Journal of Experimental Criminology

, Volume 8, Issue 3, pp 227–239 | Cite as

Lessons from a field experiment involving involuntary subjects 3,000 miles away




Describe the challenges involved in conducting field experiments that entail a long distance between the research team and the research site.


A summary of the lessons learned from the field experiment of Hawaii’s Opportunity Probation with Enforcement (HOPE).


Pre-trial planning is especially important when the research team is a long distance from the research site. A good communication strategy helps educate practitioners on the merits of conservative design choices, such as intent-to-treat, and helps to signal the importance of the study and therefore of maintaining the condition assignments and delivering the intervention with fidelity.


Distance creates additional challenges for the research team. These challenges make it even more essential to exploit assets at the research site. Distance creates more uncertainty, which makes pre-planning even more important, but it is expensive. Criminal-justice funding agencies’ support for exploratory studies as precursors to full-blown trials would improve the quality of experimental criminal-justice research.


CONSORT Field experiment Randomized controlled trial Involuntary subjects 


  1. Farabee, D. J., Hawken, A., & Griffith, P. (2011). Tracking and incentivizing substance abusers in longitudinal research: results of a Survey of National Institute on Drug Abuse-Funded Investigators. Journal of Addiction Medicine, 5(2), 87–91.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Hall, E. A., Zuniga, R., Cartier, J., Anglin, M. D., Danila, B., Ryan, R., et al. (2003). Staying in touch: A fieldwork manual of tracking procedures for locating substance abusers in follow-up studies. 2nd edition. Los Angeles: UCLA Integrated Substance Abuse Programs.Google Scholar
  3. Hawken, A. (2010). The message from Hawaii: HOPE for probation. Perspectives, The Journal of the American Probation and Parole Association, 34(3), 36–49.Google Scholar
  4. Hawken, A., & Kleiman, M. (2009). Managing drug-involved probationers with swift and certain sanctions: Evaluating Hawaii’s HOPE. Evaluation report. NCJ 229023. Washington: National Institute of Justice.Google Scholar
  5. Hopewell, S., Clarke, M., Moher, D., Wager, E., Middleton, P., Altman, D. G., et al. (2008). CONSORT for reporting randomized controlled trials in journal and conference abstracts: explanation and elaboration. PLoS Medicine, 5(1), E20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Plint, A. C., Moher, D., Morrison, A., Schulz, K., Altman, D. G., Hill, C., et al. (2006). Does the CONSORT checklist improve the quality of reports of randomized controlled trials? A systematic review. Medical Journal of Australia, 185(5), 263–267.Google Scholar
  7. Weisburd, D., Lum, C. M., & Petrosino, A. (2001). Does research design affect study outcomes in criminal justice? The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 578, 50–70.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Public PolicyPepperdine UniversityMalibuUSA

Personalised recommendations