Content Analysis of Data Sets
Competencies Addressed in This Discussion
- Competency 4: Use a common research method of criminal justice practitioners to examine the problem statement.
Records kept by organizations such as nonpublic records for internal operational purposes can turn out to be valuable sources of data for criminal justice researchers. Additionally, there may be times when public organizations are asked to collect new data for researchers. This can be accomplished by interviews or through observation. Agencies typically use different, and sometimes unclear, units of count to record information collected about people and cases. Thus, the units of analysis represented by agency data may not always be obvious on their face. Archives and agency records may be based on units of analysis that are not suitable for particular research questions. Although it is possible to move from individual to aggregate units of analysis, it is not possible to move in the opposite direction. That said, sampling agency records is relatively simple once the units of analysis are defined. View the Crime Analyst in Action media resource (linked in the Resources) for an example of data analysis, findings, and discussion before you complete this discussion.
In Unit 7, you explored using surveys as a data source. For this discussion, review the survey data sets available through the ICPSR, using either its published directory or its Internet site (linked in the Resources). Then respond to the following in your main post:
- Identify two data sets that might be used to study a research question in which you are interested.
- State your selected research question.
- Use the information in the ICPSR reports about them to determine whether the data set contains the relevant variables you will need to answer your research question.
- Enter key words for your research question into the Find & Analyze Data search field on the ICPSR landing page. A list of studies displays in the search return.
- You can filter your results using the filters listed on the left side of the page.
- You can navigate to the main Find & Analyze Data page from the ICPSR site’s drop-down menu located in the upper right corner of the main page.
- Explore the issues of confidentiality and anonymity in terms of whether they are appropriately addressed.
- Examine whether the information provided was enough to ensure that all ethical guidelines were followed.