Formulating clear, concise, and empirically testable research questions forms the core of ‘good’ social science research. For our second major assignment I would like you to develop your own research question related to any aspect of criminology or the criminal justice system that you find interesting. Once you have decided on a coherent research question, please formulate two (2) hypotheses that directly relate to your broader question. Be sure to clearly identify your independent and dependent variables. In crafting your research question and hypotheses, please remember the following:
- Make empirical rather than normative statements
- Avoid questions that can be answered with a simple yes or no answer
- Try to formulate a question that might have more than one plausible answer
- Ask a question concerning differences between individuals, groups, organizations, etc
- Ask a question that draws on relationships between two or more concepts.
For instance, many of you have expressed an interest in police-community relations this semester. An example of a research question related to this topic might be something like: How does a community’s confidence in the police to perform their jobs fairly and without bias influence crime rates? You might then hypothesize that communities with higher average levels of trust in the police will have lower crime rates than communities with little trust in the police.
Finally, I would like you to use Google Scholar (or a similar database) to identify three (3) scholarly sources that help frame your research question and hypotheses. For each study please provide a brief overview of the purpose and main findings. Keeping with the same example, we might locate the following article through a database search:
Gau, J. M., & Brunson, R. K. (2010). Procedural justice and order maintenance policing: A study of inner‐city young men’s perceptions of police legitimacy. Justice Quarterly, 27(2), 255-279.
In your paper you might note: Several studies suggest that police behavior may have a direct effect on citizen perceptions of police. For instance, Gau and Brunson (2009) argue that maintenance policing strategies such as stop and frisk negatively affect how young men perceive police legitimacy, thus decreasing trust in police. This may further undermine the ability of the police force to perform their jobs, thus contributing to higher crime rates. Remember to provide direct citations to each article (both in text and in a works cited section).
Final assignments should be presented as a 2-3 page essay, NOT a bullet-pointed list. Remember, there are a total of THREE components to this assignment – (1) research question, (2) hypotheses, and (3) related scholarly articles. To receive full credit on the assignment, you must include all of these components. Please be sure to proofread your final assignment carefully, as points will be deducted for spelling and grammar mistakes. Finally, if you need assistance please contact me, or visit the writing center. Good luck!
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