In addition to focusing on improving the validity and reliability of surveys and administrative data, there was some discussion at the workshop about the need to develop and apply credible models. Even perfectly valid and reliable data cannot completely address the many questions of interest. This was particularly obvious in Dr. Raghunathan’s presentation on developing small-area estimates and in the more general discussion that followed. Evaluations of subgroups or geographic areas that may not be adequately represented or covered by the sampling scheme invariably require researchers to make assumptions. The credibility of empirical findings, however, depends on the validity of the maintained assumptions. Some participants expressed concern that little thought was being paid to the assumptions used to derive inferences on crime and victimization, especially for those regarding specialized populations or geographic areas.
The variety of ideas, concerns, and recommendations raised by the papers and commentary at the workshop resulted in a rich discussion of crime measurement and research issues. Public opinion polls have repeatedly demonstrated that crime is a policy issue of pre-eminent concern to the American public. The goal of the Committee on Law and Justice and the Committee on National Statistics in convening the workshop, commissioning the papers, and issuing this report is to stimulate further discussion and eventually a greater focus on the importance of improving data collection systems and measurement of crime.
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Raghunathan, T.E. 2000 Combining Information from Multiple Sources for Small Area Estimation of Victimization Rates. Paper commissioned for the Committee on Law and Justice, Workshop on Measurement Problems in Criminal Justice Research, July 2000, National Research Council, Washington, DC.
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