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Methodological Research to Support the Redesign of the National Crime Victimization Survey: Screening Questions

Award Information

Award #
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Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)
Original Solicitation

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2009, $298,898)

The National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) was instituted in 1972 to produce national estimates of the levels and rates of crimes of violence and theft, including crime not reported to police departments. Along with the FBI's Uniform Crime Reporting Program, the NCVS constitutes a key component of our Nation's system to measure the extent and nature of crime in the United States. While the NCVS's core methodology has been validated over the past three decades, the survey's viability and its ability to meet the goals it was created to meet are being threatened by increasing costs in a period of fiscal austerity. To develop an agenda for reconfiguring the survey to enable it to continue to be a viable forum for assessing the impact of crime on its victims, BJS sponsored an expert panel study carried out by The National Research Council of the National Academies to review of the survey's methodology and provide guidelines for options for redesigning the NCVS.

The crime screening questions represent one of the most important components of the NCVS methodology. The crime screening questions now used on the survey were implemented in 1992 after an extensive redesign effort. While analyses have been done of the response patterns associated with the pre-redesigned questions, BJS has not undertaken an analysis of the redesigned questions to examine how effective each question is in eliciting recall of victimization. This award responds to this need to understand how the crime screening protocol currently operates and has operated in the past. The aim is to determine whether improvements can be made to either reduce respondent burden without jeopardizing respondent participation or to find ways to enhance respondent recall of crime events they have experienced.

Under this award, RTI will analyze the screening questions to examine how effective each question is in eliciting recall of victimization.

The project will consist of the following basic six (6) tasks: 1) conduct a literature review, 2) analyze NCVS data, 3) analyze paradata, 4) conduct focus groups, 5) make recommendations, and 6) deliver data files and documentation.


Date Created: September 22, 2009