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5 J. Experimental Criminology 1 (2009)

handle is hein.journals/jexpcrm5 and id is 1 raw text is: J Exp Criminol (2009) 5:1-23
DOI 10.1007/s 11292-008-9066-0
Drawing conclusions about causes from systematic
reviews of risk factors: The Cambridge
Quality Checklists
Joseph Murray - David P. Farrington-
Manuel P. Eisner
Published online: 25 January 2009
© Springer Science + Business Media B.V 2009
Abstract Systematic reviews summarize evidence about the effects of social
interventions on crime, health, education, and social welfare. Social scientists should
also use systematic reviews to study risk factors, which are naturally occurring
predictors of these outcomes. To do this, the quality of risk factor research needs to be
evaluated. This paper presents three new methodological quality checklists to identify
high-quality risk factor research. They are designed so that reviewers can separately
summarize the best evidence about correlates, risk factors, and causal risk factors.
Studies need appropriate samples and measures to draw valid conclusions about
correlates. Studies need prospective longitudinal data to draw valid conclusions about
risk factors. And, in the absence of experimental evidence, controlled studies need to
compare changes in risk factors over time with changes in outcomes to draw valid
conclusions about causal risk factors.
Keywords Causes . Correlates - Methodological quality . Observational studies.
Risk factors . Systematic reviews
All scientific work is incomplete-whether it be observational or experimental...
That does not confer upon us a freedom to ignore the knowledge we already have,
or to postpone the action that it appears to demand at a given time. (Hill 1965: 12)
With vast amounts of empirical evidence accumulating across the social sciences,
knowledge needs to be summarized efficiently for researchers, policy makers, and
J. Murray (E) - D. P. Farrington - M. P. Eisner
Institute of Criminology, University of Cambridge, Sidgwick Avenue, Cambridge CB3 9DA, UK
e-mail: jm335@cam.ac.uk

4 Springer

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