Collecting information on criminal gangs is one of the most dangerous undertakings a researcher can venture into due to the risks involved in the whole exercise. Research methodology, which researchers will use on such groups, should clearly state methods and procedures of collecting data to avoid dangerous instances, which may arise during the data collection exercise. Researchers can use a variety of qualitative and quantitative methods that include correlation analysis, observation, documentary analysis, surveys, and statistical data evaluation.
Selected research methods should take into consideration connections that exist among different neighborhoods as concerns crime gangs. As Babbie and Maxfield (2008, pp.134-135) argue, data collected must examine mechanisms used by different crime gangs depending on their neighborhoods.
Quantitative Method: Survey
The majority of researchers use surveys to study criminal activity and gangs. Researchers should collect data from law-enforcing agents to determine the severity of the situation in specific areas. Identifying offenders is one of the major problems when collecting such data in that, understanding the organization of such groups is hard. Samples to use should include all categories of communities and regional areas, depending on the severity of gang activity in those areas. Questionnaires find wide applications in the survey study, whereby researchers mail them to respondents who supply information on such gangs. Researchers should structure questionnaire questions to ensure adequate information is gathered. For example, the following data should be included in such surveys: the number of gang groups (both active and inactive), activities of the gang groups (research should list the number of gang activities), their organization, and sponsors.
In addition, the survey should include data on the number of robberies and criminal activities conducted by such gangs, identified within a specific time. Such surveys should include tables of analysis, which will provide required quantitative data on such groups. The surveys must specify activities by all gang groups for example motorcycle, prison, adult, and hate gangs, depending on locality (Babbie and Maxfield, 2008, p.65). Researchers can also use a cross-sectional, cohort, and longitudinal study in surveying specific regions, and community perceptions on criminal gangs. The survey must have also had a section, which will indicate identification methods used by different gang groups for grouping purposes when analyzing data (Bilchik, 1999, p.7-9).
Qualitative Method: Interview
The collection of information using interviews also plays a central role in analyzing criminal gangs. It is the most dangerous undertaking in that researchers must have sometimes face-to-face interaction with gang members. On the other hand, researchers can conduct interviews on community members and law-enforcing agents, but at all times the research must consider the confidentiality of information provided by interviewees. Interview questions should consider both protective and behavioral factors, which may hinder the collection of data, hence the need to select a safe and appropriate setting. The researcher should inform all interviewees to avoid violent reactions during the real interview day. In addition, researchers must clearly explain to the interviewees the purpose of the research to avoid any wrong perceptions of the whole exercise. Researchers can use a variety of interview data collecting techniques, for example, tape recording, structured questions, and normal writing in data forms. Researchers should avoid very formal environments for them to ensure interviewees give all required information freely. Researchers must aim to gather important information such as their organization, activities, identification symbols, main driving factors, and methods of conducting their activities (Arise foundation, 2009, Para. 2-10).
In conclusion, the overall data collection exercise on criminal gangs must take into consideration the security hazards involved, and researchers must lay down clear strategies to avert them. In addition, researchers should use research methodologies, which collect enough data, which is verifiable by other researchers.
Arise foundation. (2009). Conversions behind Razor wire- arise interviews incarnated gang members. Web.
Babbie, E. and Maxfield, M. (2008). Basics or research methods of criminal justice and criminology. Belmont: Wadsworth Publishing.
Bilchik, S. (1999). National gang survey, 1996. Darby: Diane publishing.