Research Paper: Criminal Justice Field

Pages: 15 (4874 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 10  ·  Level: Master's  ·  Topic: Criminal Justice  ·  Buy This Paper

Criminal Justice Field

Define what an experiment is and how it is useful in the field of Criminal Justice research.

Since the beginning of the discipline, quantitative methods have supplied the primary research methods for studying the division and causes of crime. Quantitative methods provide many ways to attain data that is useful to many facets of society. The use of quantitative methods such as survey research, field research, and evaluation research can help criminologists to assemble dependable and valid data. The data can be used by criminologists and other social scientists in order to make causal statements about variables that are being researched (Weisburd, 2000).

Some scholars think that experimental research is the best kind of research to use to evaluate cause and effect. It is thought that true experiments must have at least three features: two comparison groups, variation in the independent variable before assessment of change in the dependent variable and random assignment to the two or more comparison groups. Many experiments contain both a pre-test and a post-test. The pre-test measures the dependent variable before the experimental involvement while the post-test measures the outcome variable after the experimental group has received the treatment. Randomization is what creates the comparison group in a true experiment this is a powerful approach for identifying the effects of the treatment. Assigning groups arbitrarily to the experimental and comparison groups guarantees that systematic bias does not affect the assignment of subjects to groups. This is important if researchers wish to generalize their findings regarding cause and effect among key variables within and across groups (Criminology and Criminal Justice Research: Methods - Quantitative Research Methods, 2010).

Quantitative research methods are normally concerned with measuring criminological or criminal justice actuality. In theory, experimental designs supply the most dependable method in order to establish a relationship between interventions and outcomes. Yet, in practice, randomized experiments have continued a much less frequent choice for criminal justice evaluators than have non-experimental methods (Weisburd, 2000).

Define some alternative forms of data gathering strategies and discuss how they can be beneficial in social science research. In what ways might some of these reflect the assumptions associated with good experimental design?

The data needed for a social science research may be broadly classified into (a) Data pertaining to human beings, (b) Data relating to organizations, and (c) Data pertaining to territorial areas. Personal data or data that is related to human beings consist of demographic and socio-economic distinctiveness of individuals like age, sex, race, social class, religion, marital status, education, occupation, income, family size, location of the household, life style and behavioral variables like attitudes, opinions, awareness, knowledge, practice and intentions. Organizational data consist of data relating to an organization's origin, ownership, objectives, resources, functions, performance and growth. Territorial data are related to geophysical characteristics, resources endowment, population, occupational pattern, infrastructure, economic structure, degree of development, like spatial divisions like villages, cities, and the nation (Methods of data collection, 2010).

The data provide as the bases or raw materials for examination. Without an analysis of factual data, no exact inferences can be drawn on the questions that are under study. Deduction based on imagination or guesswork cannot supply correct answers to research questions. The significance, adequacy and reliability of data establish the quality of the findings of a study. Data form the foundation for testing the hypotheses devises in a study. Data also afford the facts and figures required for building measurement scales and tables, which are examined with statistical techniques. Inferences on the outcomes of statistical, analysis and tests of significance provide the responses to research questions. Therefore the scientific process of extent, analysis, testing and inferences depends on the accessibility of relevant data and their accuracy. This is why data is important for any research study (Methods of data collection, 2010).

Primary sources are original sources from which the researcher directly collects data that have not been previously collected, e.g., collection of data directly by the researcher on brand awareness, brand preference, brand loyalty and other aspects of consumer behavior from a sample of consumers by interviewing them. Primary data are personal information collected through various methods such as observation, interviewing and mailing. Secondary sources are basis that contain data that have been collected and compiled for another reason. The secondary sources consist of readily available compendia and already compiled statistical statements and reports whose data may be used by researches for their studies, like census reports, annual reports and financial statements of companies, Statistical statements, Reports of Government Departments, Annual Reports on currency and finance published by the National Bank for Ethiopia, Statistical Statements relating to Cooperatives, Federal Cooperative Commission, Commercial Banks and Micro Finance Credit Institutions published by the National Bank for Ethiopia, Reports of the National Sample Survey Organization, Reports of trade associations, publications of international organizations (Methods of data collection, 2010).

Secondary sources consist of not only published proceedings and reports, but also unpublished things as well. The unpublished category includes various records and registers that are maintained by firms and organizations like accounting and financial records, personnel records, register of members, minutes of meetings and inventory records. Even though secondary sources are dissimilar and consist of all sorts of materials, they have certain common features. First, they are convenient and readily available, and do not necessitate the trouble of constructing tools and administering them. Second, they consist of data over which a researcher has no unique control over collection and classification. Others outline both the form and the content of secondary sources. Evidently, this is a feature, which can limit the research value of secondary sources. Finally, secondary sources are not restricted in time and space. That is, the researcher using them need not have been present when and where they were gathered (Methods of data collection, 2010).

Discuss the strengths and weaknesses of using the experimental method and the strengths and resources and pick the most rigorous design possible, given those restraints.

Each type of design has its advantages and disadvantages, so be realistic about what kind of design you can implement. A post-test-only design might not produce the information you require, but quasi-experimental and experimental design studies could be too complex to perform without outside help. To manage evaluation effectively in your department, do not waste time and resources committing to a design that is beyond your capabilities or will not provide the information that you need in the end (Ward, Chibnall and Harris, n.d.).

The following are examples of strengths and weaknesses of several methods that are often used in the criminal justice field:

Post-test only - Measures one group at one time only after the treatment. It can document the reduction of a problem. It requires access to only one group at only one time. There is often no valid baseline measure for comparison and it does not allow one to assess changes from the baseline.

Pre- and Post-test- Measures one group at two different times, both before and after program completion. It provides a baseline measure and it requires access to only one group. One cannot know for certain that your program produced the change.

Pre- Post- Post-test - Measures a group at three different times, once before the program and twice after program completion. It allows one to figure out if there are any sustained effects, which result from the program. It does not show conclusively that your program produced the change; may be difficult to follow up with everyone.

Quasi-experimental - Measures two groups at two different times, before and after the program. One group does not receive the treatment program. It offers a decent level of confidence that your program caused the observed change. It may be difficult though to find two groups that are similar enough to be compared as it is more costly to have comparison groups.

Experimental -- this consists of groups whose members are randomly assigned at two different times, before and after the program. One group does not receive the treatment program. It provides the highest level of confidence that the program brought about the observed change. It is difficult to implement in a real-life setting. There are ethical issues involved with the random withholding of a beneficial program from one group (Ward, Chibnall and Harris, n.d.).

Discuss some examples of research studies employing alternative data gathering strategies.

Quasi-experimental research lacks the random assignment to experimental and control groups, but can be approximated by close and careful matching of subjects across the two groups on several key variables. The two major types of quasi-experimental designs are: (1) nonequivalent control group designs, which have experimental and comparison groups that are designated before the treatment occurs and are not created by random assignment; and (2) before-and-after designs, which have both a pre- and post-test but no comparison group. An example of a nonequivalent control group design is a study of the effect of police actions on seat-belt law violations. In one study there were two communities selected of comparable size where… [END OF PREVIEW]

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