Research Methods in Criminal Justice and Criminology

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Question #1: (Review Chapter 8)

Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) program is a voluntary national data collection system which collects information on substance abuse that leads to visits to hospital emergency departments in the contiguous US. Hospitals which get tracked this system encompass short-stay, nonfederal, general hospitals with twenty-four-hour ED—representing the coterminous U S as a whole— as well as a sample of hospitals in 21 major metropolitan locations. This system similarly collects data deaths caused by drugs from nonrandom samples of medical analysis.

This data is always published yearly in different reports called DAWN Medical Examiner Data. The data collected represent one of the most used national indicators of drug use, used by researchers as well as policymakers to know the nature as well as the extent of medical consequences of drug use. The DAWN information represents information only on people who enter the emergency room for drug use.  Hence, the information reflects only the most serious drug use case. Effects of drug use that prove less severe do not get represented in DAWN system.  Additionally, data analysis needs familiarity with cases types reportable to DAWN. For instance, its emergency-room system has data on Overdose cases and people seeking Detoxification in the emergency room or people suffering from chronic drug effects. These situations do not necessarily demand emergency treatment. Hence, DAWN cases can easily reflect different phenomena as compared to medical focus. In all participating facilities, a reporter who is always an affiliate of the hospital ED or medical records staff gets assigned to carry out data collection activities. These reporters review all records for all cases appropriate to get included in the DAWN system. They also document the demographic information as well as information on the situations of the episode such as the date and ED visit time and the main reason making people come to the ED. For all drug outlined, the DAWN report entails the form of acquiring the drug, the source as well as its administration route. DAWN program only takes one reason for substances. After all the processes, the report for all cases gets submitted to SAMHSA for entry purposes.  One of the advantages of its sampling procedure is that it picks specific participants with information.  It is time-saving and less costly since it is automated in the medical system.  Its sampling also draws participant from a wider pool making it’s a representative of a wider society. The advantage of their sampling is that only people with serious drug issues and willing to go to hospitals are included in the study. Possibilities of living many participants are high.

Question #2:  (Review Chapter 9)

Let us consider a questionnaire with the following questions; does crime negatively affect the society? Does crime make victims suffer? Are some criminals dangerous to the society they stay in?  Do you think there is a need to prevent crime in the society?  From an analytical perspective, this questionnaire is totally biased from the fact that the first three questions are designed to focus on the negative aspects of crime. This situation will oblige respondents to say yes to the last question. Therefore, survey design reliability has many factors that when not well managed can lead to bad study outcomes. From critical, respondents can lack encouragement to give accurate and honest answers. They may also not feel comfortable giving answers that portray themselves in a negative manner. Respondents can also not be fully aware of their reasons for any provided answer in situations of lack of memory or boredom. Similarly, Surveys having closed-ended questions can easily have low validity rate as compared to other question types. Data errors emerging from question non-responses can also exist. The number of the people who decides to respond to the survey question can be different from those who decided not to respond. This situation ends up creating bias. Survey question answer options can also lead to unclear data from the fact that some answer options can be interpreted differently by some respondents. For instance, the answer option “somewhat agree” can represent different perspectives on diverse subjects, and have personalized meaning to each respondent.  Similarly, Yes or no answer options can become very problematic.  The reason is that respondents can answer “no” if the option “only once” is unavailable. Lastly, customized surveys can end up running the risk of containing some different errors

Question #3:  (Review Chapter 11)

Field research is one of the techniques that can make people gain knowledge.  From the strength position, field research allows researchers to get firsthand experience as well as knowledge of people, events as well as processes under study. There is no other method that gives quite the same type of close-up lens on daily life. The close-up on daily life means that researchers can get very detailed data on people as well as processes, perhaps highly detailed than they can get with other methods. Field research remains an excellent strategy to comprehend the social context role in shaping lives as well as experiences. It avails a bigger understanding of intricacies as well as daily complexities. It also uncovers elements of experiences and group interactions of which people are not previously aware.  This trait, in particular, remains unique field research strength. Other methods like interviews and surveys are inefficient in as far as expecting a respondent to answer questions that they do not know the answer is concerned. It also becomes hard for them to provide information that they are unaware of. And since field research often occurs over an extended period, social facts that seem hard for immediate revelation becomes discovered using field research project. Field researchers manage to collect very detailed data as a benefit, but they do come at a cost. Since a field research focus remains over detailed, it remains by necessity also somewhat narrow. Researchers simply fail to gather data from many individuals as a survey researcher can allow. Many field researchers usually sacrifice breadth as an exchange for depth. Field research is also time intensive. Field research is also emotionally taxing. Interview research needs, to some certain extent, the enhancement of the relationship between the researcher and the participants.  Carrying out field research on topics like shoplifting, wearing seat belts, and bars, as well as violence, can be so difficult from the fact that the researcher can easily become the perpetrator. Establishing a relationship with criminals can also lead to trouble to the researcher.

Question #4:  (Review Chapter 12)

My plan for this exercise will involve six key steps.  The first one is Selecting content for analysis. The reason is that content is always huge, and it’s rare that analyzing graffiti has so little content that I can analyze it all. I will, therefore, hope that the issue of graffiti I selected becomes a representative sample. The second step is coming up with units of content. This is to facilitate counting of content and hence, my corpus will be divided into some units that are similar in size. My third step will be preparing graffiti content for coding. Before graffiti content analysis can start, I will ensure it gets preserved in a form that allows easy analysis.  To facilitate this, I will come up with transcription of graffiti before the content analysis can start. Converting graffiti into written words into a computer file is slow and expensive, but since it is necessary, full transcription will be avoidable, without affecting the quality of the analysis.  I will, therefore, substitute transcription to content interviewing. My next step in analyzing graffiti will be content Coding (Ellis, Lee, Hartley, and Walsh 2010). This process will be same as coding answers in any survey which entail summarizing graffiti data into groups, reducing the number of different data for easy comparisons. Therefore, I will sort concepts into groups to make each group have concepts are as similar as possible to each other, and as different as possible from concepts in every other group. My next step in graffiti analysis will be counting and weighing. After preparation for content analysis is done, the counting will usually be the quickest part specially after ensuring all the data gets on my computer file and use software for the counting. Since analyzing graffiti is complex, qualitative software such as Nud*ist and Atlas TI will be my option.  The final step in my graffiti analysis will be coming up with conclusions. This will be an important part of my content analysis since I will be studying the content that was not there.  I will carry put this process using an implicit comparison. The graffiti content I will put in my analysis will be compared with the content that I or other audience expected. It can also make a comparison with another content set. The reason for comparison is that It’s I compare two corpora that content analysis becomes highly useful. I will do this either by doing two content analyses at once with different corpora but keeping the same principles or comparing my personal  content analysis on graffiti with one that other people will be have done. If I use same coding frame for both, the comparison will become much simpler.

Question #5:  (Review Chapter 13)

Some of the major advantages of completely randomized designs include the complete flexibility that is allowed.  This means that any number of treatments as well as replicates can be used. Secondly, it is relatively easy for statistical analysis, even where there is variable replicates as well as variable experimental errors for diverse treatments. The analysis also remains simple when data becomes missing. It also provides for the maximum number of degrees of freedom for error for a particular number of experimental units as well as treatments.

Some of the disadvantages of completely randomized designs are that they have relatively low accuracy because of lack of restrictions that allows environmental variation to permeate experimental error.  They are also not suited for huge volumes of treatments since a relatively large volume of experimental material is required thus increasing the variation. Under the conditions with experimental material appearing homogeneous, i.e., laboratory, or growth chamber experiments, this design is the best.  It is also good where a fraction of the experimental units are likely to get destroyed or fail to respond or in small experiments with a small number of degrees of freedom. The completely randomized design is rarely used in field experiments with randomized complete block design being consistently more accurate since there are often recognizable environmental sources.


Ellis, Lee, Richard D. Hartley, and Anthony Walsh: Research Methods in Criminal Justice and     Criminology: An Interdisciplinary Approach. Lanham, Md: Rowman & Littlefield    Publishers, 2010. Print.

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