Criminal Justice Research Methods Assignment Instructions
Identify and describe five scientific methods of research inquiry and how you would apply them to a research Project. Be sure to provide examples. Develop a hypothesis focused on the professional practices of criminal justice practitioners.
An example of a hypothesis would be: You could propose a hypothesis that focuses on whether law enforcement is better equipped to handle terrorism post 9/11 or whether airline safety has improved since the attacks of 9/11, etc.
Then select two methods of inquiries and how you would apply them to your hypothesis to reach a conclusion.
Scientific Methods of Research Inquiry In Criminal Justice
Research provides a way in which problems are understood, helping to inform policy decisions and thus providing solutions to the problems under consideration (Kleck, Tark, & Bellows, 2006). Regardless of the type of research, for objective answers to be provided and to inform appropriate policy decisions, research must be conducted in a certain way. The scientific method of research provides techniques for inquiring phenomena to make objective conclusions.
Scientific Methods of Research Inquiry
Research process often begins with an inquiry about particular phenomena. Inquiry refers to the rational process of seeking the truth or ending a doubt (Dantzker & Hunter, 2005). Scientific research inquiry can be explanatory, descriptive or predictive. In performing scientific research inquiry, a number of methods can be adopted.
The first method of scientific research inquiry is the process of problem identification. According to (Vito, Kunselman, & Tewksbury, 2008, p. 8) research inquiry process begins with the identification of the concern, and the subsequent test of the statements that surrounds it. The common ways in identification of the problem are through the induction and deduction. According to the authors, induction involves the use of information collected to make observations and provide a proof that a problem exists. The deduction process involves the use of a theory to explain a research problem and providing a solution to its. An example of problem identification is a research on local gang crimes in the neighborhood. The identification of the problem can be done using local police crime records. The police records can help to determine the problem for study. For instance, the records can reveal a prevalence of armed robberies. The technique will provide a way of inquiring into the nature of the problem.
The second method of scientific inquiry is asking of a question. The purpose of asking a question is to define the problem or issue under investigation. According to (Dantzker & Hunter, 2005) asking a general question is the best way of starting an inquiry into the issue under study. Asking questions can be done with the help of W’s and H’s. The questions can take the form of “how” “why” and “why”. For example, a research on drug trafficking can begin with the question: “why does drug use occur, for what purpose and how is it being done?”. Such questions are critical in narrowing down to specific research topic on the issue.
The other method of scientific research inquiry is the hypothesis. A hypothesis is a proposed solution to a problem, a supposition that is made on limited evidence, which serves as a starting point for problem solution. It acts as a tentative guess on what the outcome would actually be. For hypothesis to be considered scientific, it must have the ability to be supported or refuted in a carefully crafted observation or experimentation (Weisburd, Mason, Fairfax, & Britt, 2014). In addition, a well stated hypothesis should include a prediction and must be tested severally for different types of scientific researches.
Hypotheses are of two types, for every null hypothesis; there is a corresponding alternative hypothesis (Weisburd, Mason, Fairfax, & Britt, 2014, p. 129-132). Hypothesis testing can be used in the study of attitude towards support among the probation officers in the correctional faculties. Since hypothesis is tested on two samples, the first step is to ask general questions. For example, are experienced criminal justice officers more supportive than those who do not have prior experience? Is there any major difference in the levels of support between the experienced rehabilitation officers and those who do not have prior experience? More testable hypotheses would be:
H0: Probation officers with prior experience are less supportive compared to those without prior experience.
H1: There is no statistically significant difference in the attitude towards support from the experienced rehabilitation officers and those without prior experience.
The third scientific method of research inquiry is the use of experiment. Experimentation is the process of conducting a test to prove and receive an outcome. According to (Blakstad, 2008) experimentation provides an opportunity where the scientific hypothesis is tested. The author further notes that the process of experimentation is achieved through a manipulation of the independent variable of the research phenomena. With a formalized hypothesis, variables to be tested will be determined. The process of repeated testing of variables through experimentation will provide information on whether to reject or accept the proposed hypothesis.
For example in the hypothesis; H0: Probation officers with prior experience are less supportive compared to those without prior experience, the variables could be the levels of support and experience of the probation officers. Making several experiments that involves the two variables will give an outcome that will test the hypothesis. The results of the experiments will inform the decision to discard or adopt the hypothesis.
The fourth method of scientific research is the data analysis. Data analysis refers to the process of organization and review of quantitative or qualitative information collected for the purposes of review. Data represents the research information collected during the experimentation by varying the study research variables in the field. For the purposes of demonstration of data collected in the research process, graphs, charts and even pictures are often used. According to (Dantzker & Hunter, 2005) data analysis is often performed with the help of computers and software programs such as the SPSS. The results of data analysis are given in form of statistical representations.
For example, the data about the attitudes of rehabilitation officers in the correctional facilities could be represented in form of graphs or pie charts. The data on the levels of experience and the levels of support among the officers can be collected and the results represented in form of graphs. This would provide an overview of the correlation between the levels of experience and the nature of support from rehabilitation officers in correctional centers.
Lastly, the research conclusion provides another method of scientific research inquiry. Conclusions refer to the results of the outcomes of the experiment and the analysis of data. Conclusion is often derived after the completion of the research process. It will show how the experimented and data analysis match with the research hypothesis. After the experiment has been completed, a summary of the results (conclusion) will either show whether the hypothesis was proven or not. For example in the research on the experience and levels of attitude among the rehabilitation officers, the conclusion could be that indeed experience does affects the nature and level of support towards the incarcerated individuals.
Example of Hypothesis for Criminal Justice Professional Practice
African-American offenders are more likely to become repeat offenders once they are released, compared to the white Americans. To determine whether to accept or reject the hypothesis, an experiment will be conducted among the prisoners released from prison. The variables to be chosen will be the number of white and African-American prisoners released over five years. The data will be analyzed using data analytic techniques such as statistical representations and conclusion drawn on whether to reject or accept the hypothesis.
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