BJS: Bureau of Justice Statistics

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BJS Working Paper Series

The Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) Criminal Justice Working Papers (CJWP) series provides preliminary analysis of substantive, technical, and methodological issues. They are works in progress that are presented to promote the sharing of valuable work experience and knowledge. The working papers are designed to encourage discussion, promote the sharing of relevant findings and knowledge in a timely manner, contribute to scholarly debate, solicit constructive feedback on the research, and inform continuing work in the topic area. The BJS working paper guidelines below provide additional details.

Disclaimer: The Working Paper series is released to inform interested parties of research and to encourage discussion. The views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily those of BJS or the U.S. Department of Justice. The authors accept responsibility for errors.

BJS Criminal Justice Working Paper Guidelines

This BJS CJWP series allows BJS staff, other federal staff, grantees, and contractors who use BJS statistical data (alone or in combination with other sources) to disseminate preliminary research findings.  Authors may present this preliminary work at conferences or working group meetings, and the papers may be published later in peer-reviewed journals and other scholarly outlets.

red arrow Description
red arrow Requirements
red arrow Eligible Authors
red arrow Features and Audience
red arrow Format
red arrow Publishing Procedures
red arrow Dissemination Process

Description

  • A BJS CJWP does not provide the first release of official statistics from a BJS data collection.
  • A BJS CJWP undergoes a peer-review process for scientific merit (e.g., assessing the appropriateness of the methods and data to address the research question(s) asked and disclosure review) but does not undergo the full review process for consistency with BJS data quality standards and the release of official BJS statistics.
  • All BJS working papers are subject to a technical review by BJS or non-BJS staff before being published or otherwise made available to the public. These reviews focus on issues of technical merit, such as methods, data, and interpretation. The review also ascertains that arguments are warranted by the data and methods used and that it is not simply an opinion piece.
  • BJS will assure that the CJWPs are appropriately edited for consistency with the BJS publishing principles and style guide. Authors may also use the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association as an additional resource for guidance on writing and citations.
  • All BJS CJWPs carry the following disclaimer: "The views expressed in this research, including those related to statistical, methodological, technical, or operational issues, are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official positions or policies of the Justice Department, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics, or the views of other staff members within these agencies. The authors accept responsibility for all inaccuracies or errors. The working paper series is released to inform interested parties of ongoing research and to encourage discussion of work in progress."
  • A completed working paper may be adapted for publication through other internal and external outlets, including but not limited to, peer-reviewed journals, conference proceedings, and BJS technical or substantive reports.

Requirements—What are the requirements for a BJS working paper?

A BJS CJWP—

  • provides preliminary research or analysis
  • does not go through the BJS review and production process
  • is not the first release from an official BJS data collection
  • uses the organization and template format as prescribed below, and uses BJS data to develop a working paper on an area of interest
  • addresses a scientific question pertaining to the substance, methodology, or technical aspects of criminal justice policy, practice, or data collection
  • provides recommendations for data collection or analysis.

Eligible Authors—Who can submit to the CJWP series?

A working paper may be proposed by BJS staff, federal agency researchers with interests in criminal justice statistics, BJS Visiting Fellows, BJS Graduate Fellows, recipients of federal agency research grants pertaining to criminal justice systems that use BJS data in whole or part, and contractors working on a BJS data collection or project.

Features and Audience—How should CJWPs be written and who is the audience?

The BJS CJWP series is intended primarily for the scientific research community that has an interest in criminal justice systems and statistical systems. The working paper should include—

  • abstract
  • disclaimer
  • credit box
  • introduction
  • data coverage and limitations
  • definitions
  • measurement approach
  • analysis and interpretation
  • summary
  • conclusions and recommendations
  • interior notes
  • references.

The abstract and the introduction should clearly state the issue, why the topic is of interest, and how the analyses address the issue.

Format—What is the format of CJWPs?

The document will be formatted in Word, including a cover page. The cover page will carry the BJS brand only. The logo or corporate brand of the contractor may appear in the credit box on the last page of the report.

Publishing Procedures—How are CJWPs handled?

CJWPs undergo a limited peer review for scientific merit. The review consists of determining the relevance of the research questions, ascertaining that the data and methods are appropriate for the question(s) and that appropriate analytic techniques were used, ensuring compliance with privacy and confidentiality standards, and ensuring that findings and conclusions logically follow the analysis.

  1. Manuscript submission and initial review process

    1. BJS staff will conduct an initial review for relevance and internal consistency. Peer review (either internal or external) will assess whether the data, methods, findings, and conclusions meet scientific standards.
    2. The CJWP supervising editor will review peer-reviewed comments and determine what issues, if any, should be addressed in the paper by its author(s) and/or BJS staff, as appropriate.
    3. The subject matter expert (SME) statistician will forward the reviewed working paper to the Publication and Dissemination Unit (PDU) for copy editing and processing for front office review, approval, and release.

  2. Guidelines for BJS staff reviews

    There are five major guidelines to follow when reviewing a paper for the BJS CJWP series:

    1. Does the paper satisfy the BJS CJWP series criteria? Does it address a relevant criminal justice system or statistical infrastructure question? Does it use BJS data in whole or part? Are the data and methods appropriate to the question?
    2. Is the paper clearly written and does it follow the BJS Style Guide, which is available on BJS.gov? For guidance on writing and formatting the report, authors should use the BJS Style Guide. For additional guidance, authors should use the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association.

  3. Guidelines for external technical reviews

    Peer reviewers will be asked to provide a brief written commentary on certain aspects of the proposed working paper, including—

    1. the relative strengths and weaknesses of the paper in terms of—
      1. measurement approach presented
      2. data analysis and interpretation
      3. reasonableness of conclusions drawn or recommendations presented.
    2. the relative importance of the paper in terms of its perceived contribution(s) to existing research or literature in the topical area
    3. the need for subsequent or additional research on aspects of the issues examined in the working paper
    4. the quality and clarity of the writing.
    The technical reviewers, who would be recruited in advance to perform work as needed, should complete their work in a 4- to 6-week period.

  4. Editorial review

    The PDU editor will perform a light copyedit, examining the paper for mechanics of writing and coverage of all the required components. This edit should take no longer than 2 business days.

  5. Front office notice of release

    Following editorial review, the CJWP will be reviewed by the following BJS officials:

    1. senior statistical advisor
    2. deputies
    3. director

Dissemination Process

  • An advance notice will be included in the AG Weekly, and an advance notification memo to the Attorney General will be prepared.
  • A webpage will be created to post the working papers on bjs.gov.
  • A marketing plan will be created for each CJWP, using various channels, such as—
    1. JUSTSTATS eblast
    2. News from BJS eblast
    3. social media posts
    4. blog


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