This module should take you 30 minutes to complete. It will walk you through the process of using Criminal Justice Abstracts database for your research. Click the blue button above to begin.
Below is information about how to conduct a literature review.
Empirical research is based on observed and measured phenomena and derives knowledge from actual experience rather than from theory or belief.
How do you know if a study is empirical? Read the subheadings within the article, book, or report and look for a description of the research "methodology." Ask yourself: Could I recreate this study and test these results?
Key characteristics to look for:
Another hint: some scholarly journals use a specific layout, called the "IMRaD" format, to communicate empirical research findings. Such articles typically have 4 components:
You should also see an Abstract, or short summary, and a References section with all of the works cited in the article.
Criminal Justice Abstracts
Criminal Justice Abstracts is the top recommended database for the field of Criminal Justice. Find it at the top of the Criminal Justice Research Guide, or follow these directions:
Find relevant, interdisciplinary research. Note the "cited by" feature, which is helpful for identifying impactful research.
If it has more of a criminal justice lens, this database may be useful.
By this point in your college career, you have had a chance to search library databases. You understand that you need keywords (not sentences) when you search a database. However, using criminal justice related keywords might be new territory.
Natural language refers to the common way that we speak in everyday life. Database language refers to how a database classifies a concept and is usually very technical and academic in nature. Though most databases are great at matching natural language entered with database terminology, it’s important for you to begin recognizing specialized terminology. Some examples include:
|Natural Language||Database Language|
|Opioid Addiction||Opioid Use Disorder|
|Social Withdrawal||Social Anhedonia|
|ADHD||Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity|
|Gender Identity Issues||Gender Dysphoria|
Synonyms and related terms for the word sentencing:
Synonyms and related terms for gender might include:
Now that you've formulated a research question and developed some keywords, it's time to create a search strategy. Each of the following sections will help you build and properly conduct your search.
These operators can be used in Library databases, but also work really well in Google! They are important for creating efficient, effective searches.
Expands the search.
Used to string synonyms together.
Results include all articles with any of the terms used.
Narrows the search.
All retrieved results must include all terms connected with AND.
AND usually combines different concepts together in one search.
AND is assumed between words in Google.
Excludes results with a specific term.
Really handy to eliminate unwanted search results.
Use quotation marks to search for phrases. Phrase searching is excellent when the desired result is specificity.
Google site searching can help search across various government websites or can help you better search poorly indexed websites. Site searches should be typed into the browser search bar (where the web address is located).
To keep organized while you research, you should start a spreadsheet for yourself. Add columns for the citation (including the URL of the article), and once you read it, track the authors' research question, methods, findings and themes. You will see themes or facts emerge as you read more and more articles.
Here's an example Literature Review Matrix for you to view. Feel free to go to File -- Make a Copy or Download to access a file for you to edit.
A research question is the question around which you center your research. It should be:
You should ask a question about an issue that you are genuinely curious and/or passionate about.
When deciding on a research question, follow these steps:
Example topic: United States incarceration rates
Example Perspective: United states incarceration rates due to drug convictions
Example perspective: United states incarceration rates and juvenile offenders
You should be able to brainstorm several perspectives or angles for your topic. Is there a psychological issue? Legal issue? Policing issue? Identify whichever perspective interests you most and focus on that for your research question.
Example Research Question:
Are the current incarceration policies in line with public perception of incarceration for drug related crimes?
SAGE Research Methods is a how-to database. It is not where you go to find articles, instead, it's where you can find resources to help you become a better researcher.
SAGE Research Methods has relevant information about using SPSS, conducting interviews, best practices for creating survey questions, and tons of case studies that you could model your own work on.
When using citations generated by the databases or a citation generating software always double check that the citation is accurate.
Often, you'll need to tweak the citations to align them with the APA style guide.
Go to the Citing Sources guide below and click APA for Owl at Purdue guide: