Content Analysis of Data SetsIntroductionRecords 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.Discussion ObjectivesThe competencies in this discussion are supported by discussion objectives.Competency 4: Use a common research method of criminal justice practitioners to examine the problem statement.Identify ICPSR data sets that might be used to study a research question.State a career-related research question.Use information in the ICPSR reports to determine whether the data set contains variables relevant to a research topic.Explore the issues of confidentiality and anonymity.Examine whether ICPSR data sets ensure that all ethical guidelines were followed.Content Analysis StrategyIntroductionIt is important during the research process that researchers, when they use data from agency records, be mindful of potential reliability and validity problems. “Follow the paper trail” and “Expect the expected” are two general principles researchers should use to guide them when using agency records in their research. Following the paper trail and expecting the expected are both actions that involve not only examining the data collected but also how it was collected. Having a good appreciation of how agency records are produced is the best way to avoid reliability and validity problems. Such problems can include clerical errors and changes in data collection procedures, social production of data (such as decisions by criminal justice personnel), agency data that are not designed for research (collected because the law requires it), tracking people rather than patterns (operational level, officials generally more interested in keeping track of individual cases than in examining patterns), and increases in error due to volume (the potential for clerical errors increases as the number of clerical entries increases).For this discussion, select a current criminal justice or crime-related topic in your professional area of interest that has been the focus of news articles. Then respond to the following in your main post:Propose a content analysis strategy for this topic using newspaper articles or editorials as your units of analysis.Draft a problem statement for your selected topic.Identify your key independent and dependent variables.Define the population selection of the units of analysis, a sampling plan, and coding procedures for your key variables. You may use an article on this topic as the basis for developing your coding procedures test.Discussion ObjectivesThe competencies in this discussion are supported by discussion objectives.Competency 2: Articulate a problem statement appropriate for examination using criminal justice research methods.Draft a problem statement for a selected topic.Competency 4: Use a common research method of criminal justice practitioners to examine the problem statement.Propose a content analysis strategy for a criminal justice topic using newspaper articles or editorials as the units of analysis.Identify key independent and dependent variables for a research topic.Define the population selection of the units of analysis, a sampling plan, and coding procedures for key variables.
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