“Bring the Truth Out!”: Research Methods Impact on a Community’s Fight Against Gun Violence
Swarthmore College. Dept. of Sociology & Anthropology
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“Bring the Truth Out!”: Research Methods Impact on a Community’s Fight Against Gun Violence explores the ways that Swarthmore Professor, William Faber’s gun violence research methods employed in his Delaware County Homicide Database Project impact the ways high-quality gun violence data is provided to gun violence prevention advocates and community members in Delaware County Pennsylvania. Through interviews with members of Faber’s research team, community-engaged, public-facing research experts and gun violence prevention advocates, data placemat sessions with community members, and quantitative data analysis methods, this thesis exposes the triumphs and challenges of community-engaged, public-facing research methods in gun violence research. Building off literature that explores the dominant trends in gun violence, and the benefits and limitations of community-engaged and public-facing research methods, this project argues that community-engaged, public-facing research methods will produce the best data for Faber’s community partners and be the most ethical research practice for Faber to employ. Specifically, the centering of the community in the research process will enhance the benefits the community receives from the research. This justice-based centering practice will increase the rigor, relevance, and reach of Faber’s work through involving community partners in the research process. Presenting data publicly will also help keep the local community informed about local violence which helps add to their personal safety. Faber’s work, beyond being appropriately performed, has substantial room to grow. Expansions of his research methods to produce more, higher-quality data will continue to benefit the community. This possibility speaks to the larger role that continual improvements in gun violence research methods will have on gun violence overall. Continual improvements in research will lead to improvements in measures to address the gun violence crisis itself.