# The Practice of Research in Criminology and Criminal Justice

# Web Exercises

Click on the following links. Please note these will open in a new window.

1. Search the Web for a crime-related example of statistics. The Bureau of Justice Statistics is a good place to start: www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/. Using the key terms from this chapter, describe the set of statistics you have identified. What phenomena does this set of statistics describe? What relationships, if any, do the statistics identify?

2. Conduct a Web search for information on a criminological subject that interests you. How much of the information that you find relies on statistics as a tool for understanding the subject? How do statistics allow researchers to test their ideas about the subject and generate new ideas? Write your findings in a brief report, referring to the Web sites that you found.

3. Locate five peer-reviewed journal articles that report the results of quantitative research. Within each article, count the number of times the mode, mean, median are reported and the variable being interpreted. Does the researcher provide a rationale for reporting one measure of central tendency over another?

4. The U.S. Census Bureau’s home page can be found at www.census.gov. This site contains extensive reporting of census data including population data, economic indicators, and other information acquired through the U.S. Census. This website allows you to collect information on numerous subjects and topics, which can be used to make comparisons between different states or cities. Find the “State and County QuickFacts” option and choose your state. Now pick the county in which you live and copy down several statistics of interest. Repeat this process for other counties in your state. Use the data you have collected to compare your county with other counties in the state. In a concise report, summarize the results of your analysis.

5. Access the American Community Survey at http://www.census.gov/programs-surveys/acs/. Review four of the tables produced. What statistics are used? What information do the statistics provide? Are the mean, median, or mode presented? How might those statistics be useful? Are cross-tabulations presented? What type of analysis could be used with these data?

6. Go to The Sentencing Project’s website and access their prison population data: http://www.sentencingproject.org/map/map.cfm. Select various areas and draw the prison population as a line graph. What does the trend reflect? Draw the same data as a bar graph. How does this change your interpretation? What additional information does this provide? Why would a histogram be more appropriate for this type of data? Review the descriptive statistics for the various jurisdictions. What information is provided? What measures of central tendency would be useful and how could researchers use them to inform their work?

7. Access the FBI’s UCR data tool: http://www.ucrdatatool.gov/. Build a table using the state and variable boxes. Select “Get Table” and then select “Spreadsheet of this table” to access an Excel file of the .cvs data. Once you have the file, calculate the measures of central tendency (mean, median, and mode) for your variables. What do these measures tell you about the data? Use the data to create graphs or charts. How do the data appear visually compared to the measures of central tendency?