Research Methods


Research Methods

Assignment 1: Topic and literature review

This will be the first of three papers that you construct for this class. The assignment is a 3-5-page paper written over a topic that you will pursue for the rest of the semester in subsequent assignments. This topic is your choice, but something related to criminal justice, criminology, and/or deviance. Follow these steps to complete your assignment.

1 Choose a topic that you are interested in and of which has a sufficient amount of  has academic research published on it. Avoid current event issues (ongoing trials, murder sprees, etc.) as these may not have sufficient amounts of research on the subjects published in peer-reviewed journals.

2 Go to the RU library’s website and use the following three search engines to find your articles: Criminal Justice Abstracts, Sociological Abstracts, or Proquest. Write down your keywords for your search that results in the most articles. Download at least 10 of those articles.

3 Build a reference page using APA citation style (a .pdf of APA lite is in your course documents). As you read through your articles, write a brief summary/annotation (what, who, how, and why of each article) after each reference in the bibliography. This is called an annotated bibliography. It will inform the remainder of your assignments for the rest of the semester concerning your chosen topic.

4 Construct (assignment 1) 3-5 pages about your topic. In short, this is the what, who, why, and how of your topic. This first paper explores what the topic is, who has researched the topic, how they went about researching the topic and why it is an important topic to criminal justice. This is called a literature review.

Complete steps one through three, first. Use the annotated bibliography to then write a literature review step four, last. 

Papers should be 12-point font, double-spaced, with one inch margins. Literature reviews should be structured like essays, complete with an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. Put together a title page with a working title—this will change and evolve but offers an opportunity be creative. Every paper needs a reference section to cite who and where you found your information. 

There is an old proverb that says, “if you are going to eat an elephant, you have to do it one bite at a time.” This is certainly true for research. Take your time, pick a topic that you are passionate about, then sit down and spend the time. We will work through it. Eat that elephant.