Research Process and Terminology
Research is one of the means for identifying if something is true or not if it applies to a certain field or category of people if it works under specific conditions. Research enables the person interested in some issues to investigate those issues explore the world and share information with others. In other words, examination of the topic can be carried out through the profound research conducted on the issue that concerns the researcher. For instance, if a researcher wants to identify the relevance of the statistical data to the analysis of population in terms of the propensity for criminal behavior, he/she should conduct research and apply the research question that bothers him/her to the actual situation. The importance of research for the identification of some issues is great due to the possibility of sharing information for optimization of further research and investigations. The educational value of research is great as well because it provides a background for further work and investigation from the scientific and educational points of view contrasted to a merely scientific approach. As claimed by Junger-Tas (2005), there was a time in the Netherlands when all-important research was done by universities (p. 143). This means that to practice can help to prove or refute a theory, claim, or assumption. At the same time, it was more appropriate to use a research to persuade someone in the correctness of ideas and the necessity of further investigations. When implemented for criminal justice, research may comprise a as well as the practical application of ideas and concepts using surveys and statistical data and different types of research methods.
Stages of a Research
Every research process should be divided into several stages that pertain to a . Criminal justice as well as all other sciences and areas of their application require a research that contains relevant methods, credible sources, appropriate techniques, and literature reviewed. In other words, a scheme of the research process should be followed. As a rule, a research is divided into the following stages depending on the research question and methods: determine the issue to be investigated (a hypothesis, theory, or a question to be answered); conduct a review of relevant literature; identify the variables (define them and indicate the way the dependent variables are influenced and the independent variables). In addition, it is necessary to edit the research question/hypothesis after reviewing the literature and determining variables; select the research method; sampling methods and control of variables should be thoroughly explained as well; description of the investigation itself; analysis of results; discussion of results indicating the limitations and possible ways of improvement and optimization; determine the significance of research findings; comparison of the results with other researches in the same field; share the information received from the research. As suggested by Heffner (2004), replication of a search can be carried out by another researcher; besides, the replication of research is often considered one of the factors that add validity to the research.
The first stage of the research comprises a hypothesis to be formulated. As such, the first stage of any research process includes a problem statement or a hypothesis that would be investigated in the research itself. As suggested by Heffner (2004), the theory guess should be determined at the first stage of the research process as it shapes the entire procedure. When a question is selected, it is necessary to review relevant literary sources. A literature review is usually a second stage of the research as it enables the researcher to see what has already been done in the field and what innovative practices may be applied during the investigation. The next stage is based on the identification and analysis of variables that can affect the results. After receiving the information about the the issue to be investigated, the hypothesis can be edited with regard to the next stage of the research where a relevant research method should be applied.
Sampling, protocols, investigation, analysis, and discussion of results are the same for all types of research; these stages should be carried out regardless of the research method and experience of the researcher. Ethical considerations can be discussed in the introductory part of the research when the relevance and scope of research are examined or in the discussion section of the research. As Goodman & Miller (2000) state, Ethics offers conceptual tools to evaluate and guide moral decision making. Ethical considerations apply in attempts to determine what is good or meritorious and which behaviors are desirable or correct in accordance with higher principles (pp. 370-402). In addition, it is necessary to remember that stages can be carried out in the order relevant for a research unless the order influences validity of the outcomes. At the same time, sharing information with other stakeholders may help optimization of further attempts as well as comparison of findings with results of other related investigations.
Though market research and consumer behavior are considered to be the most popular areas of application of statistical research, they can be effectively used for investigations in criminal justice. The importance of statistical thinking becomes apparent when it comes to the analysis of relevance of some terms to issues or frequency of some events. As claimed by H. G. Wells, Statistical thinking will one day be as necessary for efficient citizenship as the ability to read and write (as cited in Bennett, Briggs, & Triola, 2009). In this respect, statistical research when applied to criminal justice is aimed at demonstrating the data that can be received using statistics. Different types of surveys and sampling methods can be found to address any issue about the data available or unavailable.
The statistical data applied to criminal justice should be credible so that a researcher could use it for research that can further influence the way criminals are punished. For instance, if a researcher finds out that drug addicts become aggressive and predisposed to crime-committing after being imprisoned, he/she may suggest that these people should be rehabilitated instead of incarcerated. Further research should be conducted investigating the behavior of drug addicts after rehabilitation and comparison with the results of the previous approach when these individuals were imprisoned. As such, the results of a research may impact the methods applied by a correctional system to this or that person shaping the perception of this individual and his/her further life.
Research methods often shape the entire research and influence its validity. The importance of selecting the right research method has been actively explored by comparing the results of different investigations. As stated by Hagan (2010), people may use research methods in everyday lives though they simply lack conceptual frameworks, , or sufficient knowledge of the language of research methods to defend their views in an appropriate manner (p. 5). At the same time, it is necessary to define the research method and use tools applied in the framework of a particular method whereas different methods may be used due to the complexity of the hypothesis that involves statistics and observation. In this case, quantitative and qualitative research tools (Sanchez, 2008) may be applied to investigate the frequency of some events and the reasons for their occurrence.