When conducting a research project of any kind, but especially in the field of Criminal Justice, there are many factors that must be considered from an economic, social, and political standpoint. Generally, the research topic is selected based on a whole host of very important factors.
First, when presented with the task of selecting a topic, one must consider the relevance of the topic they plan to choose. Picking a research topic that is not a controversial issue, a frequently covered news topic, or something new and innovative that can be correlated to one of the previous two criteria. If the topic is not viewed as relevant enough, not only is it likely that the university will pull a research grant, but it just overall will not have a lasting impact. The purpose of a research study is to obtain new information–a topic that is not relevant is a waste of new information. Some examples of good research topics in Criminal Justice are cyber-crime, legalization of marijuana, bullying and violence in schools, as well as reform of the penal system (Criminal Justice, 2013).
However, there are factors that also must be taken into account when even choosing a topic that is relevant. The demographic population of the city chosen would also have to be taken into account when choosing a specific topic. For example, for the aforementioned topic of penal reform, there is a host of statistics that also must be taken into consideration. If, say an urban city with a high minority population was chosen, the statistics of minorities in prisons compared to whites would have to be considered.
One of the most important parts of a study is the purpose statement. It must be specific enough to maintain its overall relevance, while remaining broad enough that it can be made applicable in the most ways possible. Keeping in mind the function of a purpose statement is to explain why the study is necessary, the statement should be clear and concise. The four parts of a purpose statement should include the method, both dependent and independent variables, the target audience, as well as the setting the study is to be conducted in (Writing the Purpose Statement, 2011).
If the proper steps have been followed to this point, a hypothesis or two should have evolved around the research topic. Taking into consideration the variables such as demographics, political affiliation, and population and applying it to a research topic should raise plenty of questions that can be addressed. At this point, the most important part is to discern which of these should be addressed–in other words, prioritizing the questions. These will be become research questions.
When a null or alternative hypothesis is introduced along with the one being presented, many things come to light as a whole, and in parts. First and foremost, considering and even presenting counter-arguments to their own can be a very effective tool in judging the strength of one’s own argument. If, when considering alternative thesis’, one sees that their research is futile, than much unnecessary work can be avoided.
Another strong reason to present counter-arguments is to actually strengthen ones own. If the alternative thesis can be deconstructed and thus proved false by ones own research study, then doing so in the findings can be nothing besides beneficial in the long-run. Thesis’ that deconstruct other thesis’ is how information progresses.
The overall research effort is measured an analyzed in many different ways. First, the outliers must be taken into consideration–why did a certain population deviate so much from the rest of the study? After that, the raw data must be compared to studies that correlate to it, and compared and contrasted for the sake of accuracy. After demographics are considered, the report can be drafted to some extent.
Quantitative research is research that depends on the collection of quantitative data. This data is characterized by deductive reasoning on the part of the researcher, and depends on the regularity of human behavior under controlled conditions. The researcher is generally supposed to be objective from the beginning. It normally ends with a statistical report (Quantitative, Qualitative, and Mixed Research, 2012).
Qualitative research is directly dependant on new hypothesis’ that arise while collecting new data. It is a more adaptive research approach, and tends to not control the environment, but rather using a natural environment. In addition it is a subjective research method that searches for patterns. The final report is more narrative in nature. Mixed research is exactly what it sounds like–it combines necessary elements of both qualitative and quantitative methods for the study at hand (Quantitative, Qualitative, and Mixed Research, 2012).
The literature review of the findings would probably be of the mixed nature, encompassing both quantitative and qualitative research methodologies. In this way it covers all the bases. In addition, this is the best way to end up with the highest standard of results as a whole, while encompassing the most possible amount of data into consideration.
The integrity of the report is an ethical and moral issue as well, and can be tainted if certain data is omitted, or even under-researched. This burden does indeed fall on the researcher, so the utmost time should be put into any research study, with all of the dependent and independent variables, as well as the atmosphere and climate. There are also the legal implications of the study, which can be direct or indirect, and far-reaching indeed.
First and foremost, if the researcher is able to adequately prove their thesis than their study could be cited in either future studies, or even used in testimony in court cases. If the research is in any way compromised, it must be taken into consideration as well as adequately noted. In addition, another major thing to consider is the omission of information to further prove a thesis.
Unfortunately this is something sociologists and criminologists deal with on a daily basis. To think a person would taint research with far reaching implications simply to further their own career is disgusting–however, it is a reality. Specific care must be taken to ensure all information, no matter how small, is in some way in the literature published. There is no imperative way to know how far reaching the implications of any individual research project can, and will be.
“Choosing & Defining a Topic Tags: Controversial Topics, Issues in the News, Social_issues, Thesis Statements .” Start Here. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 June 2013. <http://libguides.monroecc.edu/content.php?pid=124732>.
“Quantitative, Qualitative, and Mixed Research.” Southalabama.edu, n.d. Web. <http://www.southalabama.edu/coe/bset/johnson/lectures/lec2.pdf>.
“Writing the Purpose Statement.” Writing the Purpose Statement. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 June 2013. <http://bold-ed.com/purpose.htm>.