Research Methods in Criminal Justice and Criminology

Chapter 1

Frank E. Hagan

 

Review Questions

 

  1. Name a myth or inaccurate common sense view of crime or criminal justice other than one presented in this chapter.  Indicate how research has clarified this misconception.
    1. Some misconceptions or myths would include (these are in the book) Females and the elderly fear crime because they are the most heavily victimized (this is false, victimization is higher for males and the young), Crime is rising in the United States (since the 1990’s crime has decreased).  For more refer to page 2 and 3 in the book. 
  2. Are criminology and Criminal Justice a science?  Discuss some developments that support their claim to scientific status
    1. Science is the combination of rational explanation with method, or more commonly described now as the scientific method.  Through replication and verification, scientist try to prove theories, whereas philosophers attempt to use reason and logic.  With this premise it is clear that criminal justice and criminology are sciences, for the subject matter is one of public concern and discussion.  Any layperson can discuss the criminal justice system and its problem.  In addition to this, criminal justice attempts, through experimentation, replication, verification and the scientific method to add some empirical evidence for analyzation.  As a result, the criminal justice analysts will draw conclusions from reason, common sense and data from experimentations.
  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 1960’s?
    1. 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.  It represents a reasonable and informed guess as to why things are as they appear and to explain their underlying nature and meaning.  Theory asks,: what is the point of all of this?  What does it mean?  Why are things this way?  In some way this is also called paradigms.  Although this is very important in the research of criminal justice, it is really only half of the research method.  Included in a good research is Methodology, or the facts and data to support a theory.  According to Williams in an article titled The Demise of Criminological Imagination, there are three reasons why there has been a lack of new theoretical contributions to the field since the 1960’s. 

                                                               i.        A recent lack of sociological imagination, meaning the emphasis for methodolical data has overshadowed the creation new theories. 

                                                             ii.       A critical intellectual environment, which emphasized the analysis of differences in theories, rather than the creation of new theories.

                                                            iii.      The rise of criminal justice as a discipline as a result of federal funding, which attracted the intellectual energy once used for research to the issue of crime control and efforts to improve efficiency in the field

  1. Choose a recent article and identify…
  2. What is the feminist perspective on research methods?  Why is there a need for such a perspective?  How does it differ from the malestream?
    1. Feminists perspective draws from Marxists views and advocates a methodology that differs from the dominant empiracle positivism.  They claim that this type of experimentation does not include gender, particularly women, as a central force in criminal justice.  Gender is ignored as a social variable.  They attack malestream by declaring that feminist writing should be incorporated into the mainstream of criminal justice.

 

 

Vocabulary

 

Replication:  the repetition of experiments or studies utilizing the same methodology.

 

Verification:  confirmation of the accuracy of findings or attainment of greater certitude in conclusions through additional observations.

 

Methodological Narcissism:  Substance is overlooked in the name of method.

 

Theory (pg 9):  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.  It represents a reasonable and informed guess as to why things are as they appear and to explain their underlying nature and meaning.  Theory asks,: what is the point of all of this?  What does it mean?  Why are things this way? 

 

Paradigm (Pg 10):  some implicit body of intertwined theoretical and methodological belief that permits selection, evaluation and criticism.  A model in which to view reality, by giving structure, framework and perspective from which to investigate.  In short theory.  New Paradigms replaces old paradigms, such as, Copernicuses’ theory replaced old beliefs about the location of the sun in relation to the Earth.  Addresses the questions “why”.  Only one part of what one must study when researching criminal justice.  The other part is methodology.

 

Methodology (pg 12):  the collection of accurate facts and data regarding the nature of crime and criminal justice policy.  Addresses the question “what is”.   Only one part of what one must study when researching criminal justice.  The other part is Paradigm.

 

“Broken Windows” (11):  Reread the exhibit 1.2

 

Pure Research (13) The acquisition of knowledge for the sake of science or the development of the field.  Academics are more concerned with this type of research

 

Applied Research (13):  Practical research concerned with solving immediate policy problems.  Practitioners are more concerned with this type of research.

 

Crime Analysis (18):  allows the analysts to determine who’s doing what to whom by its focus on crimes against persons and individuals.  It is a systematic analytical process designed to provide information related to crime patterns.

 

Quantitative Research (19):  the concepts are assigned numerical value.  Show correlation through numbers.

 

Qualitative Research:  (19):  the concepts are viewed as ideas or terms the enhance our understanding of a subject.

 

Verstehen (19):  German for understanding or empathy.  Researchers hope to immerse themselves in the subject matter and develop sensitizing concepts that enhance their understanding of reality.  In this case a researcher may live with a group to learn their way of life and their perspective. 

 

Positivism (19):  or a natural science approach.  It is the belief that the same research methods used for physical science can be applied to social sciences.

 

Historicism (19):  An extreme qualitative approach would provide this.  It is seeing all social events as a distinct chronicle of unique happenings.  This is antiscientific

 

Scientism (19):  This is extreme positivism and the opposite of historicism.  The researcher takes the stance that if it can not be measured it is not worthy to study. 

 

Research Shock (20):  a sense of confusion when a person is suddenly exposed with unfamiliar style of presentation and research language.  Basically, one who does not understand what a report is trying to say because the presentation and language is not common to them.

 

Researchese (20):  The language of research.  It is international language and useful in understanding the latest literature in your field.

 

Concepts (20):  abstract tags put on reality and are the beginning point in all scientific endeavors.  Concepts would include:  crime, intelligence, risk on parole, etc.

 

Operationalization (21):  Defines concepts by describing how they will be measured.  The process of operationalization quantified (put a number value to a concept)  and converted it from an abstract entity to a measurable quantity.

 

Variables (21).  Concepts that have been operationalized, or concepts that can vary or take on different quantitative values.

 

Dependent Variables (21):  The variable that one is attempting to predict.  Generally denoted by the letter Y.

 

Independent Variables (21):  The variable that causes or precedes the dependent variable.

 

Hypothesis (21):  Specific statements regarding the relationship between two variables and are derived from general theories.  A guess.

In order to understand the next few terms you must understand the Research Process described by this graph.

 

 

Theory → (Deduction), Hypothesis→ (Operationalization), Research Design → (Measurment), Data Gathering →(Analysis), Findings, → (Induction), → Theory

 

 

Deduction (23):  moving from the level of theory to a specific hypothesis

 

Induction (23):  Inferring about a whole group on the basis of knowing a few cases.

 

Steps in Research (24-25)

1.      Problem formulation

2.      Research Design

3.      Data Collection Methods

4.      Analysis and Presentation of Findings

5.      Conclusions, Interpretations and Limitations.

 

Problem Formulation (25):  May be guided by personal experiences

 

Feminists Perspective: