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Identifying and Addressing Response Errors in Self-Report Surveys

  • James P. Lynch
  • Lynn A. Addington
Chapter

Abstract

Much of the data used by criminologists is generated by self-report surveys of victims and offenders. Although both sources share a common reliance on responses to questions, little overlap exists between the two traditions mainly because of the differences in the original motivating goals and auspices of each. Recent changes in how these data are used–especially self-report offending surveys–necessitate a re-examination of this division. In this chapter, we review the methodological work on response errors conducted in the context of victimization surveys in order to identify ways to improve data accuracy in self-report offending surveys. We find evidence to suggest that several types of response error may affect the results obtained by self-report offending surveys.On the basis of these findings, we conclude that further exploration of sources of response error is needed and that a true understanding of these errors may only be possible with the creation of a “state of the art” survey to serve as a benchmark for less expensive surveys. In the interim, we suggest ways in which researchers can utilize existing surveys to obtain a better understanding of how response errors affect crime estimation, especially for particular uses such as trajectory modeling.

Keywords

Reference Period Response Error Victimization Survey National Crime Victimization Survey Crime Event 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • James P. Lynch
    • 1
  • Lynn A. Addington
    • 2
  1. 1.John Jay College of Criminal JusticeCity University of New YorkNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Department of Justice, Law, and SocietyAmerican UniversityWashingtonUSA

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