The paper "Methods in Criminal Justice and Criminology" is a good example of an essay on social science. Criminal justice research is a highly scientific method. The first question to be answered in the research design is what the researcher is trying to accomplish. This is basically called as the purpose of the research. The research can be done to explore a particular thing, evaluate the effects or simply describe a phenomenon. At the most basic level in every kind of research, there exists at least one independent variable and one dependent variable.
The dependent variable is generally called as the outcome variable. Quantitative research basically involves a pattern involving the study of the relationship between these variables. Once this has been done we can then go on to explore the various research methods that are available to researchers such as survey research, experimental and quasi-experimental research, cross-sectional research, longitudinal research, time-series research, and meta-analysis. Survey research consists of asking questions from a sample of respondents. These questions may be open-ended or close-ended. The survey method is generally quite efficient and inexpensive.
However, this method does suffer from problems like sampling, measurement and the overall design of the survey. Experimental and quasi-experimental researches are considered to be the best form of research for criminal justice. Experiments usually have the following three features – two comparison groups, independent variable must have some variation before we go forward and assess the changes in the dependent variable and lastly there should be a random assignment to the two or more comparison groups. Experiments may even have a pre-test or a post-test. The pre-test measures the dependent variable before the experiment and the post-test measures it after the experimental intervention has been done.
One example of this type of research is – Two police precincts that should be similar to each other are selected to study the fear of crime in their neighborhood. Both of them would be pre-tested to obtain information about the fear among the citizens. After the duration of research is over, both of them would be again post-tested to observe the change in perceptions. The cross-sectional research design involves the study of one group at a particular point in time.
It basically provides information about the particular phenomenon and tells researchers about the state of affairs. The time-series design observes a single group. This research typically analyses a single variable affecting a particular group at different points of time. This type of research is extremely beneficial in studying the impact of a new program or a new method of policing introduced in the area. An example of this will be to study the murder rate in the USA over a period of 10 years. Longitudinal research is concerned with assessing the same group over a period of time and them asses the changes that take place within the group.
Panel and cohort studies are two of the commonly used longitudinal research methods. An example of this type of research is the cohort study conducted by Marvin Wolfgang about the criminal records of all boys who were born in Philadelphia in 1945 up to the age of 18.