When conducting investigation, criminology researchers possess a number of data gathering strategies at their disposal. This paper will discuss such methods as participant observation, intensive interviewing, use of focus groups, intensive case studies and life histories research strategies. Similarly, a hypothetical research project will be suggested at the end of this paper. A strategy that can be utilized in collecting data will be also suggested in the project.
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This is the most commonly applied strategy of the data gathering strategy in the study of criminology. In its fundamental level, this strategy has much to do with the process during which a researcher makes a critical observation of the behaviors shown by a group of participants in their daily actions (Hagan, 1994). It is outright that a number of important ethical and human relation issues must be observed if a researcher in criminology chooses to use this method of data gathering. The researcher ought to be quite objective. This simply means that he has to avoid anything dealing with over-identification and lots of aversion with the group he is gathering data from. Second, a researcher applying this strategy must also not become native in the group. This means a scenario where the researcher gets too close to the group and becomes its member. This poses the danger of the researcher abandoning his role and, hence, losing the objectivity that is vitally important in criminology. Participant observation has been used as a data gathering strategy is various avenues including Marquart’s study of the prison life (Marquart, 1986).
Intensive interviewing is another useful strategy in data gathering. It involves a collection of open-ended, moderately unstructured questions through which a criminology investigator seeks profoundly held information concerning the interviewee’s thoughts, mindset, or perceptions. Unlike the earlier discussed strategy, intensive interviewing does not entail methodical scrutiny of respondents in their normal setting. In a normal scenario, interviewing draws a sample of members from the general population, and interviews as many sets of samples as possible up to when saturation point is achieved. At such a point, new interviews appear to offer little supplementary information (Jacobs, 1999). This strategy can be useful in the study of active residential burglars or robbers.
This involves the researcher setting groups of people who have nothing to do with the crime committed or the crime being investigated. The researcher leads such a group into a disorganized discussion of a topic of his interest (Marquart, 1986). Usually, the criminology researcher puts forth questions and directs the discussion to make sure that the group members answer these questions. Although this method is successful in gathering data, the information collected is relatively unstructured and may take a lot of time to analyze. Generalization drawn from data gathered from focus groups is normally useful and shows consistence under normal conditions.
A case study is an in-depth study of an already identified phenomenon. As a data gathering strategy, case study utilizes illustrative cases. In fact, a lot of information in the discipline of criminology today has been gathered due to applying a case study method.
Life-history strategy entails the analysis of records, letters, biographies, and life histories in order to gather an in depth view of a distinctive or representative person (Hagan, 1994). A good example of this kind of strategy is presented in My Life in the Mafia of 1973 by Teresa.
A hypothetical project that can be researched due to this technique is stealing among minors. This can possibly be done by reading and analyzing a bibliography of a minor concerning his days in crime. In other words, life history can be used as a data gathering strategy in a project as this.
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