Web Exercises

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1. The Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) home page can be found at www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs. The site contains an extensive list of reports published by the BJS along with links to the data used in the reports. You can access tables of data that display phenomena over time and across various geographical locations.

  1. Using data and/or reports available from the National Crime Victimization Survey, conduct an analysis of the rates of violent victimization from 1993 until the most recent date available in the data report. What do you conclude about the trends of violent victimization?
  2. Find a report available on the site that makes cross-national comparisons. Summarize the methods by which the data were collected and the findings of the report.

2. The National Institute of Justice has a wealth of information on crime mapping located at www.ncjrs.gov. Search the site for information on “crime mapping” and you will find that the site contains information on the latest technological advances in crime mapping strategies for police departments as well as full-text articles discussing recent research that uses crime mapping techniques. Select a report available online and summarize its findings.

3. The World Bank offers numerous resources that are useful for comparative research. Visit the World Bank website at www.worldbank.org. You will find data listed by countries; after selecting a random sample of countries and examine three social indicators of your choice. In a report, describe the techniques utilized to conduct a random sampling and summarize the differences and similarities you have identified between the countries’ social indicators.

4. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) provides extensive economic indicator data on the Web for regions, states, and cities. Go to the BLS website, which offers statistics by location: http://stats.bls.gov/eag/. Click on a region and explore the types of data that are available. Write out a description of the steps you would take to conduct an intra-nation comparative analysis using the data available from the BLS Web site.

5. Go to the International Association of Law Enforcement Intelligence Analysts (IALEIA) website at www.ialeia.org. On the site you can download papers and information regarding numerous topics, including crime mapping. Provide a review of at least one of these applications. From the website, you can also link to IALEIA’s journal to read the latest publications in this area.

6. Access the Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) website at www.icpsr.umich.edu. Use the Find function to search for secondary data sets on a topic of your choosing. Review the codebook(s) of the data collection. What variables are included? Review the summary of the data collection, and think about additional variables that would help researchers answer research questions on your topic. Discuss the pros and cons of secondary data, including the benefits of existing data and the absence of potentially important variables.

7. Crime mapping is an important tool for police officers. Search your local police station’s website and determine if they are proactively using crime mapping for tracking criminal activity and/or as a way to focus patrols in areas categorized as crime hot spots. If your town does not use crime mapping, search for a larger city such as Los Angeles or Washington, DC. Review the crime maps and discuss what patterns you see. Are certain crimes clustered? Does crime seem to congregate in the same areas, or does it appear random? How can police officers use this information to do their jobs more effectively? How can citizens use this information? Further, how can researchers use the data as a secondary data source?

8. Systematic social observations are important ways of gathering contextual information. Explore your home town using Google Earth (https://www.google.com/earth/) or Google Maps (https://www.google.com/maps/). Make a list of neighborhood characteristics that would be important for examining contextual differences in communities. Discuss why these contextual elements would be essential in a research project on crime, housing, or education? How could a researcher use this information to supplement another data collection (e.g., a survey of citizens fear of crime)?