5. Methods and Counting Crime

5.10 Use of Research Findings

Dr. Wendelin Hume and Ashly Hanna, B.A.

Harm can come from how results are shared with others. For instance, if a researcher states that there are higher rates of financial exploitation in a certain Indigenous community than in the broader society, this implies that the tribal people tend to be more criminal, creating a negative stereotype. It is not that a researcher should not share the results but rather, when sharing results, the researcher should clearly discuss variables other than race that may influence high rates of crime, such as poverty, unemployment, historical trauma, and so on. Furthermore, when stating that rates of certain types of victimisation, like spiritual abuse, are higher within some Indigenous communities, researchers should also explain that this has not been studied in the dominant society and the perpetrator is often not of the same race, or it is due to a circumstance—such as needing to leave their home—not a person. This is again done to avoid negative stereotypes of the participants and other Indigenous peoples.

The decisions of what constitutes a best practice are often based on “evidence-based” practice and not critically questioned; the assumption is that the collection of the data was unbiased and “scientific” (Maxfield & Babbie, 2001). Therefore, what needs to be done in the field is considered clear. A different option is to implement “evidence-informed” practice, which uses the data as a starting point in determining field practices, but the evidence is only one source of information, allowing cultural practices, community input, and other sources of information to be consulted as well. This is an important distinction between the two research application practices.

For instance, until 1981, in most surveys and government research, adult women were automatically considered dependent and males were determined to be the head of household. Many gender-biased policies and programs were established around this “evidence-based” conclusion. While this finding may be true in some circumstances, setting it up as a predetermined default is neither accurate nor fair. Now that the question about who is the primary breadwinner is currently asked rather than the answer being assumed, the evidence gained can help inform new practices and programs.

As researchers, we should ensure that the voices of those we researched have been captured in a way that the researched recognise themselves and also in a way that they would like others to know them. We need to ask ourselves what psychological harm, embarrassment, or other losses might be caused by the collected information. We also need to ask ourselves what Indigenous knowledge we could use to rebut or elaborate on the findings from the information collected so no humiliation or embarrassment is caused.



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Introduction to Criminology Copyright © 2023 by Dr. Wendelin Hume and Ashly Hanna, B.A. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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