Week 1.1

Within criminal justice, researchers are often faced with a plethora of anecdotal data with little empirical support for such assertions. We have all, no doubt, heard anecdotes pertaining to gang initiation rites, killers stalking baby sitters, or corpses discovered rolled in carpets by hapless hotel maids. Criminal justice researchers depend primarily upon empirical data as the most useful tools with which to explore the nuances of the issues plaguing society. However, one can always ponder the usefulness of anecdotal data. In contemporary research, there has yet to be a consensus pertaining to the proper place and function of anecdotal data. Jacques (2014) discusses both quantitative and qualitative research methods. After reading the article and Chapter 1 in your primary text, respond fully to the following questions:

How would you explain the differences between the use of empirical research data from that of anecdotal data?
How do these differences inform how criminal justice data might be evaluated and interpreted in published research findings?
Is there a place in formal research for anecdotal data?

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Your initial post should be at least 400 words in length. Support your claims with examples from the required material(s) and/or other scholarly resources, and properly cite any references.
Guided Response: Review your colleagues’ posts, and substantively respond to at least three of your peers by Day 7. Compare and contrast the role processed data plays in setting policy and executing operations in criminal justice, as opposed to the role played by anecdotal, or personally inferred, data. Pay particular attention to acknowledging the value of data-driven decisions and the dangers of decisions made without consulting empirical data prior to selecting a course of action. Each of your responses should be at least 200 words in length. Continue to monitor the discussion forum until 5:00 p.m. (Mountain Time) on Day 7, and respond with robust dialogue to anyone who replies to your initial post.

Respond 

Eric Sterman
YesterdayMay 22 at 10:37amManage Discussion Entry
For this week’s discussion, we learn about different approaches to conducting research, which include the use of qualitative research, which we learn in our textbook is the, “approach for exploring and understanding the meaning individuals or groups ascribe to a social or human problem.” (Creswell, 2014). This data is collected through the use of interviews of individuals, group discussions, and through observations. Essentially, this is data that is gathered through opinions in an attempt to find an underlying factor in a problem. We also learn in our textbook another approach to conducting research includes quantitative research, which is described as, “an approach for testing objective theories by examining the relationship among variables. These variables, in turn, can be measured, typically on instruments, so that numbered data can be analyzed using statistical procedures.” (Creswell, 2014). This type of research is gathered through the use of surveys, whether electronic or paper, face to face interviews, and telephone interviews. After reading this week’s required material, we also learned about empirical data and anecdotal data, and the difference between them. According to an article I found, I learned that empirical data can be seen as, “measurements or data collected through direct observation or experimentation.” (Bradford, 2017). Through the same article, I learned that anecdotal data is, “evidence that consists of stories that have been experienced by a person that are told to prove or disprove a point.” (Bradford, 2017). Essentially, the difference between these two types of data collection is that empirical data is gathered through observations or personal experiences while anecdotal data is based off information of others and not hard cold facts.
With all the information that I have read for this week’s discussion, it appears that empirical data contains the use of both qualitative and quantitative research, which is based off of scientific research and not just the word of an individual. A lot of work goes into empirical data because information that researchers gather for criminal justice information contains data that helps develop tools to reduce criminal activities. The Department of Justice uses things such as statistics, research and evaluations to help develop tools that other law enforcement agencies can use. Empirical data uses a combination of qualitative and quantitative data, which includes statistics. According to the Department of Justice, “The Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) is the primary statistical agency of the U.S. Department of Justice. BJS collects, analyzes, publishes, and disseminates information of crime, those who commit crime, victims of crime, and the operation of justice systems at all levels of government.” (DOJ, n.d.). This in my opinion shows how empirical data can be very useful in the criminal justice world due to this is factual information that has been collected by different law enforcement agencies, which have been supported to the Department of Justice, allowing credible research to be conducted and published to support what a researcher might be trying to describe. With anecdotal data, I believe this could provide inaccurate information for publication in research findings because the information being provided is through someone’s personal experience and not providing factual information because the personal experience or story that is being told might not contain all the facts. If a researcher is basing their findings off of story, the results could not be factual, causing inaccurate results which could make a policy fail or an individual look incompetent.
I think there could be a place for formal research when it comes to anecdotal data. We have learned so far the anecdotal data is through information based off of others. With the increased amounts of claims that officers use excessive force, many departments have gone to the use of individual body cameras which record interactions between the officer and a suspect. An individual might tell a story that they were abused or harassed by an officer, but if that individual knows that the officer is wearing a body camera, they might actually tell the story right or provide factual information due to an individual who is conducting research can request the video footage from the department, in which is can prove or disprove the story that is told. I believe an example like this would show that anecdotal data could be useful for research.

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