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Introduction to Criminology - Prof. Mitrione: Research Paper Assignment

Know What You Need


  • State your topic in one sentence.  This helps you identify keywords/phrases that describe your topic.
  • How many pages do you need to fulfill your assignment?  Knowing how many pages you need to write helps pinpoint just how much information you will need.
  • How many and what kind of sources are required?  Knowing how many and what type of sources you need helps you choose a database and limit to the sources you need whether it be scholarly journals, books, newspapers, and/or statistics.

Research Paper Guidelines


PSCJ 111 Introduction to Criminology

Research Paper Guidelines


F.Your research must contain at least five sources of reference excluding the course textbooks, other textbooks on criminal justice, encyclopedias, and non-academic websites.  Educational and government websites (generally denoted by a .gov or .edu  address suffix) are acceptable sources, but the focus of your research should be on scholarly journal articles which can be found through the library's research page.  Again, please consult with the instructor if in doubt about your sources. (Hint: one reason for a poor grade is the use of inappropriate sources – do not use .com or .org websites, especially Wikipedia, for an academic paper.)

G.You must cite all of the sources that you use when writing the paper.  A citation is necessary for any information that you paraphrase or directly quote.  If you do not have direct personal knowledge of the information that you use in the paper, then a citation is required.  Be sure to cite your sources in the body of the paper and list them in a bibliography.  Students may use either the APA, MLA formats for citations and bibliographies and Documentation Style; guidelines for both formats can be found on the WCC Library page.  

H.The purpose of the research paper is to fully describe and analyze a specific family of theory (pick one of the six that we covered this semester: Trait, Choice, Social Process, Social Structure, Conflict, or Developmental or you may choose Victimology).  You must then explore each of the typographies of crime that we covered (violent, property, enterprise, and public-order) from your theory’s  perspective.  In other words, you need to describe how your theorists would explain crime from each of the four categories. Finally, you will describe the prevention strategies that your theory would suggest we employ to reduce or eliminate crime.

I.Your paper will be broken down into five distinct categories and should be titled as such with topic headings for each section:

 1. Introduction - Briefly present your chosen family of theory and what you hope to accomplish with this paper.  (A good way to start is:  “The purpose of this paper is…..)

2.Theory – Fully describe how your theory works to explain crime.  Who are the  major theorists involved?  How do their explanations of crime differ?  What are the basic principles of your family of theory?  How are they different from other families of theory?  How long has your family of theory has been around?  Do you think it works well to explain crime?  What are its weak and strong points? etc….. What are some examples of specific theories within your family of theory? etc….

3. Application-The third section of the research paper is the direct application of your theory to actual crime.  Be sure to use examples from each the four typographies of crime that we’ve studied.  The point here is to explain how your family of theory explains a variety of different crimes.  Can it explain all crime or is it limited to just one typography of crimes?

 4. Prevention – How does your theory suggest that we prevent crime?  What should we do with known criminals?  Basically, describe how your theory would put an end to crime if its theorists were put in charge of the criminal justice system.

5. Conclusion - Summarize the key concepts you presented in the paper.  Sum it up; restate the most important ideas you presented in your paper.


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