[Please explain your vote. If you voted to publish pending minor changes, specify each change, why it is needed, and, possibly, how it should/could be done.]
Explain: This was a really tough decision to make because the front end of this paper was excellent. I agree that there is a clear need to see how interactions with others influence the identities of people convicted of sexual offenses and the authors make a very good case for this area of study. Furthermore, given the sample size and scope (both in terms of length of time and amount of data), this could be a really exciting piece.
However, I don’t feel that the results are presented in a way that fulfills the promise of the setup. First, there needs to be stronger evidence to support the claims that are being made. For instance, I would like to see strong presentation of findings to discuss how people viewed themselves as fathers. In the quotes provided, no one specifically uses the words “father” or “dad” and I think that given the dataset, there could/may be stronger examples of presenting this identity. Another example is the discussion on page 14 of individuals denying malice. It is unclear if George is admitting wrongdoing (since 18 and 19 would count as “teen women” that someone could be looking for) so his example isn’t that useful and is actually confusing. This speaks to a larger issue that many examples are provided, but need richer data to support them. The strength of qualitative research is rich description of narratives and behavior, but the examples of Albert and George on page 14 are too vague and cursory. That paragraph spends a lot of time setting up and discussing two very small pieces of quotes.
This lack of rich data is what raises the most problems for the piece, especially concerning the title focus on interactions with sheriffs. In fact, the qualitative data presented about sherriff interactions is too sparse. On page 15, the quote from Jonah is 6 or so sentences but he only mentions interactions with police in one of them. In most examples in the paper, these interactions are recollections/narratives with not a ton of detail. This is a problem because the setup really paints a picture of a paper that is going to discuss detailed interactions (almost observational) between participants and sheriffs, when what the reader gets seems very casual. In that paragraph about Jonah the authors mention % of participants who shared interactions, so why aren’t data about those interactions presented? Furthermore, that paragraph spends a lot of time explaining a quote from Jonah that is not that rich.
I think an R&R might have been appropriate, but what I think the authors need to do is go back to the dataset and find richer data that backs up their findings. If that data doesn’t exist, then the authors need to decide if this paper is actually the paper that should be written. It seems to me that maybe the issue is that they are trying to write a paper about this process of identity formation/redemption and there just isn’t enough to make that a rich story. Perhaps it would be better to just focus on certain aspects like redemption scripts, or the role of family and friends in identity. A paper about interactions with sheriffs would be great if there were rich data about those interactions, but it doesn’t appear that the authors have that, if if they do, they didn’t use it. Qualitative work is valuable because of the richness in qualitative data, and this piece needs to use that advantage better. To me there is too much quantification of qualitative data and too much analysis of minimally rich data. I believe there is 1, if not more, good papers that could come out of this, but the authors should revisit the ideas/themes with more focus on what their data can richly support.