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In providing your responses, use your good judgment.

While we are not looking for extremely


detailed and lengthy responses, neither are we looking for superficial answers comprised of
several sentences. The key is to provide enough detail in your responses to demonstrate you have
mastery of the subject.

A helpful summary of the key components of a typical research process is contained as an


Appendix to these assignments. You can find the Appendix below the assignment.

Instructions:

A criminal justice researcher conducts a research study and finds that individuals who were
raised by both parents throughout childhood report greater levels of career success later on in
life than individuals who were raised by only one parent throughout childhood.

Here is how the researcher conducted his study: He places an ad online on the internet in a
local ad website. The ads says that he is seeking volunteers for his study, and that he is
looking for people who were either raised by one parent or both parents to participate. He
pays the participants $10 each. He has them answer a series of questions about their later
career success in life. His data show that individuals who were raised by both parents, on
average, had higher career success scores than individuals who came from single-parent
homes. A Virginia Times reporter learns of the study by reading an academic journal and
writes a newspaper article entitled Raising a child with both parents will do wonders for
your child's future career success!

(no specific length requirement for your answers)

a. From the perspective of research methodology, what is wrong with the newspaper
reporters title? Explain your answer.

b. Critique the methodology the researcher used to collect data. In doing so, describe both
strengths and weaknesses. In providing you response, be sure to touch on concepts
covered in this course, including: external validity, prediction, randomness of sample,
causal links, and biases of self-reporting.

c. Lets say the researcher identifies 600 people who express interest in participating in the
study. He determines that having a sample of 300 participants is adequate to give him
valid results, so he can winnow down the number of participants. What criteria should he
establish in identifying who should be included in the study?

d. Propose a hypothetical longitudinal cohort study to properly test the question: Does
being raised by two parents cause career success? Would a researcher be able to conduct
this study? Why or why not?

What would you (an informed research student) conclude about the researchers study on
parental status while growing up and later career success?
APPENDIX

This Appendix offers a quick summary of the steps and components of a typical research
project. It is offered to provide you with an informal overview of what research efforts usually
entail.

Conceptualization: This is where you conceptualize a problem in the criminal justice realm and
think up reasons why this problem may exist. You should start with a problem statement. The
emphasis is on gaining some sort of empirical evidence to back up your findings. What concepts
are you trying to study?

Generation of a Hypothesis: This is your particular educated guess and stance on the issue. You
are stating an outcome that you believe in but that has not been proven with data as of yet. You
are hypothesizing that there is a particular relationship or association between at least two
variables. Remember, the Null Hypothesis is that there is NO statistically significant relationship
between the variables. You are always trying to REJECT the Null Hypothesis so that your
Hypothesis will gain credibility due to the careful observations. You want the resultant findings
to back up your hypothesis but you need to remain objective and open to different results that
you may not have expected.

Operationalization: This is where you determine how to make your constructs and variables
real through data collection. This can be done in different ways. For example:

Through interviews, where you talk directly to people to obtain data


Through questionnaires, where subjects provide data by responding to written questions
Using unobtrusive measures that indirectly measure what you want to assess, e.g.,
identifying the most actively visited areas in a museum by determining which area had
the most frequent replacement of floor tiles
Through experimental observation, where you conduct an experiment that generates data
Through content analysis, where you count how often specific words are used, e.g., How
often does Politician A mention moral decay in his written and spoken communications
Through data collection from published data sources, e.g., crime data published by the
Justice Department

Variables: Name your independent and dependent variables. The independent variable(s) is
what you expect will have an influence on the outcome of the dependent variable(s). You must
name your UA (Unit of Analysis). Your variables can be nominal, ordinal, or interval/ratio.
Nominal data are considerations such as Male/Female, Married/Not Married, White/Black.
Ordinal data are rank-ordered considerations, such as likely/somewhat likely/not very likely,
often/somewhat often/ not very often, tall/medium height/short, strong/normal strength/weak,
like/somewhat like/dislike, age 10-15/ age 16-20/ age 21-25, 1-5 years stay/ 6-10 years stay, and
so on. Interval/Ratio data are considerations such as exact age (15 years old), exact height (5'9"),
exact weight (165 lbs.), # of criminal incidents (4), # of years spent in prison (15), yearly income
($40,000/year), etc.
Real World Observations (see Operationalization above): Discuss how you will make your
observations in the real world. How will you accumulate your date for statistical observation?
You must choose a realistic data collection method. If your data consists of the attitudes of
Chiefs of Police of various police departments, you must answer how you will realistically gain
access to these Chiefs of Police since they are not easily approachable. You can also choose to
utilize official records such as arrest records, court records, jail records, school records,
government records, etc. Another important avenue for criminal justice researchers is data from
the NIJ (National Institute of Justice). Also, from your studies you should recall other sources of
data such as the UCR (Uniform Crime Reports), the NCVS (National Crime Victimization
Survey), and the NIBRS (National Incident Based Reporting System). These annual reports hold
a plethora of information that are of immense use to criminal justice practitioners.

Data Analysis: Now that you have collected your data you must determine how you will analyze
it meaningfully. You can utilize a regression analysis to look for a correlation between the
variables. You can use descriptive statistics to plot the data on a scatter plot and utilize the
findings of a correlation coefficient analysis to see if there is a positive relationship between the
data. There are many ways you can analyze and interpret the data and it is up to you on the
method you select but make sure it is appropriate for the type of data you have compiled. You
are not restricted to analyzing quantitative data. You can also focus on qualitative data, e.g.,
summarizing the history of attempts to reduce crime in a given neighborhood.

Application of the Findings: Describe some meaningful applications that can benefit from your
findings. This could deal with public policy considerations where a particular ordnance is
abolished or added. Maybe a mandatory minimum sentence is rolled back or more funding is
allocated to a particular location. The reason researchers study phenomena is so that their
findings can be put into action in a beneficial manner and this should be your focus as a criminal
justice researcher.