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CCJ 3701: Research Methods in Criminal Justice   Tags: criminal_justice, criminology, research_methods  

Last Updated: Jan 30, 2014 URL: http://guides.lib.usf.edu/ccj3701 Print Guide Email Alerts

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Research in 5 steps

RESEARCH PROCESS IN 5 STEPS

1. Identify and develop your topic

  • State your topic as a question you wish to answer
  • Test your topic question with your instructor, colleagues or reference librarian for clarification
  • Identify main concepts and develop a list of keywords from your topic statement
  • Gather background information on your topic using specialized encyclopedias, newspapers, books, or authoritative websites

2. Identify the search tools you will need to find information on your topic

  • USF Libraries Catalog for books, media, and other online resources owned by the USF Libraries
  • USF Libraries Databases for access to information in articles and book chapters. Select from a list of criminology related databases.
  • Use lists of selected websites in criminology
  • Use specialized Google services such as Google Scholar to locate specialized reports and research materials on criminal justice issues

3. Develop a list of keywords and concepts

  • Become familiar with the language of the discipline and professional jargon to develop appropriate keywords to search online search tools such as databases, catalogs, and search engines.
  • Keep track of successful searches by writing down the keyword used and how you combined them to retrieve results

4. Evaluate what you find

  • Carefully look at author credentials, date of publication, editor and publisher to determine authority and credibility of source.
  • Carefully examine the intended audience to for the source to determine if it is the appropriate source for your needs. Examine the content for obvious errors, objectivity, support documentation, and coverage of topic.
  • Understand the difference between scholarly journals, professional literature, and popular sources so you know how to use them

5. Manage what you find by using the appropriate citation format and/or citation manager and avoid plagiarism

  • Learn to use Refworks or another citation manager to keep your sources organized and accessible
  • Understand how the basic elements of the format style such as APA citation format
  • Understand the pitfalls of plagiarism and how to avoid it by using these guidelines
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