CCJS 420 Discussion Examining and Reporting Data

March 8, 2022
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CCJS 420 Discussion Examining and Reporting Data

CCJS 420 Discussion Examining and Reporting Data

If you are using a Windows computer, use FTK Imager (or another forensic tool, if you prefer) to preview your local drive and examine the contents of your own user profile folder. If you are using a Macintosh computer, you can use the Macintosh OS X Finder to view your user profile. Now, pretend you are a digital forensic examiner analyzing the data of a suspect in a forgery case. Select a professional report format of your choice, report on the documents/files you find in your “My Documents” folder (or similar folder on a Mac). What could these documents tell a digital forensic examiner about you and your activities? Are the metadata for these files important? Are there any files of particular significance? Feel free to use screenshots or file data in your report, if it can be presented in a professional manner. Submit your report to your instructor as a SINGLE FILE via your Assignments Folder.

Analyzing and Interpreting Information
Analyzing quantitative and qualitative data is often the topic
of advanced research and evaluation methods courses. However,
there are certain basics which can help to make sense of reams
of data.

Always start with your research goals
When analyzing data (whether from questionnaires, interviews,
focus groups, or whatever), always start from review of your research
goals, i.e., the reason you undertook the research in the first
place. This will help you organize your data and focus your analysis.
For example, if you wanted to improve a program by identifying
its strengths and weaknesses, you can organize data into program
strengths, weaknesses and suggestions to improve the program.
If you wanted to fully understand how your program works, you
could organize data in the chronological order in which customers
or clients go through your program. If you are conducting a performance
improvement study, you can categorize data according to each measure
associated with each overall performance result, e.g., employee
learning, productivity and results.

Basic analysis of “quantitative” information
(for information other than commentary, e.g., ratings, rankings,
yes’s, no’s, etc.):

CCJS 420 Discussion Examining and Reporting DataMake copies of your data and store the master copy away. Use the copy for making edits, cutting and pasting, etc.
Tabulate the information, i.e., add up the number of ratings, rankings, yes’s, no’s for each question.
For ratings and rankings, consider computing a mean, or average, for each question. For example, “For question #1, the average ranking was 2.4”. This is more meaningful than indicating, e.g., how many respondents ranked 1, 2, or 3.
Consider conveying the range of answers, e.g., 20 people ranked “1”, 30 ranked “2”, and 20 people ranked “3”.
Basic analysis of “qualitative” information
(respondents’ verbal answers in interviews, focus groups, or
written commentary on questionnaires):

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Read through all the data.
Organize comments into similar categories, e.g., concerns, suggestions, strengths, weaknesses, similar experiences, program inputs, recommendations, outputs, outcome indicators, etc.
Label the categories or themes, e.g., concerns, suggestions, etc.
Attempt to identify patterns, or associations and causal relationships in the themes, e.g., all people who attended programs in the evening had similar concerns, most people came from the same geographic area, most people were in the same salary range, what processes or events respondents experience during the program, etc.
Keep all commentary for several years after completion in case needed for future reference.
CCJS 420 Discussion Examining and Reporting DataInterpreting information
Attempt to put the information in perspective, e.g., compare results to what you expected, promised results; management or program staff; any common standards for your products or services; original goals (especially if you’re conducting a program evaluation); indications or measures of accomplishing outcomes or results (especially if you’re conducting an outcomes or performance evaluation); description of the program’s experiences, strengths, weaknesses, etc. (especially if you’re conducting a process evaluation).
Consider recommendations to help employees improve the program, product or service; conclusions about program operations or meeting goals, etc.
Record conclusions and recommendations in a report, and associate interpretations to justify your conclusions or recommendations.

Reporting Results
The level and scope of content depends on to whom the report is intended, e.g., to funders / bankers, employees, clients, customers, the public, etc.
Be sure employees have a chance to carefully review and discuss the report. Translate recommendations to action plans, including who is going to do what about the research results and by when.
Funders / bankers will likely require a report that includes an executive summary (this is a summary of conclusions and recommendations, not a listing of what sections of information are in the report — that’s a table of contents); description of the organization and the program, product, service, etc., under evaluation; explanation of the research goals, methods, and analysis procedures; listing of conclusions and recommendations; and any relevant attachments, e.g., inclusion of research questionnaires, interview guides, etc. The funder may want the report to be delivered as a presentation, accompanied by an overview of the report. Or, the funder may want to review the report alone.
Be sure to record the research plans and activities in a research plan which can be referenced when a similar research effort is needed in the future.

Who Should Carry Out the Research?
Ideally, the organization’s management decides what the research
goals should be. Then a research expert helps the organization
to determine what the research methods should be, and how the
resulting data will be analyzed and reported back to the organization.

If an organization can afford any outside help at all, it should
be for identifying the appropriate research methods and how the
data can be collected. The organization might find a less expensive
resource to apply the methods, e.g., conduct interviews, send
out and analyze results of questionnaires, etc.

If no outside help can be obtained, the organization can still
learn a great deal by applying the methods and analyzing results
themselves. However, there is a strong chance that data about
the strengths and weaknesses of a product, service or program
will not be interpreted fairly if the data are analyzed by the
people responsible for ensuring the product, service or program
is a good one. These people will be “policing” themselves.
This caution is not to fault these people, but rather to recognize
the strong biases inherent in trying to objectively look at and
publicly (at least within the organization) report about their
work. Therefore, if at all possible, have someone other than the
those responsible for the product, service or program to look
at and determine research results.

 

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