Crime in Numbers

From Correlation to Causation

Randomized controlled trials are the gold standard for causal inference. Using an experimental and a control group, double-blind and with a placebo, the effect of an intervention can be neatly determined. But this ideal scenario is not always practicable, or even ethically desirable. What if we want to know how effective sex-offender treatments are? Or whether employment makes people happier? In such cases, special methods have to be used to be able to make causal statements.

Course levelMaster, open to PhD staff and professionals
Recommended course combinationSession 1: Empirical Research Methods For Legal Studies
Session 2: Wildlife Crime Analysis: Data-Driven Nature Protection
Session 3 
28 July to 11 August 2018
Co-ordinating lecturer    Dr Steve van de Weijer
Other lecturersDr Victor van der Geest
Form(s) of tuitionLectures, practicals, computer training
Form(s) of assessment    Short tests, presentation
ECTS    3
Contact hours45
Tuition fee€1000

Students and professionals in the field of Criminology, Sociology, Psychology, Education, Political Science, Policing and Conflict Studies. If you have doubts about your eligibility for the course, please let us know. Our courses are multi-disciplinary and therefore are open to students and professionals with a wide variety of backgrounds.
Basic knowledge of statistics and regression analysis is required.

This course details with five special methods that can be used for criminology research: propensity score matching, instrumental variables, regression discontinuity design, fixed effects methods and trajectory analysis.

After a brief refresher on regression models, you analyse a real-life dataset to assess whether various “remedies” (therapy, employment, marriage, punitive sanctions) are effective in reducing criminal recidivism. The techniques are explained in a conceptual manner, and the course provides you with numerous hands-on exercises using SPSS and Stata. You also practise reporting on the findings from such analyses, in scientific article format, as well as in conference-type presentation.

This course is taught by experienced lecturers from the Netherlands Institute for the Study of Crime and Law Enforcement (NSCR) and VU Amsterdam.

At the end of this course, you can:    

  • Choose an appropriate technique for causal analysis of observational data.
  • Use SPSS and Stata to analyse that data.
  • Determine the effect of an intervention.
  • Summarize the findings for an academic journal.
  • Present research findings.

Prof pic

Steve van de Weijer obtained his PhD at VU University (department of criminology) in 2013. He is currently employed as a postdoctoral researcher at the Netherlands Institute for the Study of Crime and Law Enforcement (NSCR). His research interests include life-course criminology, intergenerational transmission, biosocial criminology, and cybercrime. Moreover, he is specialised in quantitative research methods and has been teaching statistics and advanced quantitative methods at VU University since 2010.

To be announced.
To be announced. Reader provided at start of the course.
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