Survey Research


Prepare a paper describing survey research and data collection as they relate to criminal justice research. Address each of the following in your paper:
?Identify the various types of survey research utilized in the field of criminal justice.
?Explain the advantages and disadvantages of each of the following:
◦In person surveys
◦Telephone surveys
◦Computer-based surveys
◦Focus group surveys
?Describe the purpose of sampling as part of the research process.
?Identify the types of reliability and validity as they are applied to criminal justice research.
?Discuss the importance of ensuring that data collection methods and instruments are both reliable and valid.


Survey Research

Research methods are meant for providing information on people or a given phenomenon in order to explain a certain theory. This information provides an explanation on how the theory can be applied to a section of people in a population. In addition to this, the information obtained is used to test how effective a given policy or program is. Survey research, collection of data and data analysis are very important aspects of advocacy, mobilization of resources, development of important programmes, implementation of policies as well as checking on interventions.

The pieces of information collected during the survey are called data. This data can either be in qualitative or quantitative form. There are several data collection methods in criminal research justice. These include observation, interviews, personal and group surveys, filling of questionnaire among others. In addition to this, in quantitative research, data may be collected by reviewing archived data. On the other hand, in qualitative research, verbal statements detailing the processes and results are taken. Numbers are assigned to represent these pieces of information. Although both qualitative and quantitative methods are effective, a lot of emphasis is given to qualitative method in criminal research justice. (Executive Learning, 1995)

Identify the various types of survey research utilized in the field of criminal justice.

Surveys are among the most popular method of collecting data in criminal research justice. This involves having people or groups respond to questions or statements posed to them. The common types of survey research are telephone survey, interviews, mail surveys and internet survey.

Advantages of in person surveys.  One advantage is that accurate information is obtained because it is hard for a respondent to provide false information in this case. An example is answering questions about age, race and gender. Another advantage is that the researcher is able to get both verbal and non verbal ques. The researcher can be able to take note body language which can interpret the level of comfort in answering the questions. It is also easy to capture emotions of the respondent. This type of survey also enables the interviewer to keep the respondent focused which is both convenient and timely. Finally, the sample size is limited to the number of the staff available. ( Harrel et al, 2009)

Disadvantages. It is expensive to carry out in person surveys because this requires a number of interviewers who are expensive to hire. In addition to this, the quality of data collected is dependent on the interviewer’s ability. If the interviewer is not good enough, the data collected can be misleading. Another disadvantage is the fact that data is entered manually for analysis. This is expensive and time consuming.

Advantages of telephone surveys. The geographic area accessed is wide because nearly everyone owns a phone so many people can be reached. Another advantage is that it is effective in terms of cost and time. it is cheaper than other methods of data collection. There are also high response rates and data is collected rapidly with no waste of time.

Disadvantages.  The researcher or interviewer has less control over telephone surveys this means that they cannot capture the reactions and emotions of the respondents. In addition to this, the questions that are asked in this case are not complex. The telephone numbers available could be limited which means that the number of respondents is also limited.

Advantages of Computer-based surveys. It is cost effective since the overhead costs involved are less. It is also easy to conduct data collection it is input and stored electronically. It requires less time and it is convenient for the respondents. They can answer the questions at their own preferred time and pace. Lastly, there is no interviewer. The respondents do not feel uneasy while answering some questions.

Disadvantages. There is limited access to respondents since not everyone can access the internet. There is also limited sampling since e-mails and visits to websites  are not effective. There is also a possibility that people will not cooperate or they are not willing. There  data is less reliable since there is no interviewer to clarify or probe for more information.

Advantages of focus group surveys. It enables the researcher to obtain information pertaining to the group’s perceptions and views. It also saves time and money compared to personal interviews. Focus group surveys also provide a wide range of information which makes the research more effective. Lastly, the interviewer can seek clarification from the respondents which makes the data collected reliable.

Disadvantages. There is a chance that members in the group disagree or differ in opinion which can be distracting. Focus groups are not easy to manage.  Another disadvantage is that the data can be hard to analyze. In addition to this, some respondents ay feel the pressure to cooperate or agree with the popular view.

Describe the purpose of sampling as part of the research

A sample is a finite portion of a population which is studied to provide information of the properties of the population as a whole. Sampling is the technique of choosing a sample that is suitable to represent the population with the aim of determining the properties of the population. The purpose of sampling is to analyze the population and make conclusions about it using a sample. The researcher uses inferential statistics which makes it possible to know about the population by just observing the sample. Sampling can be useful in many instances like when time is a factor. When information is needed urgently, a quick research can be conducted to save the situation. Some sections of the population are not easy to access. An example is prison inmates, presidents of all the countries and such. In such instances, sampling is the most effective method because it is fast, convenient and it reduces expenses.  In addition to this, sampling can be done when studying large populations. This is cheaper than conducting a census. A sample that is carefully selected can provide more accurate information than a census.

Identify the types of reliability and validity as they are applied to criminal justice research.

Reliability is the extent to which research procedures give consistent outcomes. Test-retest reliability measures the reliability after conducting the same test twice to a group of people over a period of time. The results from the two tests can be correlated to evaluate the effectiveness of the test over time. Parallel forms reliability measures the degree of reliability after different methods of a research technique are administered to the same group of people. The results of the two methods are correlated to obtain consistent results. Inter-rater reliability measures the reliability obtained by assessing the level of agreement of different judges. Internal consistency reliability measures the similarities of results produced by applying different tests on the same item. (Carmines & Zeller, 1979)

Validity measures the degree of effectiveness of a test. Face validity checks whether the measure is in line with the intended study. Construct validity checks whether the measure is measuring what is supposed to measure but not any other variables. Criterion-related validity predicts the future or current outcomes. The results are then correlated with a certain criterion. Formative validity provides information about how well the measure improves the study in question.

Discuss the importance of ensuring that data collection methods and instruments are both reliable and valid

The instrument used to measure a variable should be reliable and valid.  There is need to obtain a high degree of internal validity in qualitative research in order to explain the statements made regarding the relationship between variables. In quantitative methods, researchers want to know if there the correlation between two variables is statistically significant. This requires a high level of internal validity when there is no validity or the data is not reliable the results are skewed. (Russ-Eft et al, 1980)


Executive Learning, Inc. (1995). Data collection methods. Brentwood, Tenn: Executive Learning.

Harrell, M. C., Bradley, M., Rand Corporation., & National Defense Research Institute (U.S.). (2009). Data collection methods: Semi-structured interviews and focus groups. Santa Monica, CA: RAND.

Carmines, E. G., & Zeller, R. A. (1979). Reliability and validity assessment.

Russ-Eft, D. F., American Institutes for Research., & National Center for Education Statistics. (1980). Validity and reliability in survey research. Palo Alto, Calif: Statistical Analysis Group in Education, American Institutes for Research.

Research Design

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