Secondary Data Analysis: The Good, The Bad, and The Problematic


This case study reflects upon the advantages and challenges to using large-scale freely available social science data in the testing of theoretically derived hypotheses. The original study was designed to test the role of three types of strain, derived from General Strain Theory, on substance abuse and dependence by two cohorts of females: a group defined as pre- or perimenopausal (aged 35-49 years) and a group defined as menopausal or postmenopausal (aged 50-64 years), hypothesizing that older age (and hence menopausal) was a significant strain that could contribute to substance misuse. The data used for the initial study were downloaded from the Interuniversity Consortium for Political and Social Research and were obtained from the National Archives of Criminal Justice Data.

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