Research Methods Knowledge and Corruption


Research Design

In this article, the researchers used a mixed method design to achieve the set goals and objectives of the study. The choice of design was critical to ensure that all research questions were answered appropriately. On the one hand, qualitative design was needed to explain why corruption was rampant in some government sectors (Porter & Graycar 2016). This approach helped in identifying the government departments where corruption was common, factors that promoted corruption, and potential ways to address this problem. Using semi-structured and unstructured questions made it possible for the respondents to explain their answers. On the other hand, quantitative design was critical in determining the magnitude of the problem and its impact on security. As Graycar and Prenzler (2013) observed, corruption is a common problem in both developed and developing economies. However, the magnitude varies. Using a quantitative method made it possible to identify the most corrupt institutions in the country along with the magnitude of the problem.

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Methods Used to Collect and Analyze Data

The researchers used both secondary and primary data to inform their study. They collected secondary data from books and journal articles. The primary data was collected from cases available from the New York City Department of Investigation (Porter & Graycar 2016). The process involved requesting access to records related to cases of corruption in recent decades. This department has a large database of corruption cases, individuals and departments implicated, how the cases were resolved, and their impact on American society. The researchers selected cases most appropriate to the study. Once the data were collected from this institution, the next step was to conduct analysis. As mentioned, the authors employed both qualitative and quantitative analysis. They conducted quantitative analysis to explain the magnitude and frequency of corruption committed by various departments and officers. They also used qualitative analysis to explain the statistical figures (Alperen 2017). Their findings can help to simplify identifying individuals and departments that are more likely to be involved in corruption, the reasons why they might embrace this vice, and the impact.

The Appropriateness of the Method in Answering Research Questions

It is evident that the method used in this study to answer the authors’ research questions was appropriate. The main strength of this method is that is that it quantifies the problem. People using this document can understand the seriousness of the problem within the country (Graycar & Prenzler 2013). The fact that the study went on to identify the departments and individuals involved in corrupt dealings facilitates finding ways to address the problem. This approach also makes it easy to propose solutions to the problem because the parties involved are clearly identified. The data provides a historical record of the problem, which means that determining a pattern is feasible. In addition, it is possible to identify trends, such as whether the problem is worsening. However, although the method was appropriate, it had a few weaknesses (Chin & Trimble 2014). The main weakness was that it was time-consuming to go through the records to understand the problem at hand. This kind of process is more demanding than simply collecting data through interviews. Part of the information available in this database is not current; thus, it is less relevant to the study.

Other Possible Methods

The researchers had a good reason for choosing the approach under discussion to answer their research question. It would have been possible for the researchers to conduct face-to-face interviews with some of the officers to understand their views about this issue. Although these officers may not have admitted to being involved in corrupt activities, they could help answer the question of why the problem is common in the police department. Carmel-Gilfilen (2013) asserted that one of the leading reasons why some law enforcement officers engage in corruption is because of underpayment. The cost of living in the United States is high, and when an individual is offered a minimal salary, he or she may be tempted to take bribes as a way of making ends meet. It would have been necessary to obtain such explanations from the officers who participated in the study.

Hotspots of Corruption

The study findings revealed that groups of people were involved in corruption within the security docket. In the first group were politicians. As Graycar and Prenzler (2013) noted, lawmakers have oversight authority over the activities of security organs in the country. The findings in this article showed that legislators often abuse their political influence to bend the law, using their power to satisfy selfish interests at the expense of members of the public. Although the problem is not rampant at this stage, few of the existing cases have serious consequences because of the magnitude of the transactions involved. The second group comprises the supervisors and senior officers in the law enforcement agency. These senior officers are responsible for making critical operational decisions and forming policies within this department. They are responsible for departmental human resource management, procurement, and contracts, which often offers them the opportunity to misappropriate public funds. Their position makes it easy for them gain financial favors (Alperen 2017). The last group is made up of the inspectors and other junior ranking officers. These individuals are always in the field, enforcing the law. When doing their work, they are faced with the temptation of accepting bribes from offenders.

Managing Corruption

The authors suggested that corruption should be managed at the three levels under discussion. The politicians should be held to high moral standards when it comes to their role as an oversight authority (Carmel-Gilfilen 2013). Cases involving abuse of political influence should be investigated without fear of victimization, and when an individual is found guilty of corruption, he or she should receive a penalty reflecting the full force of the law. The senior commanders within the law enforcement agencies should also be subject to strict supervision to ensure that loss of public resources during procurement is eliminated (Chin & Trimble 2014). Theft and waste should also be discouraged. The junior officers should be reminded that they took an oath to protect the country. They must know that when they become compromised, they will be unable to fulfill their duties as expected. Financial penalties may be necessary to discourage corruption within the department of security.

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Applying the Findings in Security Management

The findings of this study are useful to security managers in various ways. The scholars have identified corruption as one of the greatest threats to effective security management. Once an officer takes a bribe, he or she will be forced to break the law. Security managers must discourage this vice because it may compromise the ability to fight crime (Graycar & Prenzler 2013). The article recommends the use of punitive measures whenever someone is found guilty of this crime. The study also reminds security managers that when top officials are corrupt, junior officers will also reflect unethical practices. When trying to discourage corruption, managers must embrace high moral standards so that they can be upstanding role models to junior officers.

Ethical Considerations in Research

When conducting research, according to Brennen (2013), it is important to observe ethics. In academic research, this involves following the rules and regulations set by the school. Academic research must be completed within a specific period. Nemeth (2016) noted that it is ethical to complete academic work on time to avoid misunderstandings or penalties. Academic fraud is strongly discouraged when conducting such studies. A researcher must avoid plagiarism and related academic misconduct. Any work taken from other sources must be referenced appropriately using relevant citation styles. Brennen (2013) noted that a researcher is expected to consult relevant authorities and obtain permission before collecting data from an organization. A law enforcement agency is one of the most important government agencies, and most of its data will be classified as confidential. As such, before engaging officers in an interview or accessing the database, relevant permission is needed. Engaging the top managers may help in refocusing the approach for collecting data. The top officials may have issues that should be addressed before the actual process of data collection begins. If the request is turned down for security reasons or other concerns, it will be necessary to find alternative ways to gather the necessary data.

Once permission is granted, it is ethical to inform participants about the planned study. The purpose of the research should be explained, as well as the role that will be played by the respondents. Participation in the study should be voluntary (Alsos, Eide & Madsen 2014). The sampled respondents should be informed that they are at liberty to withdraw from the research if they feel they are unable to be part of the study. Any question or concern that they have about the research should be addressed before data is collected from them. They should not be subjected to any form of victimization because of their unwillingness to provide the needed information. According to Gitterman (2014), it is also important to ensure that the identity of the respondents is protected so that they remain anonymous. The focus of this research is to investigate cases of corruption in law enforcement agencies. Some of those involved in corruption are senior commanders and influential politicians. Junior officers may be subject to intimidation if they provide information confirming the rot within the force. As such, their identity should not be revealed in order to protect them from repercussions.

Alternative Research Design

It will be necessary to conduct further work to refine Porter and Graycar’s (2016) findings about the problem of corruption in the country’s security sector. The most appropriate research design that should be used is qualitative methods. Porter and Graycar (2016) have identified the problem, including the individuals involved. It is now necessary to investigate specific factors that motivate people to engage in this vice, reasons why it is possible for these stakeholders to take bribes, the impact such corruption has on the country’s security, and a step-by-step approach that should be established to deal with the problem. The new study will need a detailed explanation of this problem beyond the statistics provided by quantitative research. In addressing the weaknesses of quantitative research, a qualitative design will make it possible to investigate the complex network of corruption in the country. This approach will also make it possible to offer suggestions on how to deal with the issue appropriately.

Participants in the New Study

Porter and Graycar (2016) used archival data to inform their study. However, when conducting further investigation, it will be necessary to collect data from a sample of respondents to provide up-to-date data. The nature of corruption in the country keeps changing, and it is becoming more sophisticated. Some of the archival data do not provide a detailed explanation about how top officers receive bribes to make it easier for criminal groups to break the law. Carmel-Gilfilen (2013) explained that some top officers have been recruited by these criminal gangs to ensure that their criminal activities may continue without police intervention. Identifying participants who can provide current information on this issue is critical. Furthermore, not all officers in law enforcement agencies are criminal-minded. A few exist who understand the current network but are committed to maintaining law and order. Identifying these officers will help in addressing the current problem. The researcher will need to identify officers of various ranks to provide the needed information. It may also be necessary to engage private-sector players who often interact with law enforcement officers to help understand the problem. For example, long-distance truck drivers, especially those who work on both sides of the border between the United States and Mexico, often interact with officers who fight drug trafficking and illegal immigration. Some have paid bribes to officers; hence, they understand the issue.

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Alperen, M 2017, Foundations of homeland security: law and policy, 2nd edn, John Wiley & Sons Inc, Hoboken, NJ.

Alsos, A, Eide, D & Madsen, L 2014, Handbook of research on innovation in tourism industries, Germany: McGraw Hill, Berlin.

Brennen, B 2013, Qualitative research methods for media studies, Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Carmel-Gilfilen, C 2013, ‘Bridging security and good design: understanding perceptions of expert and novice shoplifters’, Security Journal, vol. 26, no. 1, pp. 80–105.

Chin, L & Trimble, J 2014, Diversity and leadership, SAGE Publications, Thousand Oaks, CA.

Gitterman, A 2014, Handbook of social work practice with vulnerable and resilient populations, 3rd edn, Columbia University Press, New York, NY.

Graycar, A & Prenzler, T 2013, Understanding and preventing corruption, Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke.

Nemeth, C 2016, Homeland security: an introduction to principles and practice, 3rd edn, CRC Press, New York, NY.

Porter, L & Graycar, A 2016, ‘Hotspots of corruption: applying a problem-oriented policing approach to preventing corruption in the public sector’, Security Journal, vol. 29, no. 3, pp. 423–441.

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