Examination of the Conditions Affecting Forensic Scientists' Workplace Productivity and Occupational Stress [United States], 2012-2013 (ICPSR 35075)

Principal Investigator(s): Holt, Thomas, Michigan State University; Blevins, Kristie, Eastern Kentucky University; Foran, David, Michigan State University; Smith, Ruth, Michigan State University

Summary:

These data are part of NACJD's Fast Track Release and are distributed as they were received from the data depositor. The files have been zipped by NACJD for release, but not checked or processed except for the removal of direct identifiers. Users should refer to the accompanying readme file for a brief description of the files available with this collection and consult the investigator(s) if further information is needed.

This study assessed the occupational experiences of forensic scientists working in laboratories across the United States. The sample included 899 forensic scientists in public and private laboratories operating at the local, state, and federal level across the United States. The study addressed the levels of work stressors and satisfaction among forensic scientists across the various disciplines, along with any correlates to working conditions, requests from various criminal justice system actors, policies, procedures, and demographic conditions. The use of positive and negative coping strategies by scientists was also measured to assess how individuals working in the field are affected by their job. Finally, the ergonomic and working environment of bench scientists were assessed to consider any influence they might have on their reported levels of stress and satisfaction.

Access Notes

  • These data are part of NACJD's Fast Track Release and are distributed as they were received from the data depositor. The files have been zipped by NACJD for release, but not checked or processed except for the removal of direct identifiers. Users should refer to the accompanying readme file for a brief description of the files available with this collection and consult the investigator(s) if further information is needed.

  • One or more files in this data collection have special restrictions ; consult the restrictions note to learn more. You can apply online for access to the restricted-use data. A login is required to apply.

    Access to these data is restricted. Users interested in obtaining these data must complete a Restricted Data Use Agreement, specify the reason for the request, and obtain IRB approval or notice of exemption for their research.

    Any public-use data files in this collection are available for access by the general public. Access does not require affiliation with an ICPSR member institution.

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Study Description

Citation

Holt, Thomas, Kristie Blevins, David Foran, and Ruth Smith. Examination of the Conditions Affecting Forensic Scientists' Workplace Productivity and Occupational Stress [United States], 2012-2013. ICPSR35075-v1. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2017-06-13. https://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR35075.v1

Persistent URL: https://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR35075.v1

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Funding

This study was funded by:

  • United States Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. National Institute of Justice (2011-DN-BX-0006)

Scope of Study

Subject Terms:    coping, forensic sciences, job satisfaction, job stress, productivity, work environment

Smallest Geographic Unit:    None

Geographic Coverage:    United States

Time Period:   

  • 2012--2013

Date of Collection:   

  • 2012-11-02--2013-05-07

Unit of Observation:    Individual

Universe:    Forensic scientists in public and private laboratories operating at the local, state, and federal level across the United States.

Data Type(s):    survey data

Data Collection Notes:

These data are part of NACJD's Fast Track Release and are distributed as they were received from the data depositor. The files have been zipped by NACJD for release, but not checked or processed except for the removal of direct identifiers. Users should refer to the accompanying readme file for a brief description of the files available with this collection and consult the investigator(s) if further information is needed.

Pre-test data are not available as part of this data collection.

Methodology

Study Purpose:    The purpose of this study was to identify policies and procedures to improve the overall productivity of current laboratory personnel, as well as understand the factors that affect their work experiences.

Study Design:   

Prior to data collection, focus groups were convened with management and bench scientists of the Michigan State Police (MSP) Forensic Science Division in February 2012 to identify critical issues and challenges in their day to day activities as well as internal and external factors that influence their work environment and affect their levels of job stress. The recommendations provided by the focus group were used to refine and develop the survey instrument for this study, which was then pre-tested with a sample of sworn and unsworn forensic scientists from MSP Forensic Science Division laboratories.

Data collection took place in two waves. In the first wave, an electronic survey was distributed to all ASCLD-LAB accredited laboratory directors in November 2012. The research team coordinated with the Executive Director and management of ASCLD-LAB, responsible for accreditation of forensic laboratories. The Director's office distributed an email to all lab directors in charge of currently accredited laboratories, which included a description of the project, informed consent for the study, and an electronic link to the survey instrument. The first solicitation was delivered on November 2, 2012, with a reminder message sent on December 2, 2012 to increase the overall response rate.

In the second wave, a paper survey was distributed in May 2013 to 84 agencies in 25 states to increase the overall response rate and the likelihood of responses from under-represented agencies. The research team constructed a package that was mailed to the laboratory director of each facility along with an introductory letter explaining the reason for the mail and its contents. Packages included individually sealed envelopes to be distributed to each scientist working in the lab, which contained a consent document, paper survey, and self-addressed envelope to return the survey at no cost to the scientist.

Sample:    A purposive yet convenient sample of respondents was developed through two waves of survey collection. First, an electronic survey was distributed total ASCLD-LAB accredited laboratory directors in November 2012. A second paper survey was distributed in May 2013 to 84 agencies in 25 states to increase the overall response rate and the likelihood of respondents from under-represented agencies. The states were selected because they were under-represented in the electronic survey data due to either low or no responses. A list of the certified laboratories in each of the 25 states was compiled from the information posted on the ASCLD-LAB website. The research team then visited the website for each lab to validate the director contact information, as well as determine an estimated number of scientists that may be working at that facility. A number of labs did not list this information, thus follow-up phone calls and emails were sent to the lab directors of the agencies in order to obtain an estimate. Twenty agencies were excluded from the sample due to missing information and non-responses.

Time Method:    Cross-sectional

Weight:    No weights were used.

Mode of Data Collection:    paper and pencil interview (PAPI), web-based survey

Description of Variables:    The study (Data n=899, 168 variables) included demographic variables such as race, sex marital status, and education. Other variables included were related to work experience and stress, job satisfaction, experiences with and perceptions of relationships with prosecutors and courts, relationships with top managers, perceptions concerning occupational status and situations, coping mechanisms, and environmental items.

Response Rates:    The electronic solicitation method yielded 568 responses though there is no way to determine the response rate due to the distribution method. For the paper survey solicitation, a total of 1,569 surveys were mailed and 331 surveys from 20 states were returned. The response rate for the paper survey distribution was 21.1 percent.

Presence of Common Scales:   

Several Likert type scales were used in this study. These scales ranged from:

  • strongly disagree to strongly agree
  • never to always
  • not at all to completely flexible
  • bad effect to positive effect
  • very uncomfortable to very comfortable
  • extremely dissatisfied to extremely satisfied

Version(s)

Original ICPSR Release:   2017-06-13

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