Chapter 1 Crime, Criminal Justice, and Scientific Inquiry

Chapter 1 Crime, Criminal Justice, and Scientific Inquiry

People learn about their world in a variety of ways, and they often make mistakes along the way. Science is different from other ways of learning and knowing. We'll consider the foundations of social science, different purposes of research, and different general approaches to social science.

Main Points

·  Knowledge of research methods is valuable to criminal justice professionals as consumers and producers of research.

·  The study of research methods is the study of how we know what we know.

·  Inquiry is a natural human activity for gaining an understanding of the world around us.

·  Much of our knowledge is based on agreement rather than direct experience.

·  Tradition and authority are important sources of knowledge.

·  Empirical research is based on experience and produces knowledge through systematic observation.

·  In day-to-day inquiry, we often make mistakes. Science offers protection against such mistakes.

·  Whereas people often observe inaccurately, science avoids such errors by making observation a careful and deliberate activity.

·  Sometimes we jump to general conclusions on the basis of only a few observations. Scientists avoid overgeneralizaton through replication.

·  Scientists avoid illogical reasoning by being as careful and deliberate in their thinking as in their observations.

·  The scientific study of crime guards against, but does not prevent, ideological and political beliefs from influencing research findings.

·  Social science involves three fundamental aspects: theory, data collection, and data analysis.

·  Social scientific theory addresses what is, not what should be.

·  Social scientists are interested in explaining aggregates, not individuals.

·  Although social scientists observe people, they are primarily interested in discovering relationships that connect variables.

·  Explanations may be idiographic or nomothetic.

·  Data may be quantitative or qualitative.

·  Theories may be inductive or deductive.

·  Two key ethical guidelines in social science research are that no harm should come to research subjects and participation in research should be voluntary.