Crime In The Community

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Crime in the Community

Crime in the Community


The research problem is an area of concern that the investigator is interested in exploring. It reflects a gap in knowledge about a specific social issue or problem discussed in the scientific literature. Often a research problem focuses on a situation that arises out of everyday life and that calls for a solution, an improvement, or some alteration; it is a problem that needs to be solved. Conceptualizing and describing the social problem lead the investigator to identify the most salient concepts or variables involved and guide the investigator's thinking about why and how the variables are connected to each other. (Bernard, 2000)

Research Questions and Hypotheses

Research questions involve examining a relationship between two or more variables. The relationship between variables can be expressed as either positive or negative correlation or causal.

Causal relationships describe the cause-and-effect relationships between variables. Three criteria are used to assess causal relationships: (1) correlation between the variables, (2) temporal precedence or sequence, and (3) no alternative explanation. These controls attempt to combat specific threats to internal validity that can negatively affect the inferences made from a study. Examples of research questions examining a causal relationship are, does cognitive behavioural therapy reduce trauma symptoms among survivors of domestic violence? And does neighbourhood cohesion reduce community crime? (Black, 2003)

When there is an existing theory and/or the empirical literature provides some evidence about the relationship between variables, then an investigator is able to venture a hypothesis. A hypothesis is a formal statement about the expected relationships between two or more variables in a specified population. It is a translation of a research problem into a clear explanation or prediction of a study's results. A hypothesis is stated in a manner that allows for it to be tested, that is, either supported or refuted. Examples of hypotheses are; Cognitive behavioural therapy will reduce trauma symptoms among survivors of domestic violence, and, the higher the neighbourhood cohesion, the more community crime will be reduced. (deVaus, 2001)

Thus, research questions and hypotheses examine whether variables stated in a research problem are related or have a causal relationship. The types of questions and hypotheses that are expressed are strongly linked to the purpose of the research study.

Purpose of Research

Research can be grouped into exploratory, descriptive, explanatory, and evaluative. Research that is exploratory or descriptive examines the relationships among variables (correlation), and research that focuses on explanation or evaluation assesses causal relationships. (Engel, 2005)

Exploratory studies are usually undertaken when relatively little is known about a phenomenon or an event. The goal is to determine whether a relationship exists among several variables under scrutiny. This type of study often operates as a pilot study to determine the feasibility of conducting a larger, more complex study. For example, investigators may be interested in exploring whether there is a relationship between neighbourhood conditions and a person's physical health. Without making a simple connection between neighbourhood conditions and health, implementing an intervention study to change the conditions ...
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