CRJU-485: Research Methods in Criminal Justice
Summer I Semester 2004
Dr. Tod Burke
(540) 831-6657 (office)
About the Course:
This is a class about how we know what we know. It is very important for you to be trained as a consumer and producer of research. That is why this class is required of all criminal justice majors. However, students often approach this class with reluctance, either because it has a reputation for being difficult or because the practical value may not be readily apparent. It is true that some of the material in this course is challenging. However, over the course of the semester we will work to demystify research methods and you will (ideally) see the value of the research process – and perhaps even discover that it is both worthwhile and fun (seriously!).
It is important to note that, for the purposes of this class, “research” means going out and collecting data (through surveys, observations, interviews, etc.) in order to test a hypothesis. It is important for you to see “research” as a sophisticated endeavor that moves beyond the library and into the “real world.”
It is also true that research methods is a valuable course – perhaps one of the most valuable you will take. While “I’m taking this class because I have to” is a valid and pragmatic explanation, I think that the following justifications are better:
One textbook has been ordered for this course:
In addition, a number of readings have been placed on reserve at the library. These are indicated on the schedule.
You will work in groups to complete a course project. Further details will follow.
On a regular basis (i.e., practically every day), there will be a graded activity of some kind. It may be an in-class exercise, an out-of-class assignment, an article presentation, and so forth. Research methods is a subject that you “learn by doing,” so I plan to give you plenty of opportunities. Your score out of 100 points will be determined using the following formula:
There will be two exams in the course. Each is worth 50 points.
I will assign a grade out of 100 points on your final project. I will divide the number of points you earn by the number of points possible to determine a score out of 100 points for the daily exercises. The two exams are worth 50 points each. Accordingly, there are 300 points possible in the course. The grading scale in this class will be:
270-300 = A
210-239 = C
180-209 = D
0-179 = F
There is no extra credit available in this class.
I expect your attendance at every day’s class. This means that you should be physically present in the classroom, PLUS you should be prepared to fully participate in the class. Reading, sleeping, talking on cell phones, and other distracting activities are unacceptable and will result in your being counted absent.
The only absences that will count as “Excused” are those for which you have a legitimate and documented excuse. Please consult me if you feel that you have an excused absence. Unless your absence is excused, you may not make up any missed work or turn anything in late – don’t even bother to ask for an extension!
You are expected to arrive to class on time. Students who fail to do so may have points deducted from their final grade and/or may be denied entry to the class.
All written work prepared out of class must be typed and demonstrate proper grammar and spelling. Please refer to my paper writing guidelines, posted online.
hereby resolve to uphold the honor code of
I take the Honor Code very seriously, and will diligently uphold it. You should, too. While not an exhaustive list, you should feel certain that I will refer the following cases to the appropriate University authorities, and recommend a grade of “F” for the course (see Student Handbook for details):
This is a demanding class. It is essential that you take this course seriously and keep up with the work load. Accordingly, here are my general expectations of you (and I will assume that you are doing these things). If you can not do these things, please drop this class now:
We will try to stick to the following schedule – however, it may be necessary to make modifications over the course of the summer. Accordingly, this schedule is best viewed as “tentative.”
**Please consult your final project handout for details about final project due dates.** All dates and topic selections are subject to change!!
Monday, May 17
Topic(s): Course Introduction
Writing and Citing
Exercise(s): Introducing Research; Detecting Plagiarism
Tuesday, May 18
Topic(s): Doing Library Research
Hypotheses and Research Questions
Your Research Projects
Criminal Justice Research Handout, on Dr. Owen’s website
Exercise(s): Library Research; Hypothesis Development
Wednesday, May 19
Topic(s): Research, Science, and Knowledge
Overview: Types of Research Design
Fumento, M. (1998, August). “Road rage” versus reality. The Atlantic Monthly, 282, 12-17. (on reserve)
Exercise(s): Reading a Journal Article; Intellectual Curiosity; Road Rage Research Design (basic and applied)
Thursday, May 20
Topic(s): Introducing Research Ethics
Exercise(s): National Institute of Health Human Subjects Training; “Quiet Rage” Video Exercise
Monday, May 24
Topic(s): Continuing Research Ethics
Critical Analysis of Research Designs
1. Milgram, S. (1969). Obedience to authority: An experimental view. New York, NY: Harper and Row. Read chapter 2 and Appendix I.
2. Warwick, D. P. (1973). Tearoom trade: Means and ends in social
research. In L. Humphreys (1975), Tearoom Trade: Impersonal Sex in Public Places
Exercise(s): Role-playing the Institutional Review Board
Tuesday, May 25
Topic(s): The Uses (and Misuses) of Theory
The Nature of Causation
Exercise(s): Causality; Assessing Criminal Justice Theory
Wednesday, May 26
Topic(s): The Language of Research
Reliability and Validity
Exercise(s): The Language of Research I & II; Validity; Levels of Measurement
Thursday, May 27
Exercise(s): Sampling I & II
Monday, May 31
Memorial Day – No Class
Tuesday, June 1
McCabe, D. L. and Trevino, L. K. (1997). Individual and contextual influences on academic dishonesty: A multicampus investigation. Research in Higher Education, 38, 379-396
Exercise(s): Scales; Analysis of Surveys; Writing a Survey
Wednesday, June 2
Exam #1 – Covers Chapters 1-6 and material through May 27
Exercise(s): Interview Role-play; Focus Group Role-play
Thursday, June 3
Topic(s): Designing Experiments
L. W. and Rogan, D. P. (1995). Effects of gun seizures on gun violence: “Hot
spots” patrol in
Exercise(s): Designing an Experiment; Assessing an Experiment
Monday, June 7
Topic(s): Nonreactive Observation
Use of Existing Data
Hartman, D. M. and Golub, A. (1999). The social construction of the crack epidemic in the print media. Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, 31, 423-433. (on reserve)
Exercise(s): Content Analysis; Observation
Tuesday, June 8
Topic(s): Participant Observation
M. S. (1991). Islands in the street: Gangs and American urban society.
Exercise(s): Participant Observation Design; Ethics and Participant Observation
Wednesday, June 9
Topic(s): Historical and Comparative Research
J. (2002). Book review: Arming
Exercise(s): Designing an Oral History; Lindgren and Bellesiles
Thursday, June 10
Exam #2 – Covers all course material
Topic(s): Quantitative Analysis
Statistics Are Our Friends
Exercise(s): Crime Data I & II
Monday, June 14
Project Work Day
Tuesday, June 15
Project Work Day
Wednesday, June 16
Project Work Day
Thursday, June 17
Group Project Presentations
Friday, June 18
Final Projects Are Due Today by
 I will remain the judge of what constitutes a “legitimate” and “documented” absence. Generally speaking, by “legitimate” I mean something like a hospitalization, funeral, court appearance, military service, and so on. Routine doctor’s appointments, job interviews, work, etc., are not “legitimate” absences. For documentation, I expect some written document that confirms your explanation.
 This does not mean that classes are cancelled – you should plan on using these times to complete your group project. In addition, I may want to meet individually with groups at these times.