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Hale et al: Criminology 3e

Chapter 5: Chapter synopses

Methods of social research are often an area that students new to academic criminology find a daunting prospect: what is the difference between qualitative and quantitative methods? What are the strengths and weaknesses of using, for example, focus groups instead of postal surveys? How do we assess the relative merits of a particular method of investigation in comparison to alternative methods? Will a particular method help me to find out what I want to know?

This chapter is divided into three sections:

Section one outlines the range of options that are available to criminologists when researching crime and criminal justice.  It identifies the key questions that researchers need to ask when selecting a research design.  It outlines the different types of methods criminologists can select from and it explores the advantages and disadvantages of seeking to combine research methods.

Sections two and three are written specifically for criminologists.

Section two identifies challenges faced by researchers of crime and criminal justice.  It focuses on the political nature of criminological research.  This section also identifies that it is likely that criminologists will be exploring sensitive topics with consequent ethical implications.  It outlines that researchers must plan to manage risk during the research process.

Section three draws attention to recent methodological developments and considers the opportunities they present for researching crime and criminal justice.