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Environmental criminology in the big data era

Thom Snaphaan (UGent) and Wim Hardyns (UGent)
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Abstract
This study examines to what extent new and emerging data sources or big data have been empirically used to measure key theoretical concepts within environmental criminology. By means of a scoping review, aimed at studies published between 2005 and 2018, insight is provided into the characteristics of studies that used big data sources within environmental criminology. The type and extent of big data sources used, as well as the strengths and weaknesses of these data sources, are synthesized. After the selection procedure, 84 studies were included for further analysis. Although the number of studies increased each year, there has been a remarkable increase in the number of studies since 2014. The findings suggest that most studies used administrative data or user-generated content as one type of research data. However, innovative data sources (automated and volunteered data) have gained in importance in recent years. Also, most studies are of a descriptive or predictive nature, predominantly conducted by computational (social) scientists. Since these approaches pay little to no attention to mechanisms that bring about social outcomes, an alternative philosophical framework is proposed. We put forward a scientific realist approach as a solution to integrate data-driven and theory-driven research. This approach responds to recent calls to move towards an ‘analytical criminology’. The results are discussed within this framework, and translated into avenues for future research.
Keywords
Analytical criminology, big data, data sources, environmental criminology, scoping review

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Citation

Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:

MLA
Snaphaan, Thom, and Wim Hardyns. “Environmental Criminology in the Big Data Era.” EUROPEAN JOURNAL OF CRIMINOLOGY, 2019.
APA
Snaphaan, T., & Hardyns, W. (2019). Environmental criminology in the big data era. EUROPEAN JOURNAL OF CRIMINOLOGY.
Chicago author-date
Snaphaan, Thom, and Wim Hardyns. 2019. “Environmental Criminology in the Big Data Era.” EUROPEAN JOURNAL OF CRIMINOLOGY.
Chicago author-date (all authors)
Snaphaan, Thom, and Wim Hardyns. 2019. “Environmental Criminology in the Big Data Era.” EUROPEAN JOURNAL OF CRIMINOLOGY.
Vancouver
1.
Snaphaan T, Hardyns W. Environmental criminology in the big data era. EUROPEAN JOURNAL OF CRIMINOLOGY. 2019;
IEEE
[1]
T. Snaphaan and W. Hardyns, “Environmental criminology in the big data era,” EUROPEAN JOURNAL OF CRIMINOLOGY, 2019.
@article{8631106,
  abstract     = {This study examines to what extent new and emerging data sources or big data have been empirically used to measure key theoretical concepts within environmental criminology. By means of a scoping review, aimed at studies published between 2005 and 2018, insight is provided into the characteristics of studies that used big data sources within environmental criminology. The type and extent of big data sources used, as well as the strengths and weaknesses of these data sources, are synthesized. After the selection procedure, 84 studies were included for further analysis. Although the number of studies increased each year, there has been a remarkable increase in the number of studies since 2014. The findings suggest that most studies used administrative data or user-generated content as one type of research data. However, innovative data sources (automated and volunteered data) have gained in importance in recent years. Also, most studies are of a descriptive or predictive nature, predominantly conducted by computational (social) scientists. Since these approaches pay little to no attention to mechanisms that bring about social outcomes, an alternative philosophical framework is proposed. We put forward a scientific realist approach as a solution to integrate data-driven and theory-driven research. This approach responds to recent calls to move towards an ‘analytical criminology’. The results are discussed within this framework, and translated into avenues for future research.},
  author       = {Snaphaan, Thom and Hardyns, Wim},
  issn         = {1477-3708},
  journal      = {EUROPEAN JOURNAL OF CRIMINOLOGY},
  keywords     = {Analytical criminology,big data,data sources,environmental criminology,scoping review},
  language     = {eng},
  pages        = {22},
  title        = {Environmental criminology in the big data era},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1477370819877753},
  year         = {2019},
}

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