CRM 1300 Chapter Notes - Chapter 1: Uniform Crime Reports, General Social Survey, Participant Observation

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11 Jul 2017
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Patterns of Criminality & Methods of Gathering Crime
Statistics
Criminology
- Criminological knowledge is based on science, a logical organized method of obtain-
ing information through direct, systematic observation. Scientific knowledge is based
on empirical evidence, information that is directly verifiable. (THIS distinguishes crim-
inologists from journalists - criminology stems from a body of knowledge.)
- A Research Method is a strategy for systematically conducting research.
- Concepts, variables, and measurement.
- Concepts are mental constructs that represent some part of the world, inevitably in a
simplified form.
- Variables are concepts whole values changes from case to case.
- Operationalizing a variable is the process of developing the measure to be used in
gauging a variable.
Measurements and Relationships
- Measurement requires reliability - the quality of consistent measurement and validity -
the quality of measuring precisely what one intends to measure.
- Relationships among variables.
- Cause and effect is a relationship in which change in one variable causes change in
another.
- Correlation exists when two (or more) variables are related in some way.
Relationships Between Variables
- Cause ——————-> Effect
- Independent Variable ——————> Dependent Variable
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Limitations of Scientific Research
- Human behaviour is too complex to allow criminology to predict any individual’s ac-
tions precisely.
- Because humans respond to their surroundings, the mere presence of a researcher
may affect the behaviour being studied.
- Social patterns change constantly; what is true in one time or place may not hold in
another.
- Because criminologists are part of the social world they study, objectively in social re-
search is especially difficult.
- Subjective interpretation is always an important element in criminology analysis.
Types of Research - Qualitative
The non-numerical examination and interpretation of observations for the purpose of
discovering underlying meanings and patterns of relationships.
Types of Research - Quantitative
The numerical representation and manipulation of observations for the purpose of de-
scribing and explaining the phenomena that those observations represent.
Types of Research - Survey
- Uses interviews and questionnaires.
- Is cross-sectional (compares different groups at one point in time).
- Measures attitudes, opinions, beliefs, values, and behaviours.
Limitations of Survey Research
- How do you find a representative sample?
- Will people respond to your survey?
- Will people tell the truth about their behaviour and opinions?
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Types of Research - Longitudinal
- Studies the same group (cohort) over a period pf time (ex: prisoners on parole).
- May use diaries, interviews, health, and employment records.
- Time-consuming.
- Sample attrition (people may drop out of the research).
Types of Research - Aggregate Data
- Government statistics, social indicators, uniform crime reports (UCR).
- Used to detect relationships and trends (ex: unemployment rates and property
crimes).
- Can you depend on the agencies taking the count or are they biased?
Types of Research - Experimental
- Requires willing subjects (human guinea pigs).
- Needs an experimental and control group for comparison.
- Subjects must be randomly assigned to groups.
- Seeks out cause and effect under highly controlled conditions. Typically experiments
are explanatory, that is, used to test hypotheses, unverified statements of a relation-
ship between variables.
Difficulties with Experimental Research
- Is it ethical?
- Is it realistic?
- Can you generalize from such a small group / sample?
- Can you really control all the relevant factors?
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