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NCVS: An Examination of a Twelve Month Reference Period in the National Crime Victimization Survey

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2008, $1,100,021)

In 2007, BJS sponsored an expert panel study by The National Research Council of the National Academies of Science to review the National Crime Victimization Survey's (NCVS) methodology and provide recommendations for redesign options in conducting the NCVS. In its interim report, the panel stressed that BJS should carefully study potential changes in study design before incorporating them (Groves & Cork, 2008). BJS has initiated a methodological research program to support the redesign of the NCVS based on panel recommendations.

Currently, the NCVS uses a rotating panel design in conjunction with a six-month reference period. A six-month reference period means that during each interview cycle, respondents are asked to recall victimization events happening within the six-month period prior to the interview. The NRC evaluation noted that changing from a six-month reference period to a twelve-month reference period has the potential for improving the precision per-unit cost in the NCVS. The objective of this project is to complete a feasibility study examining the use of a twelve-month reference period in the NCVS. The project will include a final proposal outlining the optimal design for transitioning to a twelve-month reference period.

Under this award, NORC will perform the following tasks: (1) develop methods for improving event recall and anchoring using event calendaring and cues to stimulate recall of violent and property offenses measured in the NCVS using both telephone and personal interviewing formats; (2) design and carry out a study to test the recall methods developed; (3) conduct testing of the protocols developed for improving recall over a twelve- month reference period; (4) assess the burden on respondents, ease of use and effectiveness of the use of the developed recall techniques for measuring violent and property crimes over a twelve-month reference period; (5) provide detailed review of the relevant survey research literature methods for improving recall for surveys incorporating twelve-month reference periods; (6) develop an optimal proposal in a detailed written report format that addresses methodological issues including methods to elicit event recall and assessment of respondent burden; and (7) deliver an electronic version of the data in SPSS format and supporting documentation.


Date Created: September 30, 2008