Research Agenda and Goals

Research Agenda

Our long-term research agenda is founded on our strategic goals that inform program-specific research objectives. At the heart of our planning process is the need to balance the state of current research knowledge with the pressing needs of criminal justice practitioners and policymakers.

Each of our portfolios (e.g., policing, corrections, information technology, violence, victimization, forensics research) pursues a research agenda that incorporates several kinds of knowledge-building activities. The activities include basic and applied research questions, program evaluation needs, and opportunities to develop and test new interventions and strategies.

We have established strategic research goals that unite research across our portfolios. The broad goals are translated into specific research objectives within each program area. Together, these goals and objectives define our long-term research agenda.

Research Goals

Our overarching research goals for improving the justice system and preventing crime through research, development and evaluation are to:

  • Understand the causes of crime to more effectively predict, prevent and control crime.
  • Develop practices and policies that improve performance in law enforcement personnel and criminal justice agencies.
  • Develop, test and evaluate ways to limit deaths and injuries of law enforcement and suspects.
  • Develop knowledge on violence and victimization in specific populations to reduce and prevent violence and improve the quality of life for individuals, families, neighborhoods and communities.
  • Expand the scientific basis of the forensic sciences.
  • Expand the use and power of DNA evidence.
  • Identify the components of a successful reentry program for different populations of offenders.
  • Improve services to crime victims.
  • Understand and prevent the use and distribution of illegal drugs.
  • Identify ways to reduce incarceration and probation while maintaining public safety and holding offenders accountable.

Setting Research Objectives

The research objectives for each of NIJ’s portfolios are determined by:

  • Existing research knowledge (because knowledge accumulates).
  • Input about crime-fighting successes, failures and needs gathered directly from practitioners, policymakers and researchers. Information-gathering methods include practitioner- and researcher-based technology working groups and social science topical working groups, a broad range of strategic-planning sessions with researchers and practitioners and “listening sessions” with criminal justice practitioners and policymakers.
  • The successes and struggles of programs undertaken by other federal agencies, including other Office of Justice Programs bureaus and offices.

We regularly review and update the research objectives for each research portfolio using internal and external resources.

Date Modified: September 4, 0033