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Strategic Challenges and Research Agenda

The National Institute of Justice is committed to being a transformative force in the criminal justice field by meeting six strategic challenges:

  1. Fostering science-based criminal justice practice — supporting rigorous scientific research to ensure the safety of families, neighborhoods, and communities.
  2. Translating knowledge to practice — disseminating rigorous scientific research to criminal justice professionals to advance what works best in preventing and reducing crime.
  3. Advancing technology — building a more effective, fair, and efficient criminal justice system through technology.
  4. Working across disciplines — connecting the physical, forensic, and social sciences to reduce crime and promote justice.
  5. Bolstering the research infrastructure — supporting new scholars, encouraging researchers from a broad array of disciplines to apply their work to criminal justice, and increasing the availability of research findings and data.
  6. Adopting a global perspective — understanding crime in its social context within the U.S. and the world.

Our long-term research agenda is founded on these strategic challenges. 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.

Broadly, we support research, evaluation, and development projects in seven areas:

  • Causes and correlates of crime.
  • Crime prevention and control.
  • Prevention of violence and victimization.
  • Forensic sciences.
  • Corrections practice and policy, including community corrections.
  • Law enforcement effectiveness, legitimacy, accountability and safety.
  • Courts and adjudication.

Within each of these broad areas, we establish research goals that are translated into specific research objectives within each program area. 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.
  • 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.

Both our long- and short-term priorities are reflected in the solicitations we release annually. See forthcoming, current, and expired solicitations.

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.

Date Published: June 15, 2022