Secondary Data and Agency Records

The most common source of data in Criminal Justice Research.

Agency Records:

Most commonly used in descriptive or exploratory studies. This is consistent with the fact that many of the criminal justice data published by the government agencies are intended to describe something. For instance, the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) publishes annual figures on police population this is considered published statistics.

Types of Agency Records:

  • published statistics (Government organizations routinely collect and public)
  • nonpublic agency records (routinely collected for internal use).
  • new data (collected by agency staff for specific research purposes).

Secondary Data:

Data collected by someone other than the user or facts and figures already recorded prior to the project.

Types of Secondary Data (Internal & External):

  • Internal Data require further processing
  • Ready to use
  • External Data consist of published material
  • database
  • internet
  • books


The disadvantages of using Secondary Data are similar to Agency Records. Data previously collected by a researcher may not match our own needs.


  • Save cost and time
  • Involves very little time effort and $
  • In some cases more accurate then primary data


  • May not be on target with the research problem
  • Quality & accuracy of the data may pose a problem
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