Posted: October 15th, 2022


Discuss some of the advantages and disadvantages that would be associated with using unobtrusive measures, secondary analysis, and/or official statistics to study deviant groups in your community.

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Unobtrusive measures have the advantage of studying people without the people knowing they are being studied. “If the subjects are unaware that they are being studied, then it might be assumed that the behavior or attitudes observed are more natural, unhampered by reactive effects to testing or artificial experimental arrangements” (Hagan, 2014, p. 239). This will be important in a small community like Key West because many people know each other. It will be important to any research study to keep the researcher’s identity hidden if the study is looking at behavior from a deviant group because the researchers will get a true picture of what the group is about and their behavior if their identity is not known. According to Hagan (2014) “researchers can also obtain original data from agencies or other researchers and reanalyze the data for their own purposes” (p. 227). Many communities keep records that are useful to researchers and will assist with the study about the community/deviant group with data that has been collected by previous researchers. The previous researchers could possibly still be available to assist with an explanation of the data in smaller communities, such as Key West, Florida. If no one is available to explain the research (data) already compiled, then that could also be an advantage because the bias would not be apparent. The researchers do not have to reply on people to explain the actions; they are strictly looking at the data for the study. An advantage of using secondary analysis is that the researchers can look at a specific and longer period of time. “Such data exist in large quantity and await clever investigators to tease out appropriate and useful analyses” (Hagan, 2014, p. 240).

       The disadvantages when using unobtrusive measures, specifically secret ways to gathering information is privacy issues that come into play. As Hagan (2014) explains “the researcher is in a sense an uninvited snooper; and because the subjects are not on guard, the behavior or attitudes they display may relate to private or intimate behavior that may prove embarrassing, or even dangerous to the subjects, were the information to fall into the wrong hands” (p. 240). The next disadvantage is that the findings of a criminal justice research project are not legally protected. “This could lead to the researchers being subpoenaed and possibly jailed for obstruction” (Hagan, 2014, p. 240). The researchers need to look at the study to make sure people are not being taken advantage of as the study progresses. This could cost the researchers time and money, which is another disadvantage of using unobtrusive measures to study any community. Hagan (2014) calls this a “very time-consuming enterprise” (p. 240). A disadvantage when using data collected by other researchers/studies is the records and history being tainted by the original collector. The previous researcher could have been selective about what was included in the findings so the totality of the findings is not fully accurate. According to Hagan (2014) “existing records and archival data may have been previously contaminated by reactive biases or subject to selective deposit (what remains is not typical) or selective survival (what survives is not typical)” (p. 241). Another disadvantage is that Key West is a small town so the findings of any research or study could not be used outside of the Key West community. A small town has different characteristics then a larger community would have. It may be difficult to translate the findings to a larger community from any study that is done inside Key West. The last disadvantage found was that if the researchers are from the community, especially small community like Key West, they could have a definite observer bias because this is their community. Key west is a tourist town and relies on money from visitors to survive. Shedding a negative light on any issues could threaten the income of the community. As Hagan (2014) states “Such approaches are also subject to possible observer bias, unless carefully monitored by the research field director” (p. 240). 


Hagan, F. (2014). Research methods in criminal justice and criminology (9th ed). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

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