One of the biggest challenges in the global society today, particularly in advanced economies such as the United States, is the increase in the rates of violent crime. Violent crime encompasses criminal offenses such as murder, robbery with violence, manslaughter, and aggravated assault, and the increase in the rate of these is an issue of concern. Many explanations have been given for the rise in violent crimes in contemporary society, and one of the factors presumed to be behind the same is gun ownership and possession. In the U.S., for instance, reports indicate that civilians account for the possession of 393 million firearms with the figure representing 46percent of the total firearms held by civilians around the world. From this, a research question is designed: does gun possession increase the rate of violent crime?
Just like the experimental methodology, the survey methodology entails independent and dependent variables. An independent variable refers to the variable that is controlled or changed by the researcher whereas the dependent variable is that which is being tested or measured by the researcher. For the suggested criminal justice survey, the independent variable is gun possession as this can be controlled by the researcher. The dependent variable, in this case, is the rate of violent crime that depends on gun possession. The unit of analysis is whether the rate of violent crime can be reduced by addressing the issue of gun possession.
Description of the Survey Design
The hypothesis for the research is: Gun possession increases the rate of violent crime.
The formulation of the above hypotheses began by determining the variables, both dependent and independent. Once the variables were determined, the focus was on establishing the relationship between the two variables. It was determined that gun possession greatly influences the occurrence of violent crime leading to the formulation of the hypothesis.
For this survey, random sampling would be used. This is a sampling strategy where random samples would taken from a large population. The randomly sampled participants would then be issued with questionnaires or be involved in interviews, which would be the two most preferable data collection techniques during the survey (Mathiyazhagan & Nandan, 2010). For this strategy, each unit in a given population would have an equal probability of selection in the sample. To determine whether gun possession influences the crime rate, the focus would be on people of different ages, gender, and race. Thus, the random sampling would ensure that each of these units are represented in the sample. The biggest advantage of this approach is that it protects against bias and helps to obtain a representative sample in the long run.
Longitudinal or Cross-Sectional Survey?
A longitudinal survey can be observational in nature and can occur over several touch points across and long period of time. In most cases, for a longitudinal survey, the researcher hardly interferes with the subjects or respondents. (Mathiyazhagan & Nandan, 2010). The most important aspect that differentiates the longitudinal survey from the cross-sectional survey is the timeline. In a longitudinal survey, the same subjects are observed or surveyed severally with this occurring over an extended period of time; this can be several months or years. Often, a longitudinal survey allows the research to measure changes over a given period of time. On the other hand, a cross-sectional survey’s primary purpose is to compare population groups at a given time. This is in contrast to the situation in the longitudinal survey where data is collected over time. Besides, the cross-sectional survey focuses on several groups rather than a single group. Thus, for the survey, the focus would be on determining the effect of gun possession on crime rate at a single point in time rather than over time and it would also focus on comparing multiple population groups. Based on these aspects, the survey would be cross-sectional.
Defining and Measuring Variables
The independent variable, gun possession would be measured through self-report measures where a series of questions through questionnaires or interviews are posed to the participants. The dependent variable, the rate of violent crime, would also be measured through self-report measures with a series of questions being posed to the participants of the study. For example, the participants would be asked if the rate of violent crime has reduced with regulations on gun possession or ownership.
Limitations/Difficulties with the Survey Design
A number of limitations or difficulties are anticipated with the survey design. For instance, respondents could have a hidden agenda thereby influencing the whole research process. Also, dishonesty among participants cannot be ignored. Often, in surveys where questionnaires or interviews are the major data collection techniques, participants or respondents can find it difficult to analyze, understand or interpret some questions. There is also the possibility of skipped question, which could interfere with the research findings (Mathiyazhagan & Nandan, 2010).
For this survey, the research question is on whether gun possession increases the rate of violent crime. The independent variable is gun possession whereas the dependent variable is the rate of violent crime. A hypothesis formulated for the survey is that gun possession increases the rate of violent crime. Random sampling would be used to prevent instances of bias and the survey would be cross-sectional. Measurement of both dependent and independent variables would entail self-report measures where questions are posed to participants. Notably, a number of limitations or difficulties with the survey design are anticipated including participants finding it difficult to analyze, understand, or interpret some questions, dishonesty of participants, participants having a hidden agenda, and the possibility of skipped questions.
Mathiyazhagan, T., & Nandan, D. (2010). Survey research method. Media Mimansa, 4(1), 34-45. Retrieved from http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.464.5585&rep=rep1&type=pdf
Prasad, S., Rao, A., & Rehani, E. (2001). Developing hypothesis and research questions. Unpublished thesis. Retrieved from https://medicine.utah.edu/ccts/sdbc/files/Developing_Hypothesis.pdf