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Ch11 Agency Records, Content Analysis, and Secondary Data
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Ch11 Agency Records, Content Analysis, and Secondary Data

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Maxfield, Michael G. & Babbie, Earl R. (2011). Research Methods for Criminal Justice and Criminology, 6th Edition. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing

Maxfield, Michael G. & Babbie, Earl R. (2011). Research Methods for Criminal Justice and Criminology, 6th Edition. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing

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  • Units of Analysis in Criminal Justice Data Criminal Activity Incidents Crimes violated Victims Offenders Court Activity Defendants Filings Charges and Counts Cases Appearances Dispositions Sentences Apprehension Arrests Offenders Charges Counts Corrections Offenders Admissions Returns Discharges
  • Units of Analysis in Criminal Justice Data Criminal Activity Incidents Crimes violated Victims Offenders Court Activity Defendants Filings Charges and Counts Cases Appearances Dispositions Sentences Apprehension Arrests Offenders Charges Counts Corrections Offenders Admissions Returns Discharges

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  • 1. 1Agency Records,Content Analysis, andSecondary Data
  • 2. OUTLINE Introduction Topics Appropriate for Agency Records and Content Analysis Types of Agency Records Units of Analysis and Sampling Reliability and Validity Content Analysis Secondary Analysis
  • 3. 3•Agency records, secondary data, and contentanalysis do not require direct interaction withresearch subjects•Data from agency records – Agencies collect avast amount of crime and CJ data•Secondary analysis – Analyzing data previouslycollected•Content analysis – Researchers examine aclass of social artifacts (typically writtendocuments)
  • 4. 4•Most commonly used in descriptive orexploratory•Topics appropriate to research using contentanalysis center on the important linksbetween communication, perceptions of crimeproblems, individual behavior, and criminaljustice policy
  • 5. 5•Published Statistics•Nonpublic Agency Records•New Data Collected by Agency Staff
  • 6. 6•Government organizations routinely collectand publish compilations of data •FBI, Census Bureau, BJS, Federal Bureau of Prisons, Administrative Office of US Courts •Often available in libraries and online•Ted Robert Gurr (1989) •Used published statistics on violent crime dating back to thirteenth-century England to examine how social and political events affected patterns of homicide through 1984
  • 7. 7•Agencies produce data not routinely released •Police departments, courthouses, correctional facilities, BJS: Correctional Population in the US, National Center for State Courts: Court Caseload Statistics•Child Abuse, Delinquency & Adult Arrests•Crime Hot Spots: Geographic areas and times ofday that signal concentrations of various types ofcrime•Agency Records as Measures of Decision Making •“Expect the Expected”
  • 8. 8•Collected for specific research purposes •Less Costly, More Control •“Hybrid" source: Combines the collection of new data—through observation or interviews— with day-to-day criminal justice agency activities •Need to obtain the cooperation of organizations and staff
  • 9. 9•If you use agency records, be attentive tomatch or mismatch between Units of Analysisappropriate for research question and Units ofAnalysis represented in aggregate form•You can go from individual to aggregate, butnot aggregate to individual•Sampling: Taking subsets of agency recordsis relatively simple and quite useful
  • 10. 10Criminal Activity •Incidents Apprehension •Crimes violated •Arrests •Victims •Offenders •Offenders •ChargesCourt Activity •Counts •Defendants Corrections •Filings •Offenders •Charges and Counts •Admissions •Cases •Returns •Appearances •Discharges •Dispositions •Sentences
  • 11. 11•Virtually all CJ record keeping is a socialprocess – “social production of data” •Records reflect decisions made by CJ personnel as well as actual behavior by juveniles and adults •Discretion factors in to recordkeeping•CJ organizations are more interested inkeeping track of individual cases than inexamining patterns•Potential for clerical errors due to volume ofdata
  • 12. 12•Systematic study of messages – can beapplied to virtually any form ofcommunication •Decide on operational definitions of key variables •Decide what to watch, read, listen to & time frame •Analyze collected data •As a mode of observation, content analysis requires a considered handling of the what, and the analysis of data collected in this mode, as in others, addresses the why and with what effect
  • 13. 13•First establish your universe, then your unitsof analysis and sampling frame, then sample•Communications need to be coded accordingto some conceptual framework•Choice between depth & specificity ofunderstanding: •Manifest content: Visible, surface content – similar to using closed-ended survey questions •Latent content: Underlying meaning
  • 14. 14•Reminders: •Remember operational definition of variables, and their mutually exclusive & exhaustive attributes •Pretest coding scheme •Assess coding reliability via intercoder reliability method and test-retest method
  • 15. 15•Chermak (1998) sampled all crime storiesfrom every 5th day in first 6 months of 1990– 1,557•Sought to see how content determinesallotment of space and prominence of place(inches of coverage in paper, where storieswere placed, size of headlines)•Also coded offense type, # of crimes,weapon usage, location, offender/victimcharacteristics
  • 16. 16•Thompson & Haninger (2001) sampled 55 ofover 600 E-rated games •Experienced undergrad gamer played for 90 minutes or until game reached natural conclusion •Experienced gamer/researcher and undergrad gamer reviewed videotape of videogaming session •Coded: # of violent incidents, # of deaths, drugs/ alcohol/tobacco, profanity and sexual behavior, weapon use, explicit music •Measured duration of violent acts and # of deaths to length of game playing for standardized measures
  • 17. 17•Rosenfeld, Bray, and Egley (1999): how gangmembership might facilitate homicide in differentways •Content analysis of police case files for homicides in St. Louis over a 10-year period •Gang-motivated killings: Resulted from gang behavior or relationships, such as an initiation ritual, the ‘throwing of gang signs, or a gang fight •Gang-affiliated homicides: Involves a gang member as victim or offender, but with no indication of specific gang activity
  • 18. 18•Data collected by other researchers are oftenused to address new research questions•Sources: websites (BJS, NCVS, ICPSR,NACJD), libraries•Advantages – cheaper, faster, benefit fromwork of skilled researchers•Disadvantages – data may not beappropriate to your research question; leastuseful for evaluation studies (which aredesigned to answer specific questions aboutspecific programs), validity