The growth of randomized experiments in policing: The vital few and the salience of mentoring

Anthony A. Braga, Brandon C. Welsh, Andrew V. Papachristos, Cory Schnell, Leigh Grossman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Objectives: The population of randomized experiments in policing is used to examine co-author and mentoring relations in the professional network of scholars and assess if experimental criminology is on the path to creating the necessary social capital to promote the use of randomized controlled trials in criminology and criminal justice research. Methods: We use systematic review methods to identify the population of policing experiments. Narrative review and descriptive statistics are used to examine the growth of policing experiments over time. Social network analysis techniques are used to analyze and describe the co-authoring and mentoring connections of the scholars responsible for completing policing experiments. Results: We find that the number of policing experiments increased substantially between 1970 and 2011. The growth in policing randomized experiments has been largely generated by a very small number of scholars who account for the bulk of policing experiments and have been very active in mentoring the next generation of experimentalists. Another important factor associated with the rise in policing experiment is the availability of federal funding. Conclusions: Our analysis of policing experiments suggests that the experimental criminology movement is developing the necessary human and social capital to advance the discipline of criminology. However, it is a very small network that could benefit from the addition of new members and increased training and mentoring of graduate students.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-28
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of Experimental Criminology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2014


  • Mentoring
  • Policing
  • Randomized experiments
  • Social network

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Law


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