NIJ’s approach to accomplishing its mission involves achieving four goals:
Invest in Needed Research: NIJ supports basic and applied, intramural and extramural scientific research to develop needed knowledge and tools to advance policy and practice in eight broad research areas, primarily through a competitive grant program:
- Crime prevention and control.
- Youth justice.
- Victimization — experiences, supports, and services.
- Forensic and investigative sciences.
- Justice systems operations — effectiveness, efficiency, and fairness.
- Equipment performance standards and testing.
NIJ develops and refines its research priorities by:
- Engaging with its primary stakeholders, representing policymakers, practitioners, service
providers, community-based entities, and researchers.
- Assessing research investments, including by other federal agencies as well as other public
and private sector organizations.
- Investing in research activities on topics mandated by the Attorney General, Congress,
and the White House.
Build Research Capacity: NIJ seeks to expand the justice research knowledge infrastructure, including researchers, data, software products, and institutions, by:
- Expanding the pool of researchers engaged in safety and justice research through research assistantships, fellowships, and support for early-career researchers.
- Fostering development and expansion of practitioners engaged in research as well as researchers embedded in practitioner, service provider, and community-based entities.
- Applying innovative technology solutions that increase data usage by practitioner, service provider, and community-based entities and enable data integration to uncover new knowledge.
- Expanding existing knowledge repositories and their use such as the National Archive of Criminal Justice Data and the National Criminal Justice Reference Service Virtual Library.
Translate and Disseminate: NIJ fosters the implementation of research knowledge products through strategic outreach designed to give policymakers, practitioners, and affected communities the best available evidence to make decisions and advance practice. This involves:
- Translating research findings into accessible and sound products by supporting activities like CrimeSolutions.ojp.gov.
- Engaging in outreach to support the uptake of evidence-based practices in the field.
- Supporting research on the best approaches to successful field implementation.
Measure Performance and Impact: To ensure that our research investments produce the intended outcomes and benefits, NIJ:
- Supports independent assessment of NIJ-funded research projects and secondary analysis of findings.
- Routinely assesses each research portfolio’s return on investment.
- Ensures grantee compliance with award reporting, accounting, and deliverable requirements through training, technical assistance, and other grantee support mechanisms.
- Reviews and audits grantee performance and compliance with grant conditions.
- Rigorously and routinely measures the accessibility, implementation, and impact of knowledge products.
Five cross-cutting themes support NIJ’s research investments and dissemination activities:
Research Integrity: The integrity of the research NIJ supports is essential to the validity and relevance of the knowledge generated by our grant investments. Successful NIJ applicants must demonstrate research independence and integrity, including appropriate human subject protection safeguards.
Fairness in the Application of Justice: NIJ is committed to advancing the fairness of the justice system, prioritizing research that includes consideration and measurement of issues of diversity, discrimination, and bias across age, gender, race, ethnicity, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, and other measures.
Diversity of Perspectives and Disciplines in Research: NIJ prioritizes applications that propose rigorous research employing diverse disciplines, methods, and research perspectives. NIJ gives special consideration to proposals with methods that are rigorous and include the professional expertise and lived experience of people closest to the studied issues. NIJ also supports increasing the number of researchers from historically underserved communities who bring their perspectives to bear on the challenges of safety and justice in the United States.
Implementation Science: NIJ’s mission focuses on the development and uptake of knowledge products to promote safety and advance justice. Consequently, it fosters research-promoting methods and strategies that facilitate the implementation of evidence-based practice by practitioners and policymakers as well as affected communities.
Global Perspective: NIJ recognizes that the global research community has important knowledge and tools to share in the service of advancing safety and justice. NIJ embraces opportunities to share research originating in the United States with its international counterparts and to incorporate their research into NIJ’s work.
Strategic Research Plans
NIJ publishes strategic research plans on topics that span our two science offices. These plans build off existing research knowledge; input about research needs gathered from practitioners, policymakers, and researchers; and the priorities of Congress and the administration.
In addition, our specific, short-term, priories shift with the needs of the field as new challenges arise. We also look for and support innovative ideas that could transform the criminal justice system.