One of the scientific objectives of Violence Research Lab is to develop, test and implement its’ own methodology, based on a mixed method approach that combines qualitative and quantitative methods of inquiry. Special effort will be invested into operationalising the idea of an innovative “phenomenologically thick description of violence”. This innovative methodological approach should enable Violence Research Lab to focus on the criminological realities of delinquent violence and cyber harassment, rather than their normative construction that is usually being captured by the ‘mainstream’ approach. In terms of empirical field research Violence Research Lab will, amongst other, conduct a total of 16 field studies covering a nationwide sample using case analysis of a targeted total of 8,000-10,000 final prosecutorial and court cases at all 223 relevant prosecutorial and both criminal and misdemeanour judicial offices in Croatia.
The 16 field studies will be conducted by Violence Research Lab’s central Violence Research Lab in Zagreb (5 field studies) and the 3 regional labs in Split (4 field studies), Rijeka (4 field studies), and Osijek (3 field studies). Besides Violence Research Lab’s research group members at least 2 student volunteers and 1 doctoral student should be involved in the field studies at each of the regional labs. Besides the case analysis, Violence Research Lab planes to conduct at least 200 interviews with key persons involved in the prevention, detection, and prosecution of delinquent violence and cyber harassment in Croatia and will attempt to gather data through self-report-victimisation and/or self-report-delinquency surveys. Hereby particular attention will be paid to conducting a pilot study on the ‘dark figure’ of delinquent violence in Croatia The risks related to successful access to sources of data have been identified and are dealt with in three ways. Firstly, the active involvement of expert practitioners as Violence Research Lab associates in all stages of the project will minimise the risks that any aspect of the study is designed in a non-operable or non-applicable way, while simultaneously enabling continuous direct personal contact to practitioners in a position to facilitate access to sources of data. The Violence Research Lab expert practitioner associates that have so far already committed to the study at hands experienced and high ranking criminal justice professionals from the Public Prosecutor’s Office (Mr Dražen Jelenić, First Deputy of the Public Prosecutor; Mrs Gordana Klarić, Deputy of the Zagreb County Public Prosecutor) and Supreme Court (Mrs Ana Garačić, Deputy of the President of the Supreme Court and President of the Supreme court’s Criminal Department). Some of them have already actively facilitated access to sources of data (prosecutorial and court files) for a study on lethal violence in Croatia conducted successfully by Violence Research Lab’s principle investigator in 2016 on a nationwide sample of 650 analysed case files. Secondly, Violence Research Lab envisages the active involvement of further practitioner associates, not only based in Zagreb, but also in Split, Rijeka, and Osijek. Such close cooperation with the criminal justice sector and further relevant institutions minimises the potential risks related to access to sources of data. Thirdly,
Violence Research Lab will use a mixed method approach which should not only minimise the shortcomings of each single method of inquiry, but also provide for more options in terms of access strategies. The third risk related to lack of lifetime research experience has also been recognised and will be minimised by using all Violence Research Lab members’ professional contacts in order to build an ‘advisory network’ of renown domestic and international scholars in the relevant field and on specific (sub)topics. Violence Research Lab will thus set up a Scientific Advisory Board and thereby compensate the lack in research experience by gaining input from experts on the subject. Finally, the close consultations with the Faculty of Law’s Ethical Board and their already issued approval of the study should minimise any risks related to ethical concerns and failure to be granted institutional access based on ethical and data protection considerations.