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Sunday, January 11, 2015

Environmental Criminology

  • What is the research question used by the authors?

They contend that environmental criminology can be advanced by utilizing self-report studies, such as street-intercept interviews and focus group interviews, in addition to official police records.
  • What are the advantages of the authors' chosen methodology for the study in the article?
By focusing on smaller areas, some problems are avoided such as applying the characteristics of a neighborhood or a community to the issues faced by a block or a family, This becomes important in that the hot=spots of crime are centered on small areas. The researchers feel that“ the social and demographic characteristics of local residents are generally stronger predictors of criminality at specific locations than are the physical characteristics of the environment”(Rosenbaum & Lavrakas, 1995, p.288)
  • What is the value added to research that uses the authors' methodology?
By focusing on small areas, they hope to use non-conventional methods, including surveys with “relatively small sizes” (1995, p.295) to gather data that can be “analyzed to develop a detailed case study, based on both quantitative and qualitative information”(Rosenbaum & Lavrakas, 1995, p.308) In the authors' words they feel that there are two contributions:
(1)by advancing our knowledge of the social processes that operate in specific locations;
and (2) by contributing to the development and evaluation of new anti-crime policies and programs directed at these locations.
(Rosenbaum & Lavrakas, 1995, p.308)
  • What are the challenges and shortcomings of the techniques used by the authors such as survey and interview methods?
Telephone surveys can miss households; the likeness (heterogeneity) of the target population; the sizes of the population and of the sample; non-response;poorly worded surveys; bias within the survey; the cost of performing a survey; these are all potential pitfalls of a survey.
There is also a problem with how the results of surveys are interpreted and that isn't discussed in this study: In 2008, I did not think that Obama would be elected as I was looking primarily at AOL polls; their polling had been more accurate then polling by the news agencies for the previous elections I had monitored. However, AOL skews to an older population, young people turned out in much higher numbers, and AOL's polling results did not match reality for that reason.
  • How might you incorporate surveys and interviews with geographical analysis in your own research?
I don't see an application of this technique that would aid my research; I will be looking over already collected data and comparing situations. If I conduct interviews, they will targeted at individuals who can explain some of the reasoning behind decisions made, not of random samples.
Rosenbaum, D, & Lavrakas, P. (1995). Self-Reports about place: The application of survey and interview methods to the study of small areas. Crime Prevention Studies, 4: 285-314. Retrieved July 30, 2014 from http://www.popcenter.org/library/crimeprevention/volume_04/13-Resonbaum.pdf


One of the arguments the researchers presented for using smaller samples then are usually considered statistically "valid" was to avoid sampling outside of the actual "hot spot" of crime; for their purpose, they felt that taking sample responses from outside the area created an error in accuracy.

 The researcher should always be aware that the interviewee might be lying for a variety of reasons; as you said, to avoid culpability for criminal or embarrassing acts.  Another reason might be to inflate the subject's importance by taking credit for things that weren't done, or by assuming a reason for the action that would be considered valid after the act, as opposed to making a decision that luck validated.

A question that arose for me from your response: does criminology/criminal justice research collect police interviews/interrogations as data and develop "survey" responses?  A very quick bing search is giving me nothing but studies regarding the process of police interrogations.  I may be using the wrong search terms.
 Do you know where the term A-1 came from?

Once upon a time, military intelligence evaluated information on a 2 factor scale; A-E was the range for the reliability of a source, with a score of A representing the most trusted source; 1-5 was the range for the likelihood that the information was accurate, with a score of 1 indicating that the intelligence had been corroborated with another source( so if you got a report that a German tank division was running amok in Chicago during WWII, you would judge that to be a 5, not a likely event)

I can't source this because I lost the book I got this from, a US Army WWII era guide to military intelligence.  But it does match your suggestion for scoring interviews!

There is another explanation, which probably fits the usage better:
"Lloyd’s, a British company that insured ships, coined the term. Before any ship was insured, the company inspected it and then rated it. The letters A, E, I, O and U were used to indicate the condition of the hull of the ship, and the numbers 1, 2, 3, etc. were used to indicate the state of the equipment (cables, anchor, etc.) on board. If the ship was rated A1, it meant that both the hull and the equipment were in excellent condition"

Yes, I believe that kind of matrix would help in the weighting I would give the information developed in interviews.  I'd give a Klan informant or a Congressman less credibility than I would a field agent of the FBI, for example.

I think I would still include all the information as part of the study, but I would have a formal method for explaining why I didn't take some of the information with as much credibility.


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