SSmail
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Hi, I'm currently doing my thesis for my Msc forensic psych degree and it involves comparing the metacognitive abilities of offenders versus non offenders (among other things). I really need participants with a past criminal record, but I haven't yet got any. Does anyone have any ideas on how I could go about recruiting participants with a criminal record?
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Nerol
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(Original post by SSmail)
Hi, I'm currently doing my thesis for my Msc forensic psych degree and it involves comparing the metacognitive abilities of offenders versus non offenders (among other things). I really need participants with a past criminal record, but I haven't yet got any. Does anyone have any ideas on how I could go about recruiting participants with a criminal record?
Maybe try contacting charities who do work with offenders - send them information about your study and ask if they will share with their service users? E.g. Prison Advice and Care Trust (PACT).
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bones-mccoy
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Unless you already have access to a forensic population then I reckon you'll struggle to recruit offenders, largely due to the ethics involved and all the vetting that has to be done. Your best bet would be recruiting via the general population i.e. those with an offence history who are now living in the community.
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SSmail
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(Original post by bones-mccoy)
Unless you already have access to a forensic population then I reckon you'll struggle to recruit offenders, largely due to the ethics involved and all the vetting that has to be done. Your best bet would be recruiting via the general population i.e. those with an offence history who are now living in the community.
Hi, sorry, yes that what I meant. They just need a past criminal offense.
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lol.yolo
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I'd second the advice of the first commenter. You'd have better success getting participants from such a specific target population by specifically seeking them out (unless you want to pay expensive panels). look for community rehabilitation programmes and ask them to spread the word.
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bones-mccoy
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(Original post by SSmail)
Hi, sorry, yes that what I meant. They just need a past criminal offense.
Have you submitted a research proposal yet? This is the kind of thing that your dissertation supervisor can help you with if you're unsure

If you're already collecting data then again, your supervisor is best placed to answer your question. Just remember that any kind of data collection you do will have to go through ethics and any external organisation will need to be aware of your work and receive a gatekeeper letter.
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Lord Asriel
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If your time frame is a 1 year MSc, I would be very wary with setting up a project that requires both a very hard to find sample and tricky ethics to clear. Unless you already have supervisors or other stakeholders with access to (ex)offender populations, and already have their buy in, it is highly unlikely you are going to be able to recruit enough numbers.

Although I now tend to supervise doctoral projects with a much larger timeframe, I have done the odd clinical MSc project, where I already have a patient group, NHS clinicians and an existing data methodology for service evaluations etc. Even with those things in hand MSc students have suffered as they have to develop their proposal and get their head around the methodology, then clear ethics and the beaurocratic hurdles. For MSc, simple is always better. Piggy back of an existing larger research project, do something that is achievable in a limited timeframe and use a tried and tested method. If I had MSc students again I would now recommend replication studies rather than doing a completely novel approach.
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bones-mccoy
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(Original post by Lord Asriel)
If your time frame is a 1 year MSc, I would be very wary with setting up a project that requires both a very hard to find sample and tricky ethics to clear. Unless you already have supervisors or other stakeholders with access to (ex)offender populations, and already have their buy in, it is highly unlikely you are going to be able to recruit enough numbers.

Although I now tend to supervise doctoral projects with a much larger timeframe, I have done the odd clinical MSc project, where I already have a patient group, NHS clinicians and an existing data methodology for service evaluations etc. Even with those things in hand MSc students have suffered as they have to develop their proposal and get their head around the methodology, then clear ethics and the beaurocratic hurdles. For MSc, simple is always better. Piggy back of an existing larger research project, do something that is achievable in a limited timeframe and use a tried and tested method. If I had MSc students again I would now recommend replication studies rather than doing a completely novel approach.
This is really good advice. Our tutors were very clear that unless we already had access to a forensic population i.e. a prison or secure hospital, then we would only be able to use university students, the general population or work colleagues for data collection. This is because jumping through all the hoops in order to use those participants takes too long - prison vetting can take up to 6 months, plus your uni ethics board will require external ethics from HMPPS to be completed, which would never be a priority for any governer - so there's no gaurentee this would be completed with enough time for data collection, analysis and writing the dissertation.

I did something novel for my MSc dissertation, but used participants for an organisation I volunteer with so ethics were simple and my sample size was good enough. Any project using vulnerable or high risk participants can get really quite tricky so is best left for those with a much longer timeframe. I absolutely agree with Lord Asriel - find previous studies, read the abstract, methodology and conclusion, pick out limitations and see if you can run a similar project which focuses on improving an aspect of the original. So if the original study didn't manage to control for X variable, see if you can, or if their study experienced too much attrition, think about something you could do to prevent that in your project. Even changing the scales used, or sample parameters could make a difference.
Last edited by bones-mccoy; 1 month ago
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