6 • Survey Research

EXHIBIT 6.2 (Continued )

2. Did you call the police to report something

that happened to YOU which you thought

was a crime?

3. Did anything happen to you which you thought

was a crime but did NOT report to the police?

Old

1. Did you call the police to report something

that happened to YOU which you thought

was a crime?

2. Did anything happen to YOU which you

thought was a crime but did NOT report to

the police?

The new NCVS has resulted in more victimizations

being reported than when the old instrument was

used. The survey now includes improved questions

and cues that help victims to remember victimizations.

Interviewers now ask more explicit questions about

sexual victimizations. Victim advocates have also been

instrumental in encouraging victims to talk more

openly about these experiences (National Crime

Victimization, 1994).

Reasons for Differences in Violent Crime

Rates Because of the New and Old

Screener Questions

The new screener questions provide more specific

cues regarding kinds of items used as weapons and

kinds of offender actions that better define the

in-scope crimes of violence for the NCVS. In particular,

the explicit cuing of rape and other sexual

assaults has been added to the new screener. A sideby-

side comparison of the new- and old-screener

questions is provided.

Furthermore, two frames of reference have

been added or more explicitly defined in the new

screener. The first relates to crimes being committed

by someone the respondent knows. The second

relates to the possible location of a crime or activities

the respondent may have been involved in. This

screener question takes the few sporadically

mentioned cues of location/activity in the old

screener questions and creates another specific

frame of reference with a greatly expanded list of

location/activity cues.

Violent Crime Screener Questions

New

1. Has anyone attacked or threatened you in

any of these ways-

a. With any weapon, for instance, a gun or

knife-

b. With anything like a baseball bat, frying

pan, scissors, or stick-

c. By something thrown, such as a rock or

bottle-

d. Include any grabbing, punching, or choking,

e. Any rape, attempted rape, or other type of

sexual attack-

f. Any face-to-face threats-

OR

g. Any attack or threat or use of force by anyone

at all? Please mention it even if you are

not certain whether it was a crime.

2. Incidents involving forced or unwanted sexual

acts are often difficult to talk about. Have you

been forced or coerced to engage in unwanted

sexual activity by-

a. someone you didn't know before

b. a casual acquaintance OR

c. someone you know well?

Old

1. Did anyone take something directly from you

by using force, such as by a stickup, mugging,

or threat?

2. Did anyone TRY to rob you by using force or

threatening to harm you?

3. Did anyone beat you up, attack you, or hit

you with something, such as a rock or bottle?

4. Were you knifed, shot at, or attacked with

some other weapon by anyone at all?

5. Did anyone THREATEN to beat you up or

THREATEN you with a knife, gun, or some other

weapon, NOT including telephone threats?

6. Did anyone TRY to attack you in some other

way?

(continued)

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Chapter 6 • Survey Research 173

All Types of Crimes Screener Questions

New

1. Were you attacked or threatened, OR did you

have something stolen from you-

a. At home including the porch or yard-

b. At or near a friend's, relative's, or neighbor's

home-

c. At work or school-

d. In places such as a storage shed or laundry

room, a shopping mall, restaurant, bank,

or airport-

e. While riding in any vehicle-

f. On the street or in a parking lot-

g. At such places as a party, theater, gym,

picnic area, bowling lanes, or while fishing

or hunting-

OR

h. Did anyone ATTEMPT to attack or attempt

to steal anything belonging to you from

any of these places?

2. People often don't think of incidents committed

by someone they know. Did you have

something stolen from you, OR were you

attacked or threatened by-

a. Someone at work or school-

b. A neighbor or friend-

c. A relative or family member-

3. Did you call the police to report something

that happened to YOU which you thought

was a crime?

4. Did anything happen to you which you

thought was a crime but did NOT report to

the police?

Old

1. Was anything stolen from you while you were

away from home, for instance, at work, in a

theater or restaurant, or while traveling?

2. Did you call the police to report something

that happened to YOU which you thought

was a crime?

3. Did anything happen to YOU which you

thought was a crime but did NOT report to

the police?

Reasons for Differences in Burglary Rates

Because of the New and Old Screener

Questions

In general, the same frame of reference is

established for burglary in the new and old

screener. However, the new screener has several

more specific cues. These additional cues relate to

how the offender might have gotten into or

attempted to get into the respondent's home

and/or other types of buildings that may be on the

respondent's property.

Burglary Screener Questions

New

1. Has somebody-

a. Broken in or ATTEMPTED to break into

your home by forcing into door or window,

pushing past someone, jimmying a

lock, cutting a screen, or entering through

an open door or window?

b. Has anyone illegally gotten in or tried to

get into a garage, shed, or storage room?

OR

c. Illegally gotten in or tried to get into a

hotel or motel room or vacation home

where you were staying?

Old

1. Did anyone break into or somehow get into

your home, garage, or another building on

your property illegally?

2. Did you find a door jimmied, a lock forced, or

any other signs of an ATTEMPTED break in?

3. Did anyone take something belonging to you

or any member of this household, from a

friend's or relative's home, a hotel or motel, or

vacation home?

Motor Vehicle Theft Rates

There is no significant difference in motor vehicle

theft rates between the new and old methods. One

reason is that the new- and old-screener questions

are very similar. Another reason is that motor vehicle

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174 Chapter 6 • Survey Research

TABLE 1 Changes in Totals Reflect the Headings Under Which Offenses Are Counted

Type of Crime

(New Classification) 1992 Crime Rate

Type of Crime

(New Classification) 1992 Crime Rate

Personal crimes 126.8 Personal crimes 51.1

Crimes of violence 49.3 Crimes of violence 49.3

Rape/other sexual assault 2.9 Rape/other sexual assault 2.9

Robbery 6.2 Robbery 6.2

Completed 4.1 Completed 4.1

Attempted 2.1 Attempted 2.1

Assault 40.2 Assault 40.2

Aggravated 11.1 Aggravated 11.1

Simple 29.1 Simple 29.1

Crimes of theft 77.5 Purse snatching

Household crimes 180.8 pocket picking 1.8

Burglary 58.7 Property crimes 325.3

Household larceny 103.5 Burglary 58.7

Motor vehicle theft 18.6 Motor vehicle theft 18.6

Theft* 248.0

*The theft category is a new crime category. It includes those crimes that were previously classified in two other crime

categories: household larceny and personal larceny without contact (a subcategory of crimes of theft).

Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, 1994a, p. 10.

thefts are highly salient events (demonstrated by the

fact that they have the highest percent reported to

police), suggesting little room for improvement in

their measurement. Similar results were observed in

the Computer-Assisted Telephone Interviewing (CATI)

research. While CATI increased ratios for most types

of crime, it had no significant effect on motor vehicle

theft rates.

Motor Vehicle Theft Screener Questions

New

1. Was it-

a. Stolen or used without permission?

b. Did anyone ATTEMPT to steal any vehicles?

Old

1. Did anyone steal, TRY to steal, or use it without

permission?

Redesign of Type of Crime

Classification Scheme

A major reclassification scheme has shifted most of

what were previously categorized as personal crimes

of theft into property crimes of theft. Under the old

scheme, theft was characterized as a personal or

household crime based on location of the incident. If

an item were stolen from the grounds of a home, it

was considered a household theft; if the same item

were stolen from someplace away from the home, it

was considered a personal theft. This distinction was

rather arbitrary and unwieldy, since many items are

jointly owned by members of a household. The

redesigned NCVS classifies all thefts as household

thefts unless there was contact between victim and

offender. Personal thefts with contact (purse snatching

and pocket picking) are now the only type of theft that

are categorized as personal theft. Table 1 compares

the old and new type of crime classification scheme.

EXHIBIT 6.2 (Continued )

(continued)

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Chapter 6 • Survey Research 175

EXHIBIT 6.2 (Continued )

Overlap Between the Old and New

NCVS Methods

As discussed previously, an integral part of the

planned transition from the old methods to the new

methods of kconducting the NCVS was to include a

substantial overlap period in which both methods

were implemented concurrently. Besides being used

for comparing crime estimates, the overlap data can

be used to extend earlier time trends data. Statistical

models will be developed to adjust for the effects of

the new methods on victimization reporting.

Adjustment factors will be estimated at least for the

major crime categories and possibly for other

important variables if reliable differences are found.

Summary

Although many of the issues regarding survey

research discussed in Chapter 5 are also applicable to

this chapter, the purpose of this chapter has been to

explore the major elements of the interview, particularly

as it is used in criminal justice research.

Interviewing, which basically involves face-to-face

interaction between the interviewer and the respondent,

has many variations depending on the purpose

of the interview. Principal among these are structured

(closed-ended response), unstructured (open-ended

response), and depth (focus) interviews.

Some general advantages of the interview

method are personal contact, which affords observation,

clarification of misunderstandings and control

over respondents, and the opportunity to employ

visual aids, make return visits, and gear language to

the level of the respondent. Interviews are also more

flexible than mail questionnaires. Disadvantages of

interviews include their sometimes time-consuming

and costly nature, potential interviewer bias and

mistakes, need for field supervision, and difficulty

in reaching certain respondents. Also, question

wording in public opinion polls has been shown to

radically alter response.

Some interview situations may lend themselves

to the use of various electronic recording equipment or

other aids which can be a considerable bonus. The randomized

response technique, in which the interviewer

is blind to the specific item (either a sensitive one or

probability one) being answered, may assist in overcoming

respondent reactivity to sensitive questions.

Some appropriate procedures in conducting

interviews have been detailed. The interviewer

should receive an orientation and training session to

be made aware of the organization and the survey and

to practice interviewing and become familiar with the

instrument to be employed. Arrangement of the

interview, proper protocol, demeanor of interviewers,

and administration of the questionnaire, including

probing and exiting, were detailed. Interviewers

should follow established procedures in recording

and editing their survey schedules.

The use of the telephone survey to assess

victimization holds promise as a means of reducing

the cost of victim surveys. Phone surveys have such

limitations as reduced scope, less in-depth responses,

high refusal rates, and exclusion of disproportions

of certain populations, particularly the poor

and minorities. On the other hand, they have the

advantages of no field staff, simple checks on interview

bias, inexpensiveness, quickness, and easy

follow-up.

Computer software such as CART (Continuous

Audience Response Technology) has greatly expanded

the versatility of the interview. Random digit

dialing enables the coverage of unlisted numbers, a

previous shortcoming of phone surveys of victims.

The use of more careful screening questions and

branching procedures for sensitive items may reduce

nonresponse. Clever procedures have been developed

to ask even attitudinal scale questions by telephone.

Victim surveys have been surprisingly

ignored as a means of measuring crime until relatively

recently. As a result of pilot studies in the

late 1960s, LEAA, in cooperation with the Census

Bureau, began two major types of surveys that

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176 Chapter 6 • Survey Research

involved direct questioning of persons as to

whether they had been victims of crime. The first

type, the NCVSs, collected information from both

central city households and commercial establishments.

The second type, called the "National Crime

Panels," consisted of a national stratified multistage

cluster sample of households and a two-stage probability

sample of businesses. The unique characteristics

of the crime panels were bounding of panels

and reinterviews of respondents every six months

until they were rotated out of the sample and

replaced by a new unit.

Victim surveys are not without their problems.

Principal among these are high cost, false reports,

mistaken interpretation of incidents as crimes, memory

failure and decay, sampling bias, over- and/or

underreporting, telescoping, interviewer effects, and

coding and mechanical error. In defense of surveys

of victims, many of their shortcomings are also

present in other techniques, and many of the problems

identified are in part controllable through the

use of panels, bounding, quality control, overcoding,

reverse record checks, studies of known victim

groups, reinterviews, and interviews of persons who

know the victim. As was the case with self-report

surveys, victim surveys provide a valuable additional

assessment of crime.

Beginning in 1986, redesign of the NCVS

began to be implemented. This redesign included

plans to use CATI (computer-assisted telephone

interviewing) and, in the future, possibly CAPI

(computer-assisted programmed interviewing). The

redesigned NCVS improved particularly the measurement

of domestic violence.

Key Concepts

Structured interviews 148

Unstructured interviews 148

Depth interviews 149

Advantages/disadvantages of

interviews 150

Interviewer effect 150

Randomized response

technique (RRT) 152

Probing 154

Editing the interview 156

Telephone surveys 157

Advantages/disadvantages of

telephone surveys 157

Screening questions 158

CAPI 159

CART 159

CATI 159

Random digit dialing 160

Branching procedure 161

Dark figure of crime 162

Victim surveys 162

NCVS 163

Crime panels 164

Bounding 164

Some problems in victim

surveys 164

Telescoping 166

Demand characteristics 167

Vignettes 156

Benefits of victim

surveys 168

Reverse record check 169

Review Questions

1. What are some distinct advantages of interviewing as

a data-gathering strategy? Discuss some interviewing

aids which further enhance this technique.

2. Suppose you were the director of a research project

and assigned the task of running a short training program

for the interviewers. What are some specific

points you would present?

3. Compare the NCVS with the UCR as measures of

crime in the United States.

4. What are some methodological problems in victim surveys

as well as some means of controlling for them?

5. What are some techniques employed in telephone

surveys, particularly in those that are designed to

overcome identified shortcomings of telephone

surveys?

6. What impact does the wording of questions have on

response in surveys, public opinion polls, and victim

surveys?

7. Discuss some redesign features of the NCVS particularly

as it relates to the measurement of domestic

violence.

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Chapter 6 • Survey Research 177

Useful Web Sites

National Crime Victimization Survey www.ojp.usdoj.

gov/bjs/cvict.htm

The Survey System (Creative Research Systems)

www.surveysystem.com/sdesign.htm#top

Crime Victimization Survey Software (Version 1.3)

www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/pub/pdf/questions.pdf

Telephone Interview Methodology (Washington State

University) http://survey.sesrc.wsu.edu/methodologies/

telephone_surveys.htm

Computer Assisted Qualitative Data Software Resources

http://fcis.oise.utoronto.ca/~kcook/qualsoftware/

Electronic Journals in Qualitative Research

www.uga.edu

Research Navigator www.researchnavigator.com/

articles/research.asp?p=171027seqnum=2

Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention

(OJJDP) www.ojp.usdoj.gov

Guide to BJS Web Site www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs

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THE END OF CHAPTHER 6

Customer: replied 2 years ago.

C H A P T E R

7 Participant Observation

and Case Studies

A Critique of Experiments and Surveys

Verbal Reports versus Behavior

A Defense of Quantitative Research

Participant Observation

Types of Participant Observation

Characteristics of Participant Observation

Objectivity in Research

"Going Native"

General Procedures in Participant Observation

Field Notes

Mnemonics

Other Recording Methods

Visual Criminology

Tips on Participant Observation

Gaining Access

Exhibit 7.1 American Skinheads: The

Criminology and Control of Hate Crime

Gatekeepers

Announcement of Intentions

Sampling

Reciprocity and Protection of Identity

Concern for Accuracy

Examples of Participant Observation

Exhibit 7.2 Islands in the Streets

Exhibit 7.3 This Thing of Darkness:

A Participant Observation Study of

Idaho Christian Patriots

Advantages of Participant Observation

Disadvantages of Participant Observation

Case Studies

Life History/Oral History

Some Examples of Case Studies

Exhibit 7.4 Confessions of a Dying Thief

Journalistic Field Studies

Single-Subject Designs

Summary

Key Concepts

Review Questions

Useful Web Sites

Who are Chic Conwell, Doc, Long John, Vince Swaggi, XXXXX XXXXX, and Stanley the

"Jack-Roller"? They are pseudonyms of legendary subjects of social science field

studies and "native guides" to the criminal "turf" as well as to some of the most

fascinating literature in criminology. In this chapter, you will meet Chic Conwell, Sutherland's

The Professional Thief (1937); Doc and Long John, members of Whyte's Street Corner Society

(1943); Vince Swaggi, Klockars' The Professional Fence (1974); XXXXX XXXXX, Chambliss'

safecracker in The Box Man (1975); and Stanley, a mugger in Shaw's The Jack-Roller (1930)

and Snodgrass' The Jack-Roller at Seventy (1982).

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Chapter 7 • Participant Observation and Case Studies 179

A CRITIQUE OF EXPERIMENTS AND SURVEYS

Some researchers feel that social science and criminal justice research have been overdependent

on the artificial elements of questionnaires, interviews, and experimental settings. Such

data-gathering approaches are viewed as creating, as well as measuring, attitudes and bringing

about atypical roles and responses (Webb et al., 1966). Such strategies intrude into a setting as

foreign elements, are limited to cooperative and obtainable populations, and tend to elicit

stooge effects or response sets, particularly with much of the early corrections research.

Whyte (1981) laments the recent ascendancy of quantitative methods and decline of

qualitative field work and says that if a history of the current period of sociology were to be

written, one of the chapters would have to be "Captured by Computer."

Verbal Reports versus Behavior

Critics of such quantitative research suggest that little relationship exists between attitude

and behavior and that more "sensitizing" strategies involving field studies contain greater

accuracy (Deutscher, 1966; Phillips, 1971). Such writers typically cite a classic study to

illustrate their point of nonconvergence of attitude and behavior-LaPiere's "Restaurant

Study" (LaPiere, 1934). LaPiere traveled with a Chinese couple to a large number of restaurants

on the West Coast and observed the treatment they received. Only one of 251 establishments

refused them service. Later, he sent the same establishments a questionnaire; more

than 90 percent replied that they would deny service. The disparity between what people say

(attitudes) and what people do (deeds) illustrates the hazards of attitudinal measurement of

behavioral items.

Although Chapter 9 will discuss in detail the validity of verbal reports, Levine cites

a number of studies in which respondents misreported known behavior that could have been

checked. People were inaccurate in reporting voting behavior, time of vaccination of children,

money in savings accounts, level of loan debt, sexual activity, class attendance, and school

grades. Studies of known crime victims found that a significant number failed to report to interviewers

victimizations that they had already reported to the police (Levine, 1976).

In Chapter 3, it was suggested that error is ever present, even in the best research. Critics

of more quantitative and artificial means of measurement indicate that instead of speaking of

error in measurement, it would be more accurate to speak of the error of measurement

(Deming, 1944; Phillips, 1971). These errors in surveys and experimental studies include

variability in response as a result of the noncomparability of studies and differences caused by

the methodologies employed. For example, telephone surveys may turn up greater victimization

than face-to-face interviews. The degree and kind of canvass will impact on results.

Interviewer bias, if unchecked, may produce error. In doing a study of rural elderly using five

interviewing teams, this writer was startled to discover in a preliminary analysis the high level

of fear of crime in what was assumed to be a pastoral setting. A quick check, however,

revealed that one interview team produced the majority of cases in which crime was a

perceived problem. During our weekly staff meeting, it came to light that one of the interviewers,

an elderly woman, had recently been victimized and unconsciously led her respondents

into seeing crime as a primary problem. Fortunately, this was caught and corrected before it

did major harm to the study results (Hagan, 1972).

Bias of auspices or sponsorship may compromise the results of many studies. For this very

reason, many criminal justice programs bring in outside, objective evaluators to analyze program

Criticism of

quantitative

methods

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180 Chapter 7 • Participant Observation and Case Studies

outcomes. Certainly, a study of the benefits of a product would be more suspect if conducted by

the manufacturer of a product, rather than by an independent laboratory.

Design imperfections, in either the instrument or the analysis, can produce inaccurate

results. Failure to account for nonrespondents may compromise the results of surveys.

Nonrespondents may differ considerably from those who cooperate in a survey. Much survey

research, although planned and designed by professionals, is conducted by "hired hands":

individuals who may have little interest in the accuracy or are unaware of the idiosyncrasies and

subtleties in data. Sussman and Haug (1967) point out that unchecked mechanical errors in

coding and data entry may be more serious in survey data than many assume. Sampling errors

and nonrepresentative samples may lead to error, as might errors in interpretation of findings on

the part of the researchers.

Orne found that subjects in his experiments were willing to put up with boring, uncomfortable,

painful, and ridiculous tasks if asked to do so by the experimenter. In fact, he was

unsuccessful in finding experimental tasks that the subjects would refuse to perform. Most

would yield to any request because "it's an experiment" (Orne, 1974). In one attempt to

assign an obnoxious task, respondents were asked to perform serial additions of rows of

digits and then tear up their answers and start all over again. The subjects so eagerly continued

this dull and senseless task without refusal that the experimenter finally gave up (Orne,

1974, p. 142).

For these and other reasons, some critics feel that findings based on surveys and experiments

are questionable, that much "artificial" research is really measurement error ("error of

measurement"), and therefore more natural methods of data gathering should be employed.

A DEFENSE OF QUANTITATIVE RESEARCH

In defense of quantitative methods, it should be reiterated from Chapter 3 that error is ever

present in all research. Many of these errors are not the exclusive problem of surveys and

experiments alone, but can be found in the very methods advocated by the critics. The only perfect

research is no research. Also, many errors are not additive in their effect and may cancel

each other, just as many of these potential errors are not inevitable but can be controlled before

the fact, through research design, or after the fact, through statistical analysis.

Chapter 9 will illustrate that no data-gathering methodology alone has any guaranteed

inherent superiority over another. So, although the problems with surveys and experiments may

have been overstated, these criticisms remain the major reasons why some prefer more natural

field methods, ethnographic or qualitative measures, such as participant observation.

PARTICIPANT OBSERVATION

Participant observation has long been the favorite tool of anthropologists in studying preliterate

tribes (Bernard, 1994). This is so much the case that it has been suggested in jest that

the typical Navajo family consists of a grandparent, mother, father, three children, and an

anthropologist.

Participant observation refers to a variety of strategies in which the researcher studies a

group in its natural setting by observing its activities and, to varying degrees, participating in its

activities.

Participant

observation

Defense of

quantitative

research

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Chapter 7 • Participant Observation and Case Studies 181

A very moving call for field studies in an unpublished statement by Robert Park in the

1920s was recorded by Howard Becker, one of Park's students at the time:

You have been told to go grubbing in the library, thereby accumulating a mass of

notes and a liberal coating of grime. You have been told to choose problems

wherever you can find musty stacks of routine records based on trivial schedules

prepared by tired bureaucrats and filled out by reluctant applicants for aid or

fussy do-gooders or indifferent clerks. This is called "getting your hands dirty in

real research." Those who thus counsel you are wise and honorable; the reasons

they offer are of great value. But one thing more is needful: first hand observation.

Go and sit in the lounges of the luxury hotels and on the doorsteps of the

flophouses; sit on the Gold Coast settees and on the slum shakedowns; sit in

Orchestra Hall and in the Star and Garter Burlesk. In short, gentlemen, go get the

seat of your pants dirty in real research (McKinney, 1966, p. 71).

The Chicago School of Sociology in the 1920s not only got the seat of their pants dirty, but

positively wore them out, along with shoes and pens. Much of the early ethnographic work in

criminology was pioneered by the students of this school. Perhaps with the demise of the funded

"golden age of criminal justice research" (the 1970s), researchers may return to the qualitative

methods and people-oriented Chicago School style research (Reichel, 1985).

The target populations of criminal justice research-the public, victims, criminals, and

criminal justice functionaries-have been subject to a variety of methodological analyses.

Although some fine examples of the use of participant observation exist in the field, it has been

viewed as a neglected and underused technique in criminal justice. Despite this belief and police

suspicion, clandestineness, and resistance to researchers, a disproportionate number of police

studies have utilized participant observation as the major means of data gathering (Manning and

Van Maanen, 1979; Manning, 1972; Sanders, 1977).

Contrary to advice offered by writers of leading criminology textbooks such as Sutherland

and Cressey (1978), Polsky suggests that it is not unwise or impossible to study criminals in their

natural environment. In his book, Hustlers, Beats, and Others, Polsky (1967) describes how he

successfully employed participant observation in studying uncaught organized criminals, pool

hustlers, drug dealers, and con artists. Advocates of participant observation such as Polsky feel

that we have been too dependent on studies of imprisoned criminals in an unnatural environment

or on unquestioned use of official statistics, and that this has led to an inaccurate view of criminals

and criminal behavior.

Previously, the point was made that all research may be viewed as a variation of the

experimental model; Douglas (1972, 1976) suggests that similarly, participant observation may

be viewed as the beginning point of all other research. Before one can design a survey or experiment,

one must observe the subject of the investigation sufficiently to know the proper areas to

probe. As we have indicated, participant observation has been most heavily used in anthropology

where it was often the only way of studying preindustrial groups without a written language, by

employing methods other than questionnaires or other standard methods. It represents a commitment

to a more inductive or sensitizing strategy. Weber (1949) referred to such strategies as

illustrative of a Verstehen approach, one in which the researcher purposefully attempts to

understand phenomena from the standpoint of the actors or to gain critical insight through an

understanding of the entire context and frame of reference of the subjects under study.

Verstehen

approach

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182 Chapter 7 • Participant Observation and Case Studies

QUALITATIVE

Participation

Complete

Participation

Complete

Observation

Observer

as

Participant

Participant

as

Observer

Observation

QUANTITATIVE

FIGURE 7.1 Types of Participant Observation.

Those of you who have had internship or service learning experiences have a sense of

verstehen. It is difficult to describe the changes that take place and perspectives gained, but

those exposed to the experience gain critical insights that enable a greater appreciation for

others and the setting in which they live or work.

Ethnography, ethnomethodology, and field studies are other labels for techniques similar

to, if not the same as, participant observation (Garfinkel, 1967; Denzin and Lincoln, 1993).

Glaser and Strauss (1967) call for a grounded theory approach, by which a theory is

developed during the data-gathering process, thus grounding it in the real world, rather than

artificially predetermining which hypotheses will be looked at.

TYPES OF PARTICIPANT OBSERVATION

Previously, participant observation was defined in terms of the degree to which participation

and observation may vary. Figure 7.1 suggests how each of the following items may vary

(Gold, 1958): complete participation, participant as observer, observer as participant, and

complete observation.

Complete participation takes place when the researcher not only joins in, but actually

begins to manipulate the direction of, group activity. Such a strategy is rare and tends to violate an

essential element of good participant observation-that the researcher attempt to avoid influencing

the attitudes or behavior of the subjects under study. Another way of viewing complete participation

is to label it "disguised observation," a subject to be treated in detail in Chapter 8.

The most frequently cited example of complete participation in the social science literature is

the case of a group of researchers who joined a small doomsday cult called When Prophecy Fails

(Festinger, Riecken, and Schachter, 1956). Because the group was small, questions were raised as to

the extent to which the researchers brought about the behavior they wished to investigate.

Describing his research strategy as "complete participation," Marquart (1986) worked as a

prison guard for nineteen months while collecting data on prison life. He was able to enter into

more sensitive aspects of guard work, particularly after he established his credibility by successfully

defending himself against an attack by an inmate. Complete participation is very similar to,

if not the same as, disguised observation, a topic which will be discussed in the next chapter.

The participant as observer is the type that most people identify as constituting participant

observation. The researcher usually makes his presence known and, although attempting not to

influence situations, tries to objectively observe the activities of the group. Most of our discussion

in this chapter will relate to this type. The observer as participant describes the one-visit interview.

Even though the interviewers may not think so, they are also short-term participant observers.

Holzman and Pines (1979) employed in-depth interviews of thirty primarily white, middle-class

"johns" and were unable to find support for the "pathology-ridden depictions of the clients of prostitutes."

Other examples involving in-depth interviews include Cressey's (1953) Other People's

Money, which involved interviews with 133 incarcerated embezzlers; Klein and Montague's (1977)

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Chapter 7 • Participant Observation and Case Studies 183

interviews with imprisoned, retired, and uncaught check forgers; and Letkemann's (1973) study of

forty-five bank robbers and burglars. The last study provided much of what criminologists know

regarding "casing" (looking over) of banks and the bank robber's dependence on uniformity of

bank design, as well as handy parking. Experimental and unobtrusive measures may be viewed as

a type of participant observation that stresses complete observation. Stein (1974), employing oneway

mirrors, was able to secretly observe and record hundreds of sessions between prostitutes and

their clients. In reality, specific studies seldom fall into any one of these categories, or "ideal types,"

and might better be viewed as falling along a continuum, as in Figure 7.1.

Henceforth, our discussion of participant observation will focus on the participantas-

observer type. It should be noted at this point that descriptions of and distinctions between

types of participant observation, field interviews, and unobtrusive measures become somewhat

arbitrary at times and that what one writer might call participant observation another might

view as a type of interview or unobtrusive measure. Some studies are examples of more than

one method; for example, an experimental design may be employed to conduct a simulation

that involves disguised observation in which subjects are interviewed.

CHARACTERISTICS OF PARTICIPANT OBSERVATION

Perhaps the most distinctive qualities of participant observation are its demands on time and

personal cost. Cost here refers not to financial obligations but to personal involvement. As a

general rule, the researcher is committed to studying a group for a considerable period, ranging

from several weeks or months to several years. Participant observers hope to understand the

frame of reference of the group they are studying. This is done by joining the group in their

normal activities to experience things as they do. In doing so, the researcher may temporarily

become a "different person" (Weinberg and Williams, 1972, p. 165).

The observer must attempt to operate mentally on two different levels: becoming an insider

while remaining an outsider. The observer cannot be so far "inside," or socialized into the group,

that everything seems so normal as not to be worth reporting. By the same token, the observer

must be able to report patterns of behavior and interrelationships objectively and without moral

bias. The role of "outsider" can be very valuable in that subjects may be willing to share important

information because she or he is an outsider. Informants may be more willing to open up to

neutral, reliable outsiders (Trice, 1970; Plate, 1975).

The researcher must avoid oversocialization, or "going native." Some become so enamored

by the new lifestyle of the group they are studying that they pass into a new identity and become

too much a part of the group. Polsky, for instance, describes how some of the "uncaught criminals"

he was studying told him that he would make a fine "wheelman" (driver of a getaway car) or

"steer-horse" (accomplice who fingers the score in a con game) (Polsky, 1967). In doing his

participant observation study of vice squads, Skolnick was asked to play a "john" (prostitute's

customer), drive a stakeout van, surveil a bar for suspects, and offer advice on the legality of an

arrest (Skolnick, 1966; National Advisory Committee, 1976, p. 131).

Objectivity in Research

The researcher must avoid not only overidentification with the study group, but also aversion to it.

The ability of social scientists to remain objective despite personal subjective bias is illustrated by

the work of anthropologists. They occasionally find some of the attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors of

the societies they study repugnant and immoral; however, they are trained not to judge, but rather to

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184 Chapter 7 • Participant Observation and Case Studies

record the meaning of these behavior patterns to the people who practice them. Famous anthropologist

Malinowski, author of Crime and Custom in Savage Society (1926), Argonauts of the Western

Pacific (1922), and other fine early studies of the Trobriand islanders, has been pointed to as a

model of objectivity. Social scientists and others were shocked in the late 1960s when

Malinowski's personal posthumous memoirs, A Diary in the Strict Sense of the Word (1967), were

released. Although personally he found the group revolting, this bias was controlled and cannot be

detected in his scholarly writings. This reflects an interesting debate in criminal justice research

wherein Yablonsky, author of such field studies as Synanon (1965a) and The Violent Gang (1962),

criticizes Polsky's view that the field researcher in criminal justice should avoid moralistic stances.

Yablonsky (1965b) feels that such a posture is going too far, whereas Polsky claims that such a

position is necessary to gain a full picture of group activity:

Until the criminologist learns to suspend his personal distaste for the values and

lifestyles of the untamed savages, until he goes out in the field to the cannibals and

headhunters and observes them without trying either to civilize them or turn them

over to colonial officials, he will be only a veranda anthropologist. That is, he will be

only a jailhouse or courthouse sociologist, unable to produce anything like a

genuinely scientific picture of crime (Polsky, 1967, p. 147).

Manning looks at this same issue from the other side of the fence, in "Observing the Police":

Does the observation, if it occurs, of brutality, harassment, incompetence, or malfeasance

obligate the researcher to reveal immediately to the policeman's superiors, or

should he overlook them and pussyfoot in the interest of completing the study? Will

a complete study have an even greater cumulative impact on the organization than

revelation of instances of wrongdoing? (Manning, 1972, p. 258).

On this same general issue, some researchers take the stance that participant observation is

obnoxious manipulation and immoral (Shils, 1961), or "psychological espionage," or necessary

deception in order to obtain needed data (Gans, 1968). Becker perhaps best stated the argument

supportive of Polsky's view of a nonmoralistic stance:

In spite of the romantic yearnings of researchers and the earnest ideological assurance

of some deviants, scientific requirements do not force us to join in deviant actions.

But our scientific purposes often require us to hear about and on occasion to observe

activities we may personally disapprove of. I think it equally indisputable that one

cannot study deviants without foregoing a simple-minded moralism that requires us to

denounce openly any such activity on every occasion. Indeed the researcher should

cultivate a deliberately tolerant attitude, attempting to understand the point of view

from which his subjects undertake the activities he finds distasteful. Amoralism that

forecloses empirical investigation by deciding questions of fact a priori is scientifically

immoral (Becker, 1978a, p. 99).

"Going Native"

Soloway and Walters, in discussing ethnographic fieldwork, state the point succinctly: "Approaches

must be found to avoid the dilemmas and pitfalls of a facile and unconstructive ‘hipness' on the one

hand and stagnating righteousness on the other" (Soloway and Walters, 1977, p. 176).

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Chapter 7 • Participant Observation and Case Studies 185

Perhaps an even more common outlook resulting from close contact with a new group over

a sustained period is the tendency of observers to over-identify with groups. There are examples

in the literature of an anthropologist who married a cannibal chief and of other individuals who,

without being aware of it, have taken on the mannerisms of the groups they have studied. "Going

native" is a situation in which the researcher identifies with and becomes a member of the study

group and in the process abandons his or her role as an objective researcher. Toby (1986, p. 2)

attacked criminologist John Irwin for a speech he gave before the American Society of

Criminology, accusing him of romanticizing criminals:

Irwin talks about prisoners as though all of them are victims of an oppressive society.

And, in an aside to emphasize his point, he alluded to his personal history. (As is

well known in the profession, Irwin served a prison term before becoming a criminologist.)

Of course, John Irwin is not alone among criminologists in romanticizing

criminals, in seeing virtue rather than moral flaws in offenders. And I can well

understand that a person who has himself served time in prison is aware of decent

people, who, through adverse circumstances, committed crimes, were convicted

and were sentenced to incarceration. I can even understand criminologists, who,

like Edwin Sutherland, get to know and become quite attached to professional

criminals. However, loving the man and hating the fault is quite different from

denying the existence of the fault because criminals are human beings. . . .

I think of criminology as a discipline. By "discipline" I mean more than

subject matter. I mean that we ought to restrain impulses, including benign impulses,

that prevent us from seeing the world realistically. Just as anthropologists cannot be

trusted (intellectually) when they go native to the extent that they glorify rather than

study their preliterate societies, so a criminologist who has gone native cannot be

trusted to tell us what criminals are like.

In 1999, a researcher at John Jay College of Criminal Justice was removed from a Health

and Human Services-sponsored research project and was accused of using as well as buying

heroin for his research subjects. Allegedly he gave some junkies heroin as an incentive for granting

interviews (Schneider, 1999).

GENERAL PROCEDURES IN PARTICIPANT OBSERVATION

There is no one and only method of participant observation. There exists continual debate among

field researchers themselves regarding specific operations; however, a core of customary procedures

have accumulated with which researchers would not radically disagree, although they may

on specific points.

McLuhan (1989, p. 167) whimsically stated that "the last person to ask how the water is

is a fish." This is his way of suggesting that it is generally not a good idea to attempt to study

a group in which one has been a lifelong member. First, the researcher is too far immersed in

the culture to maintain objectivity. Second, the members of the group get to know the

researcher too well and may often be unwilling to treat him or her as a researcher. The old

speaker's rule of thumb holds that one must travel at least 100 miles from home grounds to be

regarded as an expert.

"Going

native"

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186 Chapter 7 • Participant Observation and Case Studies

Field Notes

One important practice that is essential in field studies is the keeping of extensive and detailed

field notes or diaries. Webb et al. (1966, p. 196) state that "the palest ink is clearer than the best

memory." Initial participant observation is often exploratory, and presumably, the researcher

does not fully understand the culture of the group. Thus, it is necessary to take complete notes

on as many details as possible, even those that appear trivial, because it may be these very

"unimportant details" that later provide the key to some important facet of the study. A good

investigator records observations as often as possible and does not rely upon memory. As much

importance and time should be allotted to recording observations as to participating, observing,

and gathering such information. The participant observer, unlike the vacationer, cannot tell the

reader that "you just had to be there to appreciate what I am telling you."

Berg claims that there is a 4:1 ratio of field-note writing to time in the field (Berg, 2007,

p. 156). Novice field researchers in particular may wish to limit their initial time spent in

actual fieldwork in order to assure that they will have the time and energy to put together

quality field notes.

"Word crunching" (Dennis, 1984), the use of computers in qualitative analysis, has increased

tremendously. Software programs such as Ethnograph (Tesch, 1990, 1991) are quite popular, as is

the adaptation of standard software packages such as Lotus 1-2-3, Gofer, HyperCard, WordStar,

and WordPerfect (Berg, 2007, p. 32). Word searches in WordPerfect, for example, can be utilized

for content analysis purposes (Fielding and Lee, 1991).

Mnemonics

Often it is unwise or impossible to record notes on the spot. It may, however, be crucial that

one be able to reconstruct in exacting detail much of what has taken place. Skilled

researchers train themselves in an ancient art used by preliterate tribes to pass down word for

word their traditions. Most are familiar with the closing chapter of Alex Haley's Roots (1976)

in which Haley, after asking the tribal elder whether a Kunta Kinte ever lived in this village,

received no direct answer. Instead he had to listen hour upon hour to an oral recitation of the

chronological history of the tribe until the wise one mentioned the sought-for information.

Using mnemonics, a system of memorizing, the elder was merely using his mind as a vast

computer memory bank and effortlessly providing an extensive oral printout of information.

We have all used mnemonic devices. In elementary school, "ROYGBIV" for the color spectrum,

"every good boy does fine," and "FACE" for the musical scale, and poems to remember

spelling or calendars, all provide useful tools for remembering. Anagrams (words or names),

first letters of important lists, caricatures, and mental associations all permit later recall,

reconstruction, and recording of important information.

The recording of detailed notes on a dictaphone and their later transcription can be effective,

although this method may prevent the researcher from thinking through the material and may

yield huge transcripts that must be boiled down.

Other Recording Methods

Sanders (1977), in a participant observation study of detectives, quickly realized that taking

notes made his subjects nervous. He cut down on this practice and began to leave the notebook

open in the detectives' offices when he left each evening to show he had nothing to hide. Later he

ceased taking notes on the spot altogether and used the time for relaxed observation to improve

Mnemonics

Field notes

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Chapter 7 • Participant Observation and Case Studies 187

rapport. Sanders also took photographs to improve recall. These acted as a second type of field

notes (Sanders, 1977, p. 200). Certainly, in the proper circumstances, tape recorders, videotapes,

films, and other mechanical aids can greatly improve recall. Nevertheless, such devices must be

used with caution or perhaps not at all if the subject matter is criminal activity, although they

have successfully been employed with this group also (Klockars, 1977, p. 210; Sherizen, 1976).

Visual Criminology

The use of photographs in field studies has a long tradition, particularly in anthropology

(Hurworth, 2003; Emmison and Smith, 2000). Classic anthropologist Franz Boas used the technique

in his study of the Trobriand Islanders. He used "photo-elicitation," in which photographs

were shown to the subjects in order to get them to talk about specific rituals. There are a variety of

other techniques that can be used. In "autodriving," the respondents themselves are asked to take

photographs and to comment on them. "Reflexive photography" involves giving respondents

cameras and asking them to take pictures that are then explored in subsequent interviews. "Photo

novella" (picture stories) are another form of photo interviewing in which taking photos gives

people a photo voice by later discussing particular needs or problems illustrated by these photos.

Such techniques encourage more detailed interviews (Hurworth, 2003; Rose, 2001). Cecil Greek

(2005) describes visual criminology as using photography as an ethnographic research method in

criminal justice settings. Photographs can also be used for news media (crime photojournalism

and war crimes photography) and for the collection of evidentiary forensics and other legal material.

He views visual criminology as a useful supplement and alternative to the dominant research

paradigm of combining mathematics and text in academic criminology.

Whether the researcher is aware of it or not, a newcomer to a group is assigned a role by

the old members. He or she is viewed as a potential, if not actual, disturbance. Generally, it takes

some time before the newcomer is accepted to the degree that the group becomes less suspicious

and begins to act more naturally. Usually, the smaller the group, the greater the potential disturbance

introduced by the researcher; however, the longer the participant is present, the less the

disturbance over time because he or she is eventually accepted by the respondents.

TIPS ON PARTICIPANT OBSERVATION

In a classic statement on participant observation in criminology, Polsky (1967) offers some tips

on studying criminals in their natural environment. He suggests that one should keep in mind that

the subject is in greater jeopardy as a result of being studied in the field than is someone in jail.

The researcher is more of an intruder and the subjects are certainly freer not to cooperate.

In studying criminals on their "turf," researchers should avoid taking notes on the spot and using

standard data-gathering tools such as questionnaires or tape recorders. Initially, they should

spend their time observing and listening and avoid asking a lot of questions (Spradley, 1970).

The researcher's middle-class language styles and probing may prove irritating to subjects.

William Foote Whyte, in Streetcorner Society, was never able to do an entirely successful analysis

of the rackets in Cornerville because he blew an opportunity with a racketeer to whom he had

been introduced (Whyte, 1943):

One has to learn when to question and when not to question as well as what questions to ask.

I learned this lesson one night in the early months when I was with Doc in Chichi's

gambling joint. A man from another part of the city was regaling us with a tale of the

Participant

observation

of criminals

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188 Chapter 7 • Participant Observation and Case Studies

organization of gambling activity. I had been told that he had once been a very big

gambling operator, and he talked knowingly about many interesting matters. He did

most of the talking, but the others asked questions and threw in comments, so at

length I began to feel that I must say something in order to be part of the group.

I said: "I suppose the cops were all paid off?"

The gambler's jaw dropped. He glared at me. Then he denied vehemently that

any policemen had been paid off and immediately switched the conversation to

another subject. For the rest of the evening I felt very uncomfortable.

The next day Doc explained the lesson of the previous evening. "Go easy on

that ‘who,' ‘what,' ‘why,' ‘when,' ‘where' stuff, Bill. You ask those questions, and people

will clam up on you. If people accept you, you can just hang around and you'll

learn the answers in the long run without even having to ask the questions" (Whyte,

1943, p. 303).

These suggestions need not be limited to studying deviants, but apply to much field

research in general. As an American Fulbright scholar in Uruguay, Smykla (1989, p. 29)

described how his initial involvement entailed "inoffensive social interaction." This wins the

subjects' confidence, identifies important contacts and who has the most prestige and insight,

and permits the researcher to learn the words and symbols that will elicit response without

forcing the researcher's own agenda and preconceptions.

Gaining Access

Polsky advises that one learn the "argot" (specialized jargon) of the group being studied but

avoid overusing it or trying too hard to be an insider. Initial introductions to criminals in the field

may be gained by frequenting their haunts or sharing other common recreational interests.

Becker (1963) recommends cabdrivers, reporters, bartenders, and cops as good sources of information

on deviant hangouts, although his avenue to studying drug users was his performance in

a jazz band. Polsky (1967) was very adept at playing pool, whereas Bryan (1965) was a counselor

and gained access to other prostitutes through one of his clients who was in the trade. Some

criminals spend a lot of time in court. Talese was successful in establishing contact with Bill

Bonanno during a trial recess. Initially, he simply indicated that "Someday, months or years from

now, I would like to sit down with him and discuss the possibility of writing a book about his

boyhood" (Talese, 1971, p. 13). After many months Talese began to establish contact with young

Bill and his family, although at first the family was suspicious and skeptical:

Nor did I question them: I was sensitive to the situation and at this juncture I was

more interested in the domestic atmosphere and the style of the people than in

specific information. I was content to observe, pleased to be accepted. At night, after

I returned home I recorded (Talese, 1971, p. 501).

Becker (1978a) suggests various strategies for studying deviants. If previous status

provides access to deviant groups, it should be taken advantage of. Ianni and Ianni were able to

gain cooperation on the basis of mutual ethnic identity (Ianni and Ianni, 1972). Tewksbury and

Gagne (2006, p.56) suggest the following roles to gain entry: knowledgeable insider, potential

participant, marginal member, emphatic outsider, and knowledgeable outsider working with a

knowledgeable insider.

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Chapter 7 • Participant Observation and Case Studies 189

If access is totally lacking, begin with incarcerated individuals. If the type of deviance being

studied is prevalent, subjects may be obtained from larger samples of the population. Steffensmeier

(1986, p. 1) describes how he first decided to undertake his study of The Fence, "Sam Goodman":

I first met Sam Goodman, a white male, nearly sixty years of age, through the

recommendation of several burglars I had been interviewing as part of a research

project on the topic of female criminality. "Talk to Sam," they advised, "He's an

‘old head,' knows his way around if anybody does." I did interview Sam-in

January of 1980 in the Midstate Penitentiary where he was serving a three year term

for stolen property. During this interview, in questioning Sam about the types of

crimes women commit and the criminal roles they play, I found my interest shifting

to questions about Sam himself, his life and his colorful criminal career. Since then,

I have regularly interviewed and studied Sam, even after his release from prison in

the summer of 1981 and on into the present time. [In 1994, Sam passed away, but

not before contacting Steffensmeier and having him visit.]

Advertising for subjects in periodicals geared to their interests has been successfully

employed (Lee, 1969; Hamm, 1993). Finally, the offering of services that deviants need or

cannot readily obtain elsewhere may induce them to reveal themselves. Bryan, for instance,

offered counseling services to prostitutes (Bryan, 1965; Becker, 1978a; Johnson, 1990).

Cromwell, Olson, and Avary (1991) gave a stipend of fifty dollars for each active burglar referred

to their study of thirty active (uncaught) burglars. In addition, confidentiality and anonymity

were promised in encouraging respondents to reconstruct their past burglaries as accurately as

possible. Such insider accounts are very useful in acquainting researchers with the perspectives

of the subjects (Cromwell, 1996). Exhibit 7.1 describes gaining access in a study of skinheads.

In 2008, the Pew Center on the States reported that more than one in 100 American adults

was incarcerated, the largest per capita rate in the world. This fact makes research on what is

taking place in such settings even more imperative. Scholars who undertake ethnographic research

in prisons complain of growing hurdles to doing such investigations. These include suspicious

wardens, state approval boards, and institutional review boards that can greatly slow down the

process (Glenn, 2008a). Britton (2003), author of At Work in the Iron Cage: The Prison as

Gendered Organization, suggests that scholarly research be proposed that can help wardens with

practical problems in their prisons. Trulson, Marquart, and Mullings (2004) provide guidelines for

those attempting to gain entry to hard-to-access places such as prisons. This includes not just gaining

access, but also maintaining access. Before the late 1970s, researchers gained entry to prison

settings on the basis of employment (Clemmer, 1940; Goffman, 1961; Irwin, 1985; Carroll, 1974;

Marquart, 1986) or a relationship with a connected person (Sykes, 1958; Jacobs, 1977). Since that

time, gaining entry to correctional environments has become more complicated.

Human subject consent, institutional research boards, and issues such as researcher liability

and institutional litigation made entry more difficult. Trulson, Marquart, and Mullings (2004,

pp. 477-479) provide ten tips for "breaking into prisons" and other criminal justice organizations:

1. Get a contact.

2. Establish yourself and your research.

3. Little things count, such as being on time and showing up when it is convenient for them,

not you.

4. Make sense of agency data by keeping in contact.

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190 Chapter 7 • Participant Observation and Case Studies

5. Deliver competent, readable reports on time.

6. Request to brief the agency and give a formal presentation of your findings.

7. Write a personal thank-you note to everyone involved.

8. Deal with adversity by planning ahead.

9. Inform the agency of data use, including providing copies of the publication.

10. Maintain trust by staying in for the long haul and keep in contact.

EXHIBIT 7.1

American Skinheads: The Criminology and Control of Hate Crime

Entering the world of violence, hate, and racial

paranoia of skinhead subculture, "idiots with ideology,"

invloves more than the usual challenge to field

researchers. Similar to that of other field investigators

(Thompson, 1967; Yablonsky, 1962), Mark Hamm's

attempts were on one occasion greeted with violence.

He was attacked by members of the American Front at

the corner of Haight and Ashbury in San Francisco.

Kicked in the shins with a pair of steel-toed Doc

Martens was his punishment for having been seen

conversing with an Indonesian prostitute.

Hamm (1993, pp. 100-101) describes his

method:

I began to systematically collect data on

the American skinheads in the fall of 1989.

Drawing from the native field study approach,

I started the investigation by visiting various

U.S. cities where I tracked down skinheads in

their natural habitat (street corners, bars,

coffee shops, record stores, survivalist outlets,

rock concerts, and motorcycle shops). These

subjects were not hard to identify. They had

shaved heads and wore white power and/or

Nazi regalia. Two skinheads, for example, were

tattooed in the middle of their foreheads with

the mark of the swastika. To gain a broader

context for the research, I used the same

methods to interview skinheads on the streets

of Montreal, Vancouver, London, Amsterdam

and Berlin.

He simply approached these youths and

asked if they would consent to an interview in a

research project that was attempting to "set the

record straight on skinheads." No electronic devices

were used. Hamm offered ten dollars for a

completed interview. Another technique involved

getting membership lists from the underground

teen press and Tom Metzger's publication WAR

(White Aryan Resistance).

After sending letters to twenty-six skinhead

leaders promising twenty-five dollars for a collect call

telephone interview, Hamm obtained nine interviews

plus an unexpected dividend. Three additional

unsolicited leaders heard about the research, called,

and were interviewed. Nonrespondents were sent

five copies of a questionnaire and asked to fill one

out and pass the others to four other members and

they would be paid ten dollars. This produced eight

additional usable questionnaires. Using the Internet,

Hamm next logged onto the WAR board. He identified

himself as a sociologist with no axe to grind and

offered ten dollars to any skinhead who came online

and conversed. This yielded two responses. Finally,

Hamm used the prison field methods approach and

with the cooperation of authorities was able to

interview incarcerated skinheads in four states.

Hamm (1993, pp. 102-103) concludes:

In summary, then, I conducted thirty-six

original skinhead interviews using native field

methods, clandestine community agency

techniques, and prison field study strategies.

I controlled for paranoia by primarily focusing

on subcultural leaders-or core members who

are likely to display the highest rates and

severity of hate crime violence-and by

presenting myself as a sociologist operating

independent of law enforcement and

community service agencies. The early Haight

street assault notwithstanding, I experienced

no life-threatening violence.

Source: Hamm, Mark S. American Skinheads: The

Criminology and Control of Hate Crime. Westport,

CT: Praeger, 1993.

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Chapter 7 • Participant Observation and Case Studies 191

Gatekeepers

Of major assistance in gaining access to a new social world is an introduction to a gatekeeper, leader,

or person who is willing to accept the purpose of the study and vouch for the researcher's presence.

A community worker's introduction of Whyte to Doc, leader of the Norton Street Gang, made access

to Cornerville possible because Doc told everyone that Whyte was his friend (Whyte, 1943). Agar

(1977, p. 145) indicates that transfer to the street with a trusted "native" has several advantages:

1. You have a guide to the territory. You quickly learn the social spaces in the neighborhood

and the kinds of persons and activities that occupy each.

2. You have an introduction into at least some groups on-the-scene. The importance of this

cannot be overemphasized. A straight outsider is often a "mark" just waiting for a disaster

to occur. An introduction from a trusted insider immediately establishes an openness

together with certain rights and obligations as so-and-so's friend.

Walker and Lidz (1977) suggest the employment of "indigenous observers," paid

researchers from the ranks of those to be studied. Such remuneration is viewed as tangible

reciprocity, or evidence of respect; such employment helps some to improve their circumstances;

however, researchers must be certain that they are not eliciting demand characteristics or the

creation of work as a result of the pay offer.

Adler in "Researching Dealers and Smugglers" (2000) gained access to drug dealers and

smugglers by befriending a neighbor who was a member of one of the drug smuggling crew.

XXXXX XXXXX observed the neighbor at work and got to know other members of the crew and

their women. The crew advanced the author's research by serving as key informants and giving

taped interviews.

Announcement of Intentions

Polsky (1967) suggests that if researchers gain access on the basis of some common interest, for

instance, gambling or drinking, they should very early on indicate their true purpose: "do not

pretend to be one of them." Most subjects will accept the simple explanation that the researcher

is writing a book on the subject, although Orenstein and Phillips (1978, p. 312) correctly recommend

that a far more detailed explanation be given to the leaders, sponsors, or contact who must

answer for the investigator's presence.

Sampling

Because of the very nature of most participant observational studies in criminal justice, particularly

of sensitive subjects, the use of standard sampling procedures is inappropriate. Chapter 4

discusses snowball sampling as a much-used technique in field studies, in which the investigator

builds subjects on the basis of faith and the introductions of former subjects. This further

reinforces the necessity of being "up front" with key contacts.

Reciprocity and Protection of Identity

Reciprocity involves a system of mutual obligations. The research subjects help the investigator;

now what is owed them?

Reciprocity would entail that the researcher permit the subjects to study him or her by

answering questions they may ask. Of great importance in participant observation, particularly of

criminals in the field, is protection of the identity of informants. Most researchers use pseudonyms

(aliases) to shroud the actual names of the subjects. Some of these pseudonyms have now become

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192 Chapter 7 • Participant Observation and Case Studies

legendary in criminology and criminal justice: Sutherland's professional thief "Chic" Conwell

(1937), the Iannis' Lupollo organized crime family (1972), and Klockars' professional fence

Vincent Swaggi (1974). Related to this issue is the need for researchers to decide beforehand the

degree to which they wish to be privy to criminal activity. Klockars (1977, p. 214) struck a deal

with Vincent: "I also told Vincent that I would not reveal his identity unless it meant that I was

going to jail if I did not, and he told me that he really could not expect me to do more." Polsky

(1967) tells us that although a researcher should not pretend to be "one of them," he or she should

also not stick out like a sore thumb. For instance, Polsky wore short-sleeved shirts and an expensive

watch in studying heroin use and trafficking. This signaled that he was not a user since an

addict would have track marks from "shooting up" heroin and would have sold any items of value

such as a watch in order to support his or her habit.

Finally, as we will discuss later in this chapter, not everyone should attempt to gather

data by means of this technique. First, long hours of boredom may make huge demands on

time before the few things the researcher wishes to observe occur. Second, there is danger; for

instance, organized crime member Bill Bonanno was concerned with Talese's welfare during

the "Banana Wars" in New York (Talese, 1971). Polsky (1967, p. 141) tells us that "most of the

danger for the field worker comes not from the cannibals or headhunters, but from colonial

‘officials.'"

Concern for Accuracy

Participant observers should, where possible, employ other methods to further validate findings.

The Iannis developed a pecking order or scale that they used to assign validity to the data they

gathered (from highest to lowest):

1. Data gathered by direct observation where we were participants.

2. Data gathered by direct observation where we were not direct participants.

3. Interviews which can be checked out against documented sources, for example, records of

arrest or business ownership.

4. Data corroborated by more than one informant.

5. Lowest priority is assigned to data gathered from only one source. In addition, informants

were graded from "always reliable" to "unreliable" (Ianni and Ianni, 1972, pp. 188-189).

Similarly, Steffensmeier, in The Fence: In the Shadow of Two Worlds (1986, pp. 4-6),

indicates the following validity checks:

1. The interview format provided a cross check: did the second, third, and fourth interviews

all say the same thing? Some interviews were also tape-recorded and some were checked

by Sam Goodman (the subject) himself.

2. Documents such as newspapers, personal documents, court records, letters, sales receipts,

advertising, and the like were examined.

3. Observations of Sam at work were supplemented with interviews and meetings with

customers, friends, and dealers.

4. Consultation took place with police and legal officials.

5. The data were consistent with biographies and autobiographies of thieves.

Another way of verifying the accuracy of observations is to use "member checking."

This involves having participants check your report to see if you are misinterpreting or misunderstanding

anything.

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Chapter 7 • Participant Observation and Case Studies 193

EXAMPLES OF PARTICIPANT OBSERVATION

This writer's personal interest in participant observation may be related to the fact that I was an

unknowing subject in a journalistic field study by James Gittings (1966) entitled Life Without Living:

People of the Inner City, a series of studies he conducted in the Pittsburgh and New York City areas.

Part of his study of Millvale (near Pittsburgh) was a description of a corner gang-"the bridge

boys"-with whom I occasionally had contact. From my youth, I recall a man (who, in retrospect,

I now assume was working under the cover of a caretaker at a local private girls' high school) who

would strike up conversations with us. In his book, Gittings described quite accurately local political

corruption, gambling operations, and a gang war that occurred while I was away at college. The

competing sides in the battle ironically consisted of boys this writer had grown up with in his old

neighborhood (in Pittsburgh) versus "the bridge boys" and others in his new neighborhood.

Although we have discussed a number of participant observation studies, some further

examples demonstrate the versatility of such studies. Having previously conducted a participant

observation study of a chapter of the Guardian Angels in Detroit, Albini (1986) conducted a field

study from 1983 to 1984 of all Guardian Angels chapters in the United States and Canada.

He underwent training, became a member of the organization, and patrolled with every chapter,

concluding that they were not vigilantes as some had charged. Taylor (1984) in In the

Underworld performed a two-year field study of uncaught professional criminals in the London

underworld, whereas the Adlers in Wheeling and Dealing (1985) interviewed and observed for

six years upper-level cocaine and marijuana dealers and smugglers. Sullivan (1989) spent more

than four years studying youth gangs and crime on the streets of Brooklyn, while Sanchez

Jankowski (1991) spent over ten years studying gangs in three cities (see Exhibit 7.2). Eleanor

Miller (1986) did field research interviewing sixty-four prostitutes in Milwaukee, Marquart

(1986) worked as a prison guard, and Hopper (1991) studied outlaw motorcycle gangs. Wright

and Decker in Armed Robbers in Action (1997) and Burglars on the Job (1994) conducted field

interviews with uncaught, active burglars and armed robbers.

In addition to participant observation studies of criminals and the public by Polsky

(1967), Whyte (1943), Thrasher (1927), and Humphreys (1970), a variety of such studies have

been done with the police as subjects. Kirkham (1976) in Signal Zero was a professor who

became a police officer. Reiss (1971) and Skolnick (1966) did field studies of police operations.

Numerous other examples exist in the literature, including case studies that concentrate on

fewer subjects. The sometimes humorous subjects of participant observation are represented in

such titles as "The Milkman and His Customer: A Cultivated Relationship" (Bigus, 1978) or

"The Cabdriver and His Fare: Facets of a Fleeting Relationship" (Davis, 1959).

Hate groups have also been studied. Quarles (1991, 1997) studied members of the Ku Klux

Klan (KKK), while Aho (1994) did a participant observational study of Christian Patriots in Idaho

(see Exhibit 7.3). Goldstein et al. (1990) have conducted participant observation studies of drug users

utilizing "ethnographic field stations," outposts established in the community (such as store fronts) for

the purpose of collecting data and as a setting for interaction between researchers and subjects

(Goldstein et al., 1990). Such sites facilitate the collection of longitudinal data from fairly large

samples and enhance the researcher's legitimacy in the neighborhood. Indigenous observers (people

from the neighborhood) were employed by Hagedorn (1994) to study gang members. They characterized

four types of gang members: legits, homeboys, dope fiends, and new jacks. While "legits" were

those who had matured out of the gang, "homeboys" represented the majority of African American

and Latino adult gang members who alternated between legitimate jobs and drug sales; "dope fiends"

sold drugs to feed their own habits, while "new jacks" pursued such sales as a career.

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194 Chapter 7 • Participant Observation and Case Studies

Other unusual subjects of participant observation have been Skipper's "Stripteasers"

(1979), Weinberg's "Sexual Modesty: Social Meanings and the Nudist Camp" (1968), and

Cavan's Liquor License (1966), a study of mating behavior in singles bars. It is incumbent on the

researcher using participant observation to consider some of the relative advantages and disadvantages

of the technique over other means available for gathering data. Mimicking the style of

the Chicago school, Grazian's (2008) On the Make: the Hustle of Urban Nightlife combines his

own participant observation of singles bars in Philadelphia with 811 student narratives of lies and

deceit in such nightclubs. One of the themes of On the Make is the intense emotional labor

of workers in such settings involved in maintaining jovial, flirtatious faux relationships with

hundreds of customers each week (Glenn, 2008b, p. 316).

Two recent works examine the extremes or edge of participant observation. Miller and

Tewksbury in Extreme Methods: Innovative Approaches to Social Science Research (2001) and

EXHIBIT 7.2

Islands in the Streets

From 1978 to 1989, Martin Sanchez Jankowski

conducted a participant observation study of about

thirty-seven gangs in Boston, New York, and Los

Angeles. The gangs were African American,

Jamaican, Puerto Rican, Dominican, Chicano, Central

American, and Irish, as well as gangs of mixed ethnic

origins. Jankowski's entree required two steps. First he

contacted community individuals or agencies that

worked with these gangs and arranged introductions

and subsequent meetings with gang leaders. He

simply explained to the leaders that he was a

professor and wanted to write a book, the idea of

which many found interesting. Despite a Polish last

name from his adopted father, Jankowski's Latino

ancestry eased his cooperation from Latino and

African American gangs.

Next, the gangs presented Jankowski with two

tests. To test whether he was an informant, they

committed illegal acts to see if he would turn them in

to authorities. He was on one occasion falsely accused

and physically attacked. The second test (for all gangs

but the Irish) involved what other gang observers call

a "beat down" or initiation rite. Jankowski would

have to demonstrate how tough he was when other

members would start a fight with him. Despite his

training in karate, this test created much anxiety. In

the ten years of research, he was seriously injured only

twice.

After the initial period of suspicion, the gangs

tended to forget or no longer care that he was

conducting research. He was often with them during

some risky situations and apparently handled

himself up to their expectations. Perhaps the

ultimate compliment was, "You don't look like a

professor," and/or, "You don't act like one" (p. 13).

Jankowski explains:

In sum, I participated in nearly all the

things they did. I ate where they ate, I slept

where they slept, I stayed with their families,

I traveled where they went, and in certain

situations where I could not remain neutral,

I fought with them. The only things I did not

participate in were those activities that were

illegal. As part of our mutual understanding,

it was agreed that I did not have to participate

in any activity (including taking drugs) that

was illegal (ibid.).

Jankowski carried two notebooks, a small pad,

and a larger 8 -by-11-inch pad. He would record

notes on both of these, as well as use two tape

recorders, one regular size and the other pocket size.

The latter was used to record notes during the day.

All of this was done, of course, with the gangs'

permission.

Source: Jankowski, Martin Sanchez. Islands in the Streets:

Gangs and American Urban Society. Berkeley, CA:

University of California Press, 1991.

1

2

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Chapter 7 • Participant Observation and Case Studies 195

Ferrell and Hamm in Ethnography at the Edge: Crime, Deviance, and Field Research (1998)

describe "edge or radical ethnography" or "edgework" involving researchers going to extremes if

necessary to pursue their subject matter. Such methods may be viewed by some as unethical,

dangerous, and innovative. Some examples include: Lozano and Foltz (2001), who studied a

coven of witches, while Ronai and Ellis's (2001) study of strippers involved the senior author as a

full participant. Myers (2001) studied body modification including genital piercing, branding,

burning, and cutting. Ferrell (1998) was an active participant in a hip hop graffiti underground that

he described as "illegal field research." Mattley (1998) did fieldwork with phone fantasy workers.

ADVANTAGES OF PARTICIPANT OBSERVATION

Participant observation represents a commitment to a sensitizing or "verstehen" strategy in which

the researcher attempts to actually experience the life conditions of the study group. Such an

approach generally produces less prejudgments, is less disturbing to respondents than experiments,

and is more flexible and natural than more artificial means of data gathering. Contradictions

between attitude and behavior become apparent. Being on-the-scene, the researcher can doublecheck

assumptions regarding the meaning of observations. It is an excellent means of gathering

EXHIBIT 7.3

This Thing of Darkness: A Participant Observation Study of Idaho Christian Patriots

In two works, This Thing of Darkness: The Sociology of the Enemy and The Politics of Righteousness:

Idaho Christian Patriotism, Sociologist Jim Aho

(1994, 1990) does a participant observation study

of right-wing hate groups in order to investigate

what kind of people join such groups and how

people get into and out of such affiliations. Aho's

goal was to understand these people from their

point of view by mingling with them,