Missing Data Problems in Criminological Research

  • Robert Brame
  • Michael G. Turner
  • Ray Paternoster


Missing data problems are a ubiquitous challenge for criminology and criminal justice researchers (Brame and Paternoster 2003). Regardless of whether researchers are working with survey data or data collected from official agency records (or other sources), they will inevitably have to confront data sets with gaps and holes. As a result, researchers who design studies must take whatever steps that are feasibly and ethically possible to maximize the coverage and completeness of the data they will collect. Even with the best planning and implementation, however, nearly all studies will come up short. Records will be incomplete, targeted survey participants will not be located, some who are located will not participate, and some who participate will not participate fully. These common pitfalls result in a problem most researchers face, in that we want to use the data sets we collect to form inferences about an entire target population – not just the subset of that population for whom valid data are available.


Criminal Justice Uniform Crime Report Miss Data Mechanism Miss Data Problem Supplemental Homicide Report 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert Brame
    • 1
  • Michael G. Turner
    • 1
  • Ray Paternoster
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Criminal JusticeUniversity of North Carolina at CharlotteCharlotteUSA
  2. 2.Department of CriminologyUniversity of MarylandCollege ParkUSA

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