This is a report on an analysis of data from the LoneStar Project, a three-wave longitudinal reentry study of 802 males recently released from prisons in Texas, to determine the correlates of proximal, distal, and any study retention.
Longitudinal data are essential to research in criminology and criminal justice. Despite attrition’s implications for validity, understanding its sources is under-examined empirically. The current study examined the correlates of retention using covariates organized into domains of prediction, prevention, and projection. The best correlates of study retention are prevention techniques used by researchers to reduce attrition. In contrast, only a few covariates traditionally associated with attrition and no covariates used for attrition projection were related to retention. What researchers do matters more for retention than the characteristics of individuals they are trying to retain. The findings of this study underscore how researchers can improve study retention in longitudinal research while also correcting for non-random attrition in current longitudinal data sources. (publisher abstract modified)
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