Advice for the next generation of (forensic) researchers; or, eight habits for highly effective researchers
This is the commencement speech that I don’t think I’ll ever get to give, for an audience of early career researchers and graduate and undergraduate students who are beginning to find their way. I believe a successful and fulfilling research career can be had if one follows these eight habits, based on my experience, observations of highly accomplished colleagues, and of course, research evidence when available.
It is a striking task to ask undergraduate students (as well as friends and family members) what they believe is the proportion of convicted sex offenders who recommit a new sexual offence. The typical response is: “most” or, for the more statistically-inclined, “80%, give or take 5%.” Research, however, does not match the public’s view. When based on official statistics (for example: new arrests or convictions for a sexual offence), the rates are disproportionately lower than common expectations: about 7% after 5 years and 12% after 10 years (Helmus et al., 2012).
Collecting data online is an attractive option for researchers – it can allow for quick access to a large number of participants with varying demographics, resulting in large more representative samples in research. Participants may also feel a greater sense of anonymity that can increase honesty in responding. Furthermore, potential participants may be more likely to participate because it is easier to complete an online survey than participating in research in person. So there are a number of benefits to collecting data online, making it an attractive option for researchers.