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Criminology and Criminal Justice Research: Methods

Quantitative Research Methods, Threats To Validity, Qualitative Research Methods, Future Of Research Methods In Criminology And Criminal Justice

Those interested in the study of criminology and criminal justice have at their disposal a wide range of research methods. Which of the particular research methods to use is entirely contingent upon the question being studied. Research questions typically fall into four categories of research: (1) descriptive, (2) exploratory, (3) explanatory, and (4) evaluative (Schutt). Descriptive research attempts to define and describe the social phenomena under investigation. Exploratory research seeks to identify the underlying meaning behind actions and individual behavior. Explanatory research seeks to identify the cause-(s) and effect(s) of social phenomena. Evaluation research seeks to determine the effects of an intervention on individual behavior. These four areas of research are not mutually exclusive; rather, they are designed to be used interactively in order to gain a deeper understanding of the question under investigation.

With this background, the purpose of this entry will be to introduce the reader to the two major research paradigms and issues that organize the field of criminology and criminal justice: quantitative and qualitative research strategies. After describing the different research methodologies several issues related to internal and external validity are identified that are important to bear in mind when assessing the adequacies of distinct research methodologies. The entry closes by highlighting what appears to be the most promising research strategy for criminology and criminal justice.



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Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationCrime and Criminal Law