Article: article from journal or magazin.
How important are interview methods and questionnaire designs in research on self-reported juvenile delinquency ? An experimental comparison of internet vs. paper-and-pencil questionnaires and different definitions of the reference period
Journal of Experimental Criminology
There has been relatively little change over recent decades in the methods used in research on self-reported delinquency. Face-to-face interviews and selfadministered interviews in the classroom are still the predominant alternatives envisaged. New methods have been brought into the picture by recent computer technology, the Internet, and an increasing availability of computer equipment and Internet access in schools. In the autumn of 2004, a controlled experiment was conducted with 1,203 students in Lausanne (Switzerland), where "paper-and-pencil" questionnaires were compared with computer-assisted interviews through the Internet. The experiment included a test of two different definitions of the (same) reference period. After the introductory question ("Did you ever..."), students were asked how many times they had done it (or experienced it), if ever, "over the last 12 months" or "since the October 2003 vacation". Few significant differences were found between the results obtained by the two methods and for the two definitions of the reference period, in the answers concerning victimisation, self-reported delinquency, drug use, failure to respond (missing data). Students were found to be more motivated to respond through the Internet, take less time for filling out the questionnaire, and were apparently more confident of privacy, while the school principals were less reluctant to allow classes to be interviewed through the Internet. The Internet method also involves considerable cost reductions, which is a critical advantage if self-reported delinquency surveys are to become a routinely applied method of evaluation, particularly so in countries with limited resources. On balance, the Internet may be instrumental in making research on self-reported delinquency far more feasible in situations where limited resources so far have prevented its implementation.
CAWI, self-reported juvenile delinquency, time reference period
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