Web of Deviance: Using the Internet to Explore Issues in Criminological Research

John Kane, National White Collar Crime Center
Ryan Brown, National White Collar Crime Center
Paul Klenowski, National White Collar Crime Center

ABSTRACT
The purpose of this paper is to explore alternative avenues for original data collection in criminological research. Drawing on previous 'cyber' studies, the authors examine both the pros and cons of conducting survey research on the Internet. The existence of the Internet and the ever-growing popularity of the World Wide Web clearly offer new avenues of exploration for the researcher. While online research techniques do not entirely eliminate cost, the benefits can be substantial. Individuals and groups may be more easily reached than ever before without the burden of geographical restraints. Some of these groups might be considered deviant because of their involvement with the Internet itself. The widespread use of electronic mail allows for the instantaneous transmission to potential respondents, while web-based technology enables researchers to develop secure, anonymous studies online. Despite the apparent ease by which researchers can gather data from Internet-based studies, sampling bias, privacy concerns, and other methodological issues come into play. The information from this paper should provide a foundation for any individual interested in utilizing the Internet as a medium for conducting criminal justice research.

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Updated 05/20/2006