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Research as a Method: Anecdotal Versus Empirical Data

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?

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.

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