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Methodological Research to Support the National Crime Victimization Survey: Self-Report Data on Rape and Sexual Assault - Pilot Test

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 2021
1362 pages

This report describes the methodology and presents the key findings, recommendations, and limitations of the Rape and Sexual Assault Pilot Test, which was initiated by the U.S. Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics to develop recommendations on the best methods for collecting data on rape and sexual assault in the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) program.


The Rape and Sexual Assault Pilot Test was conducted because data collections that have used various methodologies and definitions have produced competing estimates regarding sexual victimization in the United States for the past two decades. The project had three objectives. One objective was to develop and pilot- test a design based on best practices to collect self-report data on rape and sexual assault, using an in-person, audio computer-assisted self-interview questionnaire. A second objective was to develop and pilot test a comparison design using random digit dialing (RDD) and a computer-assisted telephone interview (CATI) survey. The third objective was to conduct detailed analytical comparisons of the two designs against each other and the existing NCVS program. Limitations of the test are noted. Suggestions for the future are to examine the recommended procedures within the context of the NCVS framework and Census Bureau operations when finalizing the methodology for measuring sexual victimization. Extensive tables and figures